Chincheche Saar or Tamarind Saar soup in Marathi is very similar to the taste of rasam from southern India. The Chincheche saar is made from tamarind juice, spices, sweetened with little sugar or jaggery and seasoned with a flavourful tadka.
Chincheche Saar is a typical khatta meeta, spicy thin stew prepared with tamarind extract as main ingredient and without lentils. The dish is very simple to prepare and fast to cook. It’s an excellent appetizer and can be served with hot rice. Saar, Saaru or Chaaru are all different names called for the popular dish Rasam from Tamil Nadu. This is a popular Indian soup traditionally prepared using tamarind juice as base, or tomatoes and then adding chilli powder, pepper, cumin and other spices as seasonings.
There are also other varieties or rasam or saaru where lentils are nicely mashed and added to. Saar has a distinct taste in comparison to Sambar due to its own seasoning ingredients and is usually fluid in consistency. The tamarind juice is diluted in some water and boiled well with the spices and jaggery to give a little sweetness to the soup. Some fresh grated coconut is added at the end of the cooking process giving a final touch and enhances the flavours of the dish. This type of Chincheche Saar is especially made in Maharashtra, Konkan and north Karnataka regions.
Tamarind Saar accompanied with white rice is light, refreshing and nutritious. The combination of the ingredients in this recipe gives it a bland and cooling effect to our body. The crux of this dish is the manner in which the ingredients are nicely blended with each other and the bringing out the sweetness of tamarind by boiling it nicely. The trick of making a mouth-watering, flavourful Tamarind Saar is putting the right amount of spices, salt and sugar.
Most of the coastal belt dishes contain coconut as the main ingredient, but a very few dishes like Tomato Saar does not contain coconut or tamarind. Similarly in Southern India, Dal is a very popular and a must ingredient almost used every day. This humble dal which is made watery to a thin consistency, seasoned with mustard, curry leaves and garlic is called a ‘Saar’ which is a close cousin of the Rasam. ‘Saar’s can be of various types depending on the ingredients that go into it.
Tamarind is extensively used in south East Asian and Indian cooking to flavour a variety of curries, chutneys and stews. It has a unique sweet and sour flavour. The sweet and sour taste of tamarind blends well with hot spices like chillies giving a sour element to the overall taste. It is also used to add tartness and darken the colouring of a dish.
The taste of sourness comes in many flavours and nuances. The soft fruity acidity of tamarind provides a harmonious acid counterpoint for the richness of coconut milk in the curries of southern Indian and South -East Asian cuisines. Tamarind pulp is essential for the South Indian coconut and mint chutney that accompanies idli, dosa or vada. In dishes of sweet-sour flavours where the fragrant palm sugar provides the sweet profile, tamarind rather than vinegar gives the right tone of sourness.
Tamarind’s flavour takes centre stage in the myriad sour, soupy dishes of these hot climates. South Indian cuisine features a raft of watery spiced “soups” called rasam in which tamarind provides the distinctive tangy sharpness. In Andhra Pradesh, a soupy, sour stew of fish (Chapala pulusu) or shrimps (royyala pulusu) or meat (chicken pulusu) is often regarded a delicacy in which the tamarind pulp is most preferred.
Tamarind is valued not only as a cooking ingredient, but also for its properties as a cooling and cleansing agent for the body, particularly for the liver and kidneys. Indeed, the Burmese believe that the body can cooled in hot weather simply by sitting under the tamarind tree. Tamarind pulp is made into a cordial base which is diluted with icy water for a very refreshing drink. This light broth is not only a treat to the mouth but also has medicinal values.
To prepare this mouth-watering, delicious, and flavourful Chincheche Saar, firstly soak the tamarind in some hot water for half hour. Add 4 cups of water to this and mix it well to make tamarind juice. In little oil in a pan for tempering, add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and chopped onions. Add paste of ginger, garlic, coriander leaves and green chillies and sauté well. Add pinch of hing, turmeric powder, black pepper pd, red chilli powder and pinch of garam masala and sauté in low flame. Add one cup of tamarind juice, salt, pinch of sugar and bring it to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Boil well until the froth disappears and add one tsp of fresh grated coconut and mix well and simmer for 2 mins. The Chincheche saar is ready to be served. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Tips: The main trick in getting the flavours is adding the right amount of salt and sugar. Dilute the tamarind juice with water if it’s too thick.
Well, I am sure most of us would love this recipe because it’s very light. If you’ve had a heavy lunch/dinner at your favourite restaurant, then this is perfect for you, a fragrant concoction, irresistible, satisfying and divine. Just try this recipe, as you’ll surely enjoy the flavours. Click on the link to view the making of this dish: