Bokkala charu (rasam made with bones - or bone soup, I guess)

I was looking up recipes for Telangana bokkala charu on Youtube and there are some amazing videos – an anthropologist’s feast with all this recent Telangana cultural revival and wonderful examples of people nearly deliberately speaking ‘rough’ Telugu – to be more Hyderabadi. There’s TV companies for you! Anyway – here’s a simple one I rather like the look of, and I am just off to Derby Road to buy some mutton marrow bones, can’t wait!!

1 kg mutton or lamb marrow bones/ ribs/ chops, in 2 to 3 inch pieces, not too large. Washed.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Fifteen large karyapak leaves (curry leaves)

3 green chillies, chopped fine

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 medium tomatoes chopped.


a dozen mint leaves

small handful kothmir (coriander)

The green stalks of a bunch of spring onions chopped

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Possibly a squeeze of lemon at the end

1 teaspoon pepper corns 

2 inch piece of ginger – grated or chopped fine (might be good with some garlic too)

In a pressure cooker, add the oil, and when hot add the pepper corns, the cumin and mustard seeds and  after a few seconds, add the karyapak, then the chillies and the ginger. Then the mint and kothmir. Then the spring onions. Now put in the bones, stir around for a few minutes until they sort of are coated and fry a bit. Then add the turmeric and the salt and tomatoes. And about a litre and a half of water. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and cook it for 8 to 10 whistles, as they say, basically turning it down after the second whistle and letting it cook longer under pressure. After you open the lid it might be a good idea to let it boil again for a bit with the lid on. Maybe add more water – in case your pressure cooker can’t take too much initially. The bones should be falling apart almost – soft. Taste and see whether a bit of lemon would add a good kick.

That’s really it. If you want it as a soup, put a few bones in each soup bowl and ladle the liquid on it. It should look a pale golden brown, not dark.

Turned out wonderful – almost. Didn’t quite get the taste right. I  could change the talimpu a bit (no pepper, no mustard seeds, use a few fenugreek seeds, and a few bashed up cardamom seeds in addition to the cumin seeds). Keep the rest the same. What I actually did yesterday was add cold beaten yogurt to the charu, folded it right in, and it was absolutely great. Added a nice touch of tang.

bokkala charu.jpg