Vepampoo Rasam (Dried Neem Flower Rasam for Tamil New Year)

Vepampoo Rasam is a traditional South Indian Rasam Variety made with dried or fresh neem flowers for the auspicious Tamil New Year or Puthandu Festival.

Vepampoo Rasam (Dried Neem Flower Rasam for Tamil New Year)

I am sure you must be wondering – Rasam with Neem? Well, don’t be surprised if I tell you that we love this Rasam at home made with Vepampoo or Neem Flowers.

You don’t have to look at expensive detox plans when you receive such seasonal bounty from Mother Nature. These are traditional Superfoods, native to India, sadly losing out their status to expensive ingredients. Time to bring them back! Are you with me?

Do you know that the Neem Tree is considered as a manifestation of Goddess Durga or Kali. In India, when you suffer from measles or chicken pox, the neem leaves are helpful in reducing the skin irritation caused by the boils. Having a bath with neem infused water is found effective against the reduction of scars or marks left by the chicken pox.

Coming back to the recipe – Rasam is basically popular as South Indian Soup world over. It is a thin broth that is flavoured with herbs, spices, lentils and in this case, dried neem flowers or vepampoo for its health benefits.

Vepampoo Rasam

Some Rasam Varieties that you would like to try at home – Pineapple Rasam, Lemon Rasam and Jeera Milagu Rasam.

Traditionally, Veppampoo also known as Neem Flower is consumed for Tamil New Year, Vishu or Tamil Puthandu every year. The flowers, just like the leaves, are bitter in taste too.

Significance of Neem Flower for Tamil New Year

Our New year also known as Vishu or Puthandu is celebrated in the month of April (14 or 15th every year). Some key seasonal ingredients are used as part of cooking or used for pooja at home.

They are Mango, Jackfruit, Neem Flowers and Leaves, Betel leaf and Banana. You can know more about Vishu celebrations by reading the post written by me few years back.

  • For Tamil New Year or Varushapirappu, we begin the day with a bath. We add neem leaves to the bathing water as it helps cleanse the body and prepares us for the seasonal change. Neem has antibacterial properties and hence used.
  • For New Year, we include different elements as part of our food that signifies seasonal change. With the neem flower, we also make a Pachadi that has elements like jaggery, chilli, salt, neem leaves or flowers and tamarind.
  • The elements are basically sweet, spicy, salt, bitter and sour. Very similar to how life is – It keeps changing, has various elements to it and one should savor all the experiences – good or bad with a positive mindset.
  • The Vepampoo or Neem Flower blooms during this time of the year and smells sweetly like the jasmine flower. It is white in colour and very tiny or tender. Fresh flowers are usually added to the recipe by roasting them in ghee and then adding it just before the Rasam is ready to eat.

Since Neem flower is not available throughout the year, I sun dry them, when in season and then freeze it to use throughout the year. Neem is an excellent detox for the body so consuming this Rasam once a month is a good way to enjoy the bitter neem.

If you do not have access to the flowers, try in any ayurvedic shops or shops that sell country medicines (nattu marundhu) which usually sell dry neem flowers.

Before you ask me – Oh yes, the flowers are bitter in taste and you can taste that in the Rasam as well. But when you know the amazing things neem flower does to your body to guard against the seasonal changes, you wouldn’t mind an extra bowlful of rasam.

My recipe for Neem Flower Rasam is quite different from the traditional one. This is how my MIL made it and taught to me by my husband. I learnt this post marriage for our first Puthandu or Vishu and since then I have mastered it now.

This Vepampoo Rasam Recipe includes Tamarind, Tomatoes and cooked lentils (Arhar Dal or Tuvar Dal) along with my Home Made Rasam Powder.

If you have tried Vepampoo Rasam earlier and have not been fans of it, try this method and like us, enjoy it every month as a detox.

Pro Tip – Roast the flowers (both fresh or dry) in ghee for best results. Ghee brings out the taste and aroma. Do not skip this method unless you are vegan.

Once I made this rasam, I quickly made some steamed rice and microwaved some karuvadam that I recently bought from our native place, Kallidaikuruchi. Trust me, you need nothing else except a long nap after a meal like this.

Vepampoo Rasam served with rice and papadam

I hope I have tempted you enough to try this recipe, please check out the step by step pictures and the detailed recipe card. Make some, share it with your loved ones for New Year.

How to Make Vepampoo Rasam with Step by Step pics

Recipe Notes

  • The Vepampoo Rasam should not be heated or boiled, especially after the dried flowers are added to it.
  • Also, let the rasam sit and absorb the dried neem flowers for a good 30 minutes before you serve. You will actually taste the bitterness of the neem.
  • The more the Rasam is stored, the more bitter it gets.
  • You can add slightly lesser quantity of the flowers as well, if you find it too bitter. Ensure you roast them in ghee on low flame.
  • Jaggery is added to balance the tamarind and bitterness from neem flowers. The quantity of jaggery mentioned in the recipe might seem a little more to you but it is actually required to cut down the bitterness (as we add around 1.25 tbsp of the flowers).
  • A key tip that I always follow for Rasam and Sambar is adding the salt at the very end of the recipe. Try this, if you haven’t.
  • The quantity of Dal or lentils may seem a lot to you but we prefer rasam and sambar both with more lentils. You can reduce the quantity, if required and make it more watery.
  • For a flavorful rasam instead of using compounded asafoetida or hing, use the rock hing (which is hard and needs to be pounded). I pound a small quantity and store.

I have listed few vegetables or side dishes that can be eaten with rasam rice. Scroll below to check it out.

Vepampoo Rasam Recipe

Vepampoo Rasam (Dried Neem Flower Rasam for Tamil New Year)

Vepampoo Rasam is a South Indian Rasam Variety made with dried or fresh neem flowers during Tamil New Year, Vishu or Puthandu. Step by Step Recipe with pics.
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Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, Tamil Nadu Recipes
Keyword: dried neem flower rasam, tamil new year recipes, Traditional Recipes, vepampoo rasam, Vishu recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup Tuvar Dal or Arhar Dal 1/3 cup is 60 ml measurement
  • 1 nos. Tomato (roughly chopped into pieces)
  • 1 nos Gooseberry size tamarind
  • 1.25 tbsp Vepampoo or Dried Neem Flour Check notes (1 tbsp is 15 ml measurement)
  • 1 tbsp Ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Jeera or Cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp Rasam Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida or hing
  • 1 tbsp Jaggery
  • finely chopped coriander leaves as required
  • few sprigs of curry leaves as required
  • salt to taste
  • Water (1/2 cup to soak the tamarind + Extra as required to adjust rasam consistency, pressure cook dal etc)

Instructions

  • Wash and soak Tuvar Dal or Arhar dal for atleast 15 minutes. Pressure cook the dal until soft and mushy.
  • Soak the tamarind in hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze out the liquid and keep aside.
  • In the meanwhile, prep your ingredients – Chop the tomatoes, roughly chop the coriander leaves, tear the curry leaves for aroma.
  • Heat a kadhai, add a 1 tsp of sesame oil, mustard seeds and jeera. Add some asafoetida or hing.
  • Now add chopped tomatoes and curry leaves. Saute this mixture until the tomatoes are mushy and can be slightly pressed from the back of the spoon.
  • Add the tamarind water along with some turmeric powder and rasam powder. Mix well and let this simmer until there is no raw smell of tamarind.
  • Add the cooked dal, mix well and add some water say 2 cups (1 cup is 250 ml) to adjust consistency. Add salt to taste only after you adjust the consistency. Also ensure the gas flame is low. Rasam should not keep boiling and salt should always be added towards the end.
  • Add the chopped coriander leaves and wait for the rasam to froth. Switch off the flame.
  • Now in a small tempering pan, add a tbsp of ghee or clarified butter and roast the neem flower until its nice and golden. Add this to the rasam, mix well, cover and keep aside for the rasam to absorb the neem flower flavors.
  • Serve the rasam after 15 minutes with rice and a poriyal of your choice.

Notes

  • The Vepampoo Rasam should not be heated or boiled, especially after the dried flowers are added to it.
  • Also, let the rasam sit and absorb the dried neem flowers for a good 30 minutes before you serve. You will actually taste the bitterness of the neem.
  • The more the Rasam is stored, the more bitter it gets.
  • You can add slightly lesser quantity of the flowers as well, if you find it too bitter. Ensure you roast them in ghee on low flame.
  • Jaggery is added to balance the tamarind and bitterness from neem flowers. The quantity of jaggery mentioned in the recipe might seem a little more to you but it is actually required to cut down the bitterness (as we add around 1.25 tbsp of the flowers).
  • A key tip that I always follow for Rasam and Sambar is adding the salt at the very end of the recipe. Try this, if you haven’t.
  • The quantity of Dal or lentils may seem a lot to you but we prefer rasam and sambar both with more lentils. You can reduce the quantity, if required and make it more watery.
  • For a flavorful rasam instead of using compounded asafoetida or hing, use the rock hing (which is hard and needs to be pounded). I pound a small quantity and store.

During Puthandu or Vishu, lunch is served on a banana leaf with various components. This Rasam is served with Rice and vegetables after the first course i.e. Sambar or Mor Kuzhambu.

Some of the Poriyal and Kootu options for serving with Vepampoo Rasam – Cabbage Poriyal, Vazhakkai Podimas, Vazhaithandu Kootu and Avarakkai Kootu.

Suggestions to use Neem Leaves at home (all these are tried and tested by me at home)

  • Soak handful of Neem leaves in a bucket full of warm water. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then have bath using that water. It helps in reducing heat from the body, skin irritation and dandruff too.
  • Grind the paste of neem leaves with some water and apply a pack to your face. It reduces the dark spots, scars or marks left from pimples or boils. If you have oily skin like me and are prone to acne, applying this pack once a day helps reduction in both oil secretion and acne.
  • Sun dry the leaves and add them to all your dry groceries like rice, lentils or dal, flour, semolina etc which are susceptible to bugs. Neem is a natural pest control for your house.
  • Grind the neem leaves, strain them and use the juice to spray on your plants. They will be free from worms, ants or small bugs.

Such methods, though traditional and slightly time consuming are 100% environment friendly. Imagine what little things that are forgotten over time can do to bring about a massive change to the present.

If you try and are successful in any of the methods, please don’t forget to share it with me. I would be happy to know it worked!

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Thank you for visiting

Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

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