Rasam is a South Indian comfort food. It is kind of a clear soup that is normally mixed with white rice and eaten as a second course of a South Indian meal. Some like to have it just as a soup. No matter how you have it, it helps you feel light and comfortable even after a heavy meal.
There are many varieties of Rasam, and Tomato Rasam is a very basic and common one. This is my mother’s recipe and I’ve just made a teeny weeny change to it by replacing regular tomatoes with cherry tomoatoes. Sweet cherry or grape tomatoes make it extra tasty especially when you mash and mix them also with rice. Every family has its own way of making rasam and this is one of the ways my mother makes it.
6-8 cherry or grape tomatoes
10 grams tamarind (about the size of a large cherry tomato)
1 tbsp rasam powder (see below for recipe)
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp jaggery (grated)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
salt to taste
for tempering (tadka)
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon oil or ghee (clarified butter)
4-5 curry leaves
Place the tamarind in a microwaveable bowl, add a cup of water and microwave it for a minute. This is an alternate method to soak tamarind in water until it becomes soft and mashable. Keep it aside and let it cool.
Meanwhile, pierce the cherry tomatoes with a fork and put them in a sauce pan/soup pot. Piercing the tomatoes help them release their juice into the rasam and also absorb the flavor/taste from it. Add rasam powder, asafoetida, salt and jaggery. Jaggery helps to balance the tartness from the tamarind and the heat from the rasam powder. It does not make the rasam sweet, I assure.
Feel free to add a couple of cloves of garlic if you’d like. It does impart a different and appetizing flavor to the rasam. I do it occasionally and I do like it.
Mash and squeeze the tamarind while still retaining the hot water. Strain it and add the tamarind water to the sauce pan. Add remaining 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer it for a couple of minutes and turn off heat. Add chopped cilantro.
In a small skillet heat oil or ghee and add mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add curry leaves, gently toss and add to rasam. Serve as soup or with rice.
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon toor dhal
2 tablespoon coriander seeds
6-8 dry red chillies
Grind all the ingredients together in a mixer or coffee grinder. The powder will be somewhat coarse and not very fine and that is alright. Some dry roast the ingredients before grinding, but I prefer to grind them raw, the way my mother used to.
This yields about 1/2 cup of rasam powder. Store in an air tight container.