Milagu Rasam
"Pepper is for colds and coughs, and turmeric heals wounds," says cookbook author Viji Varadarajan. In his native South India, milagu rasam, a broth made with those key ingredients, also includes a dose of tamarind, which is believed to help heal sore throats. Get the recipe for Milagu Rasam ». Todd Coleman

In South India, this spicy, fragrant soup is often served at the end of a meal. It is eaten, too, to soften the effects of fevers and colds. This recipe appeared in the iPad edition of our December 2012 issue along with Sushma Subramanian’s story Feed a Fever.

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 12 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 40 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp. tamarind extract
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 4 tsp. canola oil
  • 14 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 14 tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
  • 3 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, and halved


  1. Grind cumin seeds, peppercorns, and 20 of the curry leaves in a spice grinder; set aside.
  2. Put tamarind extract, salt, and 1 quart water into a pot over medium-high heat and stir; bring to a boil. Add ground spices and tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Add, in quick succession, remaining 20 curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, and chiles and cook until fenugreek turns golden, 3–5 seconds. Pour spices and oil into soup. Serve at once.