Rasam is synonymous with soup. Sassy, clear soup. A South Indian staple.
Pleasantly light, fabulously sour and delightfully spicy. With full flavors of—sweet, sour, salty, spicy—in every bite. Ahhh, bliss!
Besides, a glass of rasam is a surefire way to boost your health and spirits whenever you are under the weather. Oh yeah. The punchy flavors are good for whatever ails you, and -- equally good for digestion, too.
This lip-smacking recipe is flavored with tomatoes, lime juice and tamarind, imparting a powerful kick. Spices like pungent asafetida, hot red chilies, aromatic turmeric and coriander are added for a striking flavor, whereas, salt softens the bite of tamarind and tempers the heat of spices. Seasoning with mustard, cumin and curry leaves transports this dish to a new level with its compelling savory fragrance. In a nutshell, rasam is a much lighter and diluted version of sambar, yet with a distinct and more appealing flavor. A truly comfort food.
Enough. Let me stop this inarticulate babble and dive into the recipe.
Rasam — Hot and sour vegan soup
¼ cup pigeon peas or split yellow lentils (toor dhal), rinsed
7 cups water, or more per preference
3 large tomatoes, pureed
½ teaspoon asafetida
½ teaspoon pepper powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
4 dry red chili, broken into two
2 sprig curry leaves
2 small shallots, crushed
6 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, crushed
¼ cup coriander leaves
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
lime size tamarind, soaked in 1 cup warm water for 15 minutes and strained
juice of ½ lime, or to taste
salt, to taste
2 tablespoon oil, or ghee (use coconut oil for authentic taste)
½ tablespoon powdered jaggery, or to taste
Puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor; set aside. Crush ginger, garlic ans shallots using a mortar and pestle.
Cook dhal in 4 cups water until very soft and mushy; then give it a quick pulse in a blender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large deep pan over medium-low heat. Add mustards and cumin and fry till they splutter, about 30 seconds. Tip in curry leaves, red chili and few coriander leaves and toss for 5 seconds. Add ginger, garlic and shallots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Now add all the powders -- asafetida, pepper, turmeric, coriander -- and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in tomato puree and tamarind water and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour in mashed dhal, season, and cook for 6 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and dilute the soup by adding 3-4 cups of water, depending on how thick/thin you prefer it. Keep in mind that the flavors are punchy enough to be served very thin and still enjoyed in each sip.
Drizzle with the lime juice, tip in the jaggery, scatter with the remaining coriander leaves, and then simmer for 10 more minutes, until it starts to froth. Finally, taste and season with salt and a touch more lime juice, if you like.
Serve hot. Make sure to give a quick stir before ladling into glasses, as the spices tend to settle to the bottom.
Enjoy sips of rasam straight from the glass, or with steamed rice, if you like. Whatever, it’s very comforting and you’ll want seconds.
Bon appétit and happy weekend everyone!