Rasam is I guess in many ways the South Indian version of soup. It’s a hearty dish that is very thin, watery in texture and usually served with a little rice. The flavour is a mix of sour (from the tamarind), sweet (tomatoes) and spicy. In India it is usually served as a light starter or as a side dish.
For many Indians Rasam is their comfort food of choice. While there are many variations of rasam I’ve tried to develop a simple recipe here that uses basic ingredients.
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of ghee or oil
- golf ball size piece of tamarind
- 750ml of water
- 1 teaspoon of roasted and crushed cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon of crushed black peppercorns
- 1 crushed red dried chilli
- 3 fresh green chillies
- 3 tablespoons of split orange lentils
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 pinch of salt
- fresh coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
First of all soak the tamarind in hot water (just enough to cover it) for around 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes and crushing the tamarind with the back of a wooden spoon to get the juices/flavour out.
While the tamarind is soaking add some oil/ghee to a pan and add the mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds start popping add the turmeric, dried chilli, crushed black pepper and asafoetida and cook off for 30 seconds. Next add the chopped tomatoes, salt, green chilies (cut diagonally), ginger, lentils and water. Finally take the tamarind water/paste and sieve into the other ingredients forcing any tamarind paste through the sieve.
Simmer on a low/medium heat for around 20 minutes and garnish with some fresh coriander to serve.