My mother never made Rasam at home. It was always something we had at South Indian Coffee houses along with crispy poppadum. In fact, growing up I would never pick Rasam to order even though it was the perfect soup for a person like me who would catch a cold easily. For me, it was always a plate of Idli with sambar and coconut chutney. At the time, I found it to be too spicy, too watery and confusing for my palate. But over time, Rasam has became my choice of soup in times of flu.
So what kind of Rasam will you make?
The answer to this question didn’t come easily. I tried different ways of making Rasam, often exchanging notes with my sister in Bangalore. Her cook would make the meanest Rasam there is. She would explain to me a series of steps to make Rasam without the use of Rasam Powder which was otherwise easily available to me. But the package instructions of the Rasam Powder box and my sister’s instructions made it very confusing for me to make Rasam.
Some research on the plethora of South Indian food blogs confused me further over the kinds of Rasam there is. There’s tomato, dal, pepper and what not. Should I boil some toor dal or just use the Rasam powder? Should I add the tamarind or should I skip it. But after some experimentation, I finally have arrived at two different ways of making Rasam. The one I am going to share here is partly inspired by the recipe shared by my sister’s cook, Neelam. The other recipe is a tomato Rasam that I’ve adapted from another food blog. But I’ll talk about that version some other time.
Garlicky or Minty or both?
This Rasam tastes garlicky and minty at the same time and would truly awaken your immunity cells to spring into action. If you are having this for a cold, I assure you that it would definitely provide you some relief. All you have to do is not skimp on the use of black pepper.
Here’s how I make Rasam, a soup that is perfect for the Flu season
Prep Time: 10 mins ; Cooking Time: 30 minutes; Total Time : 40 minutes
Yields 4-5 cups
- Arhar Dal ( Toor dal) 1/2 cup
- Filtered water, 2 cups
- Salt to taste
- Tamarind, a small lemon sized piece, soaked in water
- Garlic, 1 big clove, chopped
- Ginger, an inch long piece, finely chopped
- Fresh Mint leaves, 1/2 cup
- Coriander leaves with stems, 1/2 cup
- Dry Red Chilli, 1
- Cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon
- Whole Black pepper, 5-6
- Sesame Oil, 1 tablespoon
- Mustard Seeds, 1/2 teaspoon
- Chana Dal (Bengal Gram), 1 teaspoon
- Tomato, 1 large, chopped
- Turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Start by gathering this long list of ingredients. Clean the mint and coriander leaves and wash off any dirt. Wash the Arhar dal till water runs clear and then soak in 2 cups water.
Soak the tamarind in hot water and then strain after 10 minutes to remove seeds and pulp. Reserve the tamarind water to use later.
Pressure cook the dal for 2 whistles. While the dal cooks, prep other ingredients.
No Rasam powder? No problem!
In a small pan, dry roast the chana dal, cumin seeds, black pepper seeds and the dry red chilli together on low heat, till the colour of the dal changes to a light brown. Take out from the pan and let it cool.
In a mortar and pestle, add garlic, ginger, mint and coriander leaves with the dry roasted dal and spices. Pound these to make a coarse paste.
In a kadhai or a deep saucepan, add oil and let it heat on medium low heat. Once hot, add the pounded masala and sauté for 2 minutes.
Follow by adding a roughly chopped large tomato and stir. Add salt and turmeric powder and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.
Next, add cooked Arhar dal, tamarind water and maybe a cup of water to adjust the consistency. Mix everything and let it come to a roaring boil. Once the Rasam boils, let it simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes.