Rasam is one of those amazing dishes, and I am unashamed to admit that I can have a large serving of rasam with a small salad for a light dinner. Last night I had a couple of bowls of rasam plus a perfectly ripe avocado, eaten in its skin, sprinkled only with some sea salt.
One can only imagine how rasam came into being. Someone scooping some of the cooking water off of lentils and throwing some spices in because they were hungry, or perhaps because they did not have anything else to eat. It is akin to someone in Europe taking a cup of stock from a simmering pot of vegetables, adding some spices and using it as a wonderful aperitif.
No matter how it began, or how its popularity spread, it is now a ubiquitous dish in South India with as many varieties as there are people in that part of India. It is eaten daily in many households.
That is not the case here, but I often get a real longing for a cup or bowl of this tangy broth that stimulates the appetite and can be drunk from a bowl or cup, or poured over rice. Such a longing came over me today, and I revisited this wonderful Thakkali Paruppu Rasam – Rasam made with tomatoes and lentils.
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This recipe uses toor dal (red gram or pigeon peas), though no doubt you could use other lentils. As toor dal is the lentil used in sambar, you could cook a little extra, just 1/4 more, and use to make the rasam as well.
One change I made to the recipe – rather than cooking the tamarind, tomato and spice powder in a separate pot, for convenience, they were added to the toor dal once it was cooked and mushy.
It makes about 3 cups. Did I tell you I ate almost all of it for dinner on a Saturday night watching day/night cricket? Such was my longing for rasam flavours.
Please make it and enjoy! Thakkali Paruppu Rasam