Rasam is a light soup from South India. There are many different types of rasams, such as tomato rasam, lemon rasam and garlic rasam. It usually has a sour taste, either from tamarind or lemon juice. Many rasam recipes have tomatoes, and common spices include roasted cumin seeds, fried mustard seeds and curry leaves, lentils, and chili, of course. Rasam is my child’s new favorite Indian dish. We love the sour taste of the tamarind balanced with the sweetness of a few dates instead of the usual white sugar or jaggery sugar. As a light meal, we like it with papaR, Indian lentil chips.
- 3 medium tomatoes, halved
- 1 lime sized ball of tamarind with seeds, or 2 T tamarind pulp
- 3 dates (optional)
- 1 t cumin
- 6 black peppercorns
- 3/4 t salt
- 1 T ghee/oil
- ¼ t black mustard seeds
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 t red chili powder (optional)
- ¼ t turmeric
- Pinch or 2 of hing
- Curry leaves, 1 stem
Make the concentrate
- Soak pitted dates in a bowl of 1 cup warm water. With hands submerged in the same water, remove the seeds and any hard material from the tamarind. Most of a sticky ball of tamarind is seed with very little pulp leftover.
- Blend tamarind and date mixture. Add tomatoes and blend.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on about medium to medium-high. Dry roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns. Remove from heat before turning completely brown. Grind to a powder in a spice/coffee grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin.
Make the soup
Heat tamarind, date and tomato blend in a medium sauce pan. Add roasted cumin, black pepper, salt and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a simmer.
Add the spices
While soup is just heating up, in a small pan heat the ghee/oil on medium to medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds. When most seeds have popped, add garlic, turmeric and red chili powder (if using). Turn down the heat and cook garlic pieces. Then add hing and curry leaves and turn off heat. Add spices to soup.