Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Recently I made up a batch Rasam. Rasam is a soup that is popular in Southern India. It is usually a brothy soup that is made with lentils... but there are other varieties as well. Rasam translates to mean juice or soup... so technically I guess any soup would be a Rasam... but the ones I've tried are usually a tangy spicy lentil broth. They have a tangy flavor that is often a result of the use of tamarind... but since I didn't have any tamarind on hand I used lemon juice (a common substitution). The texture of a Rasam ranges from slightly chunky to a thin and broth like consistency... Mine fell somewhere in between.

Like dals all over India, making this soup requires that you cook the lentils until they are the desired texture and then add a mixture sauteed in ghee (clarified butter) that usually consists of onions, garlic, chilies and whole spices like cumin and mustard seeds. Other possibilities are curry leaves and asafoetida (a really smelly powder that tastes somewhat like onions and garlic)

Rasam in it's many variations is a year round favorite in Southern India... and it is also used as a folk remedy for a variety of cold and flu like symptoms. I can speak from experience... this nice spicy broth really clears your head and make you feel better when your feeling under the weather.

Here is what I did to make mine....

First I gathered together my ingredients:

1/2 C. pink lentils (washed several times and then soaked in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes)


1/4 t. turmeric

1/2 t. salt

a good size chunk of fresh ginger (grated)

1-3 green chilies

1 medium tomato

2 whole dried red chili peppers

1/2 t. black mustard seeds

1/2 t. cumin seeds

1/2 t. black pepper

1 small onion

a few cloves of garlic

2 T. lemon juice

1/2 C. chopped cilantro

Transfer lentils with soaking water into a pan and add turmeric. salt and 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. The dal should be very soft at this point. I then used a hand held mixer to make the mixture as smooth as possible. in the meantime blend the tomatoes, ginger and chilies for about 30 seconds in a blender. Add to the dal to make approximately 4 cups of soup. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Heat oil or ghee and cook the mustard and cumin seeds until they begin to pop. Add the onions, garlic and dried chilies. Cook until the onions are golden and soft.

Add it all to the pot along with the lemon juice and cilantro. Bring it all back up to a boil and then it is ready to serve.


1 comment:

  1. This would be perfect on a rainy day like today. :)



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