Markandam Rasam (Breastbone Curry)

Markandam means thoracic cavity in Tamil. It consists of the ribs and the muscles on them. My grandmother used to prepare this breastbone curry whenever we were recovering from an illness. She believed that the minerals from the bones helped to build immunity. That is why it is called ‘Rasam’ meaning extract. Because it is rasam, the gravy is quite thin in spite of the coconut added to it. It is my favourite mutton preparation, and I used to pester my mother to make it even when we were not ill. Having piping hot markandam rasam with piping hot rice in winter is absolutely divine 🙂


Markandam Rasam - Kalas Kalai
Markandam Rasam (Breastbone Curry)

Nutritive Value

The meat on the breastbone of lamb gives 18g of protein per 100g. It is a moderately protein-rich dish. It is difficult to quantify how much of the minerals is likely to have been extracted from the bone into the rasam.


  • ½ kg Breastbone, with meat on it
  • 1 large Onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp Pepper Corns
  • 8 Garlic Cloves
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ C Coconut scrapings
  • ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • 3 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • Fistful of Tamarind

Fry and powder

  • 5 Dry Chillies, deseeded
  • 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1-2 tsp Pepper Corns
  • ½ C Curry Leaves


  1. Soak the tamarind in hot water for 30 minutes. Extract the juice to make 1 cup.
  2. Using a few drops of ghee, fry the ingredients listed under ‘Fry and powder,’ individually. The curry leaves should be fried to a crisp texture.
  3. Powder the dry chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and pepper corns in a mixie or blender. Then add the curry leaves and powder again to get a fine powder.
  4. Grind the coconut in a mixie or blender to a fine paste.
  5. Pressure cook the breastbones along with half the sliced onion, turmeric powder, garlic cloves, pepper corns, and a teaspoon of salt for 20 minutes.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the onion.
  7. Fry the onion till translucent.
  8. Lower heat and add the cooked breastbones along with the stock.
  9. Heat to simmer.
  10. Add the powdered masala, ground coconut, and tamarind extract. Add sufficient water to get a slightly thin gravy. Adjust salt.
  11. When the rasam begins to boil, add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
  12. Serve with rice and Stir-Fried Capsicum and Cabbage Salad.


  1. The tamarind extract should be strained twice to remove grit.
  2. Buy the breastbone and then ask the butcher to cut it. If you order breastbones, they may come with the meat scraped off.
  3. I have given 1-2 teaspoon pepper corns so that you can adjust the heat as you prefer.

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