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Father's Day Special: 'My Dad Was A Complete Foodie'

June 16, 2023 12:54 IST
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Chef Sara Jacob Nair shares food memories of her late father M J Jacob, who retired as Kochi's commissioner of police.

My dad was a complete foodie, but hardly dared to cook because my mother was a force in the kitchen and people all over just loved her food. He could never compete with her. But did he have an opinion on food and every dish that was cooked at home.

Unlike any other foodie that I know, he saw food as a medicine for the body as well and ate specific foods at specific times.

Fruit in the morning, curd in the afternoon and never for dinner, kanji for dinner, alcohol always post 8 pm and so on.

Soup was an integral part of his daily diet, which was mostly consumed by 6.30 pm or so. Soup in any form was so well loved by him and he always used it as an opportunity to nourish than to warm oneself up (Kerala was too hot anyways).

He hated anything bland with a vengeance and hence rasam was his favourite soup.

Much before moringa was fashionably healthy, dad drove my mother crazy by getting moringa leaves and drumsticks from our farm in quantities that would drive her up the wall. And his submission was -- make some soup.

So, I always fondly remember the Drumstick Rasam, though I hated the frequency with which it would appear in front of me while growing up.

But today, I just love it because I can drink it up or have it with hot rice and papad.

Drumstick Rasam

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes Photograph: Kind courtesy: Billjones94/Wikimedia Commons

Drumstick Rasam

Serves: 3-4


  • 15 moringa or drumsticks, steamed
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 15 medium garlic pods + 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • 1½-inch piece ginger
  • 3-4 sambar onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1 lemon-sized ball imli or tamarind, optional
  • 2 heaped tsp rasam powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • 4-5 whole dried red chillies 
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
  • 5 cups water
  • Handful green dhania or coriander or cilantro, finely chopped


  • Chop the tomatoes.
    Squish the chopped tomatoes with your hands to a semi-pulpy consistency.
    Keep aside.
  • Crush the garlic pods, ginger, peppercorns, cumin seeds together coarsely with a mortar and pestle.
  • Remove the pulp/flesh and seeds from insides of the drumsticks and keep aside.
    Do not throw the drumstick skin or outer covering.
    Bend it and make it into small bundles. 
  • Warm 2 cups water and soak the tamarind in it.
    Keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of the ghee in large saucepan and add the crushed ingredients.
    Fry for a minute or two.
    Then add the chopped tomatoes and the drumstick pulp.
    Add the salt and cover and cook for a minute.
    Add the rasam powder and mix well.
    Add the tamarind water, the remaining water, the drumstick skins and let it boil for about 10 minutes or till the tamarind and the drumsticks are cooked through and soft.
    Once done, take off heat and add the chopped coriander leaves.
  • In a tempering pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp ghee and the coconut oil.
    Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies, the 1 tbsp crushed garlic, shallots and fry till it becomes slightly crisp around the edges.
    Take off heat and add it to the rasam.

Sara is the chef and founding partner of Nair On Fire, a chain of delivery kitchens in Mumbai.


Father's Day is just around the corner and we invite Get Ahead readers to share their dad's favourite recipes with us.

It could be a dish your father loves to eat or the special recipe you make that he enjoys most or even a dish he likes to cook.

Send your recipes to along with your NAME and the place where you LIVE. We'll publish the most interesting ones right here on

Remember to mention your father's name. And don't forget to send a photograph of yourself with your father. We'll publish it along with the recipe.

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