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Rasam, is a South Indian dish, usually served as a second course with rice or you can drink it up like a soup. It’s quite thin but packed with flavor and it helps with cold weather ailments, this thin soup brings happiness on the tongue and throat.

The rasam gets its sour taste from the tomatoes and tamarind and warmth from the spices. The most basic Rasam is the one that uses just tamarind water, tomatoes and rasam powder. But I always opt for a more wholesome rasam with lentils and coriander|cilantro leaves. For me, rasam without cilantro is incomplete. You can add fresh garlic, ginger or slit green chili for a more piquant taste, and finally, to give it that last comfort note, the note I love so much in rasam, I always temper mustard seeds in Ghee at the end.

We adore rasam with all our heart, it satisfies us after long travel and when we miss home food the most. Rasam and rice are excellent and quite authentic with Paruppu Usili or poriyal like cabbage or potato. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.



For Rasam Powder: I’ll update the recipe sometime soon, you can use store-bought rasam powder too, which you can get in all Indian Grocery store. Homemade rasam powder, except for the number of ingredients and time it takes to grind the spices, one can make Rasam pretty quickly. One way to speed the process is to make and keep rasam powder handy for the next time.

There are tons of rasam variety: with or without tamarind and lentil, pepper, garlic, coconut, lemon, pineapple and many more.

For Indian cooking, Identifying the spices and knowing to use a pressure cooker are very important. The pressure cooker cuts cooking times dramatically, I cook nearly anything in my pressure cooker: rice, beans and great for steaming vegetables. If you do not have a pressure cooker: Wash and drain the lentil. Put lentil in a heavy saucepan and cover with 2 cups water, bring to boil. Once it’s boiling, cover with lid, lower heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.

Serves: 2-3

Recipe: Amma
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients you’ll need:

1/3 cup of cooked Pigeon peas
Tamarind – a gooseberry sized ball (Soak in 1 cup of warm water)
1 large Tomato – chopped in big chunks
2 pods of garlic – optional
1 tbsp Rasam Powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
A generous pinch of asafoetida
1.5 tsp Salt or to taste
1 tbsp Chopped Coriander leaves | Cilantro
1/4 tsp Jaggery | sugar – Optional
1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper and cumin-optional

For tempering:
1 Ghee | Clarified butter
1/2 tsp mustard seeds


Soak the tamarind in one cup of hot water for 15 mins. Extract juice once the water is warm.

Over medium heat, in a heavy bottom pot: Pour the tamarind extract, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic (optional), rasam powder, turmeric powder, pinch of asafoetida and salt. Add 1 more cup of water and bring to boil. Continue to simmer until the tomatoes are completely cooked and the tamarind extract is well cooked with the spices (about 12-15 mins)

Add the cooked lentil and 1.5 cups of water, then lower flame to simmer.

Sprinkle coriander leaves and 1/4 tsp sugar (optional). If you prefer cumin and pepper flavor on the higher side, using a mortor and pestel, crush cumin seeds and black peppercorns into a coarse powder and add towards the end. Mix well and remove from fire. The key to good rasam apart from fresh ingredients is in the preparation method. The right time to remove rasam from heat is when froth starts forming at the top, it is believed that the rasam loses its flavor if boiled for long time after the lentil is added.

For tempering: Heat ghee in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. After they pop, switch off flame and add it to the rasam.

Garnish with more chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice.

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January 2018
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