“Whenever I was sick my mom would make charu. It’s called charu in South India, but in other parts of India you’ll hear it called rasam. When I told my mom I was talking about charu tonight, she didn’t even blink an eye- she was like ‘oh yes, charu, your uncle’s in the hospital and he just called me for some charu.’ They don’t know about charu outside of East Godavari. I loved hearing the pride in her voice, talking about this broth that was just so authentic to where she grew up, to where she came from. So whenever I was sick, fever, cold, the first thing my mom would do was make us some charu. And she would mix it with chicken curry, and that fermented mango pickle, that I loved so much. - Sylvie Charles
For Tamarind water:
1/4 c tamarind block
6 c warm water
10 curry leaves*
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 scant Tbsp salt
1 small onion
1 Tbsp grapeseed or sunflower oil (do not use olive)
1 Tbsp urad dal*
2 dried chili peppers
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 T chenna dal*
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp coconut sugar, optional
*you can find these ingredients at Indian markets
1. Soak tamarind block in warm water for about 20 minutes. Squeeze the pulp in the water with your hands, pulling the pulp away from the seeds and threads, to make a tamarind water. Strain the tamarind seeds and threads.
2. Place tamarind water in a stock pot with curry leaves, turmeric powder, and salt
3. Slice the small onion super thin and place the slices in the stock pot as well. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat when it comes to a boil.
4. While the water is coming to a boil, heat oil in a separate pan. Lightly fry urad dal , dried red chili peppers, garlic cloves, and chenna dal over low-medium heat until lightly browned. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and brown mustard seeds and fry for 2 minutes until mustard seeds pop.
5. Add the spices to the boiling tamarind water.
Note from Sylvie: My mom adds a tsp of sugar, but I don’t. I bet coconut sugar would be a good replacement if you want a hint of sweet to balance it out.