Tomato, garlic, lentil, tamarind… Rasam lends itself to experiments with various flavours. A few recipes

Rasam is a South Indian variation of the soup, usually thin in consistency, and eaten with rice. But it may be served as an appetiser too. It’s very good for cough, cold and fever. It is very simple and quick to prepare.

There are many varieties such as tomato rasam, dal rasam, pepper-cumin rasam and garlic rasam. Rasam powder can be prepared at home. To prepare good rasam, pass boiled tomatoes through a strainer, pressing the tomatoes to extract the juice. Rasam should not be overcooked, to retain the flavours.

Here are a few recipes of easy-to-prepare rasam.

Tomato Rasam

Ingredients

4 tomatoes

3 cups of water

Quarter tsp turmeric powder

A pinch of asafoetida

A few curry leaves

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp chana dal

1 tsp coriander seeds

Quarter tsp cumin seeds

Quarter tsp fenugreek seeds

Quarter tsp mustard seeds

4 pepper corns

3-4 red chillies, whole

2 tsp coriander leaves

Oil for cooking

Salt to taste

Method

Boil the tomatoes with one cup of water. Keep on low flame for eight to 10 minutes till tomatoes turn soft. Remove from fire and add the remaining two cups of water. Macerate lightly and strain the tomatoes through a strainer to extract juice. Discard skin and keep juice aside.

Now fry cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, pepper, urad dal and chana dal till the dals turn golden. Now add red chilli and asafoetida and remove from the fire.

After some time, powder them. To the tomato juice, add curry leaves, salt, turmeric and boil. Add the prepared rasam powder. Simmer for 10 minutes. Temper with spluttered mustard and garnish with coriander leaves.

Garlic Rasam

Ingredients

5 large tomatoes, chopped

4 cups of water

2 tsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

A few curry leaves

7-8 flakes of garlic chopped

1 tsp roasted cumin seeds powder

2 tsp pepper powder

Quarter tsp turmeric powder

A handful of chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Method

Boil tomatoes with two cups of water in a pan. Simmer for a few minutes on low flame till tomatoes turn very soft. Remove from fire and macerate gently. Add the remaining two cups of water and macerate a little. Pass the juice through a strainer into a clean pan. Heat two tsp of oil in another pan. Add mustard seeds. When seeds splutter, reduce the flame and add curry leaves and garlic flakes. Fry till garlic turns golden. Add cumin seeds powder and pepper powder. Fry for a minute. Add tomato juice to it. Add turmeric powder and salt. Boil. Simmer on low flame for around 10 minutes. Add chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Serve hot.

Lentils Rasam

Ingredients

1 cup toovar dal

1 small-sized ball of tamarind

A handful of chopped coriander leaves

A pinch of asafoetida

3 red chillies

1 tsp cumin seeds

5-6 pepper corns

2 flakes garlic

A few curry leaves

Half tsp mustard seeds

Quarter tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Method

Soak tamarind in one cup of water for a few minutes and squeeze out the pulp. Wash and soak dal for 15 minutes in six cups of water. Roast and powder two red chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds, pepper corns. Put the dal to cook in the water in which it was soaked, along with turmeric till it is soft. Remove from fire, make into a pulp and pass through a sieve. Reheat the dal and add tamarind, powdered spices and salt. Bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to let it simmer for five minutes. Remove from fire and set aside. Heat a little oil in a pan and toss in red chilli, curry leaves, and mustard. When the mustards stops spluttering, add garlic and sauté till garlic changes colour. Pour this tempering into rasam. Serve immediately.

Tamarind Rasam

Ingredients

1 lime-sized ball of tamarind

3 cups water

Quarter cup chopped coriander leaves

3-4 pepper corns

1 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 flakes garlic

4 red chillies whole

Three-quarter tsp mustard seeds

A pinch of asafoetida

A few curry leaves

Oil for cooking

Salt to taste

Method

Soak tamarind in one cup of water for half-an-hour, and extract juice from the pulp. Keep aside. Combine pepper, cumin seeds, garlic, red chillies, coriander leaves and make a semi-coarse powder in a dry grinder. Now heat oil in a pan. First fry mustard seeds till they pop. Add curry leaves and asafoetida and sauté for a few seconds. Add the tamarind juice, ground masala powder and salt. Stir and add three cups of water. Bring it to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from fire. Serve garnished with coriander leaves.