Category Archives: Soups

Rasam (South Indian tomato and lentil soup)


This is a basic recipe for the humble rasam. This lentil soup consisting of dal, tomato and spices is a must-have in tambram meals. It forms a part of the staple three course meal at the in-laws, the recipe being handed down from Paatima to MIL. I have borrowed this from Paatima, hoping to one day achieve the magic taste that her seasoned hands stir up everyday.

The recipe:

Source – Paatima

Cooking time – 30 minutes

Serves – 3 – 4

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup dal (boiled or pressure cooked)
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 2 tbsp freshly sqeezed tamarind pulp or 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tsp rasam powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • A pinch of pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 – 3 curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 – 3 coriander leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp ghee (Great if you have it. If not, butter could be a substitute)
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. Take 2 – 3 cups of water in a pot. Add the chopped tomatoes, rasam powder, hing, tamarind pulp, corinder leaves, and salt. I skipped the coriander in my recipe because I didn’t have any today. Cook this mixture for 15 – 20 minutes.
  2. Lightly whisk the cooked dal with an egg-beater or a spoon to partially mash the dal.
  3. Pour the dal and a small pinch of pepper (optional) into the boiling tomato soup and adjust the level of water to achieve a thin soupy consistency. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Taste check for your preferred level of salt and tanginess (tamarind). Once you’re happy, remove it from the stove.
  4. The final step is to season the rasam. Heat the ghee in a pan and add in the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, throw in a sprig of curry leaves and a pinch of hing. Season the rasam with this hot mixture.  (I used butter since I don’t store ghee at home. Butter provides the same taste like ghee, however the flipside is that it tends to burn more easily.)
  5. Serve hot with rice. You can also serve it by itself as a soup.

Note: Step 4 might seem like a trivial step that we sometimes feel like eliminating for the wont of time, and to let you all into a secret, I’ve done that a couple of times myself. But  I highly recommend that you go the whole hog and do this final step, especially if you’re making this for guests. 😉  May be its just an acquired sense of smell but the aroma from the ghee transforms this soup into a divine concoction and fills the place with a wonderful waft, bringing hungry stomachs to the dinner table. 🙂