I adore rasam and when I am in India it is one of the trifecta of dishes that must have most days – rasam, sambar and idli. It is not difficult to make and mostly is very quick. A pan, a spice grinder (or appliance to do the same), your spices, some tamarind and often some tomatoes. Although it is a very traditional dish, I do sometimes feel free to play with the rasam concept. I call it Fusion Cooking, or AusIndian food.
For instance, in this case, I used cherry tomatoes grown organically by a friend, and left them whole in the rasam.
Another recommendation is to make rasam from the top water of cooking lentils or other pulses. Today it was the top water from the cooking of channa dal. It adds additional flavour to the rasam, and of course, does not waste the cooking water of the lentil or bean.
Finally, another twist to the traditional recipe is to roast the garlic and tomatoes in the oven before making the rasam. Divine but very different taste.
Try these other Rasam dishes too:
- Thakkali Paruppu Rasam | Tomato Lentil Rasam
- Lemon or Lime Rasam
- Tomato Rasam
- Goan Style Saar / Rasam
- Cumin Seed and Pepper Rasam
And a note on Rasam Powder if you prefer to make it in advance and use for your daily rasam.
Garlic Rasam, A Recipe from Tamil Nadu, India
Cuisine: Tamil Nadu, South India
Prep time: 4 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins
Serves: 3-4 depending how you use it
a lemon sized lump of tamarind or 1-2 tspns of tamarind concentrate
1 large tomato, or 12 cherry tomatoes
4 or 5 small to medium garlic cloves, or equivalent if your cloves are large
sea salt, to taste
water, or the top water from cooking lentils or beans
1 tspn ghee
1 Tblspn coriander seeds
1 tspn toor dal
1 tspn channa dal
10 small to medium garlic cloves, or equivalent if your cloves are large
1 – 2 dried red chillies
0.5 – 1 tspn black peppercorns
2 arisi thipilli (pippalli / long black pepper) (optional)
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn ghee
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 or 2 stalks curry leaves
If you are using tamarind rather than concentrate, soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Then strain and force as much pulp as possible through the strainer. If using concentrate, mix with a little hot water.
Chop the tomato or halve the cherry tomatoes. Peel the garlic and slice the 10 cloves for the spice paste. Keeping them separate, chop the other 5 cloves very finely, or mince them with a garlic press.
To make the spice paste, melt the ghee in a kadai/kadhi and gently sauté the toor dal, red chillies and coriander seed. When they start to turn golden add the peeled and sliced garlic cloves and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the cumin seeds, the pipalli (if using) and the pepper corns. Saute for another 30 seconds or so, and then grind the sautéed spices mix to a paste. Add some hot water as needed to make the paste.
In the same pan, add the other teaspoon of ghee and pop the black mustard seeds. Then add the cumin seeds and curry leaves and sauté for another 30 seconds.
Add the tamarind, tomatoes, the crushed garlic and salt. Add a little more water as necessary. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spice paste and mix thoroughly. As it comes back to the boil, add water to your desired consistency and taste. Heat to a simmer again.
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Use less or more garlic if you like, although I recommend the larger amounts especially for immunity boosts. Pippalli adds an additional health boost. Coriander seeds too.
Add asafoetida if you like, and also some fenugreek seeds, to the tadka.
Roast a head of garlic and 1 or 2 tomatoes and replace the 10 cloves with the roasted garlic and the tomato with the roasted tomatoes.