Rasam is a spicy and tangy South Indian soup or stew made using tomatoes, tamarind, and a spice mix called rasam powder. It is a staple in most South Indian households and is served with steamed rice for everyday meals. Make it using my simple recipe in under 20 minutes.
About This Recipe
Rasam is a spicy and tangy South Indian soup or stew made using tomatoes, tamarind, and a freshly made spice mix called rasam powder. It is a staple in South Indian homes and is made for everyday meals to be served with steamed rice. You can also relish it as a warm and comforting soup on cold days.
Rasam word is derived from the word “ras” which literally translates to juice.
Also known as saaru in Kannada and chaaru in Telugu, it has multiple variations. Each region has its own version and it also differs from house to house.
Some people make it with lentils and some do not, some add rasam powder to their recipe and some make it without it. Pineapple, green mango, garlic, ginger, beetroot, cumin, pepper, etc are added to give it a delicious twist.
In today’s post, I am sharing the basic tomato rasam recipe which I make frequently at home. This recipe can be made with and without rasam powder and tastes absolutely delicious.
Tomato – Tomatoes makes the base of rasam and adds a tangy sweet taste to it.
Toor Dal – You can make rasam with the lentils or without. I like to add some in mine as they make it slightly thicker. Toor dal or pigeon peas lentils are cooked and then added to the rasam. If you want to make it without the dal, just skip adding it to the recipe.
You can cook the dal in a traditional pressure cooker or an instant pot. Check out my detailed toor dal recipe.
Tamarind Paste – This is one of the main ingredients and it adds that much-needed tanginess. You can either use store-bought tamarind paste or make it at home using seedless tamarind.
Soak seedless tamarind in hot water for 15-20 minutes, squeeze out the juice and discard the pulp. Use the tamarind water in the recipe in place of store-bought tamarind paste. Adjust the quantity according to how tangy you like.
Rasam Powder – Rasam gets its taste from the use of rasam powder. I like to make rasam powder at home but if you are on a time crunch, use the store-bought powder.
Tempering Ingredients – Once the rasam is ready, it is tempered with mustard seeds, asafetida (hing), and dry red chilies which enhances its taste even more. Tempering is optional, but it does add a great taste.
Other Ingredients – You will also need garlic, curry leaves, crushed black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cilantro (coriander), and salt.
How to Make Rasam
Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 2 teaspoon tamarind paste, ¼ cup cooked and mashed tuvar dal (pigeon peas), 2-3 smashed garlic cloves, and 10-12 curry leaves to a pan.
Add 2 cups of water and cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes.
Now add 1 tablespoon rasam powder, ½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds, and salt to taste and cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil.
Add 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (coriander) and remove the pan from heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee for tempering in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
Once the ghee is hot, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing), and 1 broken dry red chili and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
Pour the tempering over the rasam and stir well. Serve hot with steamed rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Rasam is supposed to have many medicinal benefits as it is loaded with warm spices. It is light on the stomach and aids digestion. It is a sure-shot remedy for a cold and upset stomach. Since it has a lot of fibers, it helps in improving bowel movements. It helps to remove toxins from the body by making the body sweat and produce more urine. It is loaded with anti-oxidants and keeps the skin younger-looking.
Yes, you can replace tamarind with freshly squeezed lime juice or kokum. Though tamarind adds a unique taste, both the above options are great substitutes to add tanginess.
If using kokam, add 2-3 pieces while cooking and if using lime juice, add it once the rasam is ready and off heat.
You can make a big batch of rasam powder at home and keep using it to make rasam. This powder will stay good for 15 days in an airtight container.
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
¼ cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
¼ cup chana dal (split chickpeas)
¾ cup coriander seeds
5-6 dry red chilies
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 sprig curry leaves
¼ teaspoon asafetida
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add toor dal, and chana dal, and dry roast them on low heat until the lentils change their color and leaves a nice aroma. Transfer them to a plate.
In the same pan, add coriander seeds, and dry red chilies, and dry roast them till they turn crisp. Take them out on the same plate.
Add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and black peppercorn to the pan. Roast them on low heat for about 2 minutes and take them out on the same plate.
Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and add curry leaves. Fry them till they are crisp and then add them to the plate. Let this mixture cool down completely. Add everything to a grinder along with asafetida and grind to make a fine powder. Store in a clean and dry glass jar.
Yes, if you are looking for a no onion no garlic recipe, you can simply skip adding garlic.
It is traditionally served with steamed rice and a dollop of ghee or with curd rice. A side of poriyal or thoran makes this meal even better.
It can be had on its own as a soup. It is a great recipe for winters or even a better recipe if you are suffering from cold, fever, stomach problems, or generally feeling sick.
You can also serve Podi of your choice along with this comforting rasam rice combination.
Rasam Idli and Vada are popular combinations too, which are usually served for breakfast.
Although rasam tastes the best when made fresh, you can easily refrigerate the leftovers for 3-4 days. Reheat in a pan until the boil comes over, or it can also be heated in the microwave.
It is freezer-friendly too! You can also freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Just thaw, heat, and use.
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- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
- ¼ cup cooked and mashed toor dal (yellow pigeon peas lentils)
- 2-3 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 10-12 curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon rasam powder
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (coriander)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing)
- 1 dry red chili (broken)
- Add chopped tomatoes, tamarind paste, cooked and mashed tuvar dal (pigeon peas lentils), smashed garlic cloves, and curry leaves to a pan.
- Add 2 cups of water and cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes.
- Now add rasam powder, crushed black peppercorns, crushed cumin seeds, and salt and cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil.
- Add chopped cilantro (coriander) and remove the pan from heat.
- Heat ghee for tempering in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once the ghee is hot, add mustard seeds, asafetida (hing), and broken dry red chili and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
- Pour the tempering over the rasam and stir well. Serve hot with steamed rice.