In the end, rasam is just flavoured water. But as Indian food is the most refined cuisine in terms of the layering of flavours to achieve complexity and exquisite balance, flavoured water is amazing! Hot, spicy, tangy, salty, herbaceous, it hits the palate like a flavour bomb, and stimulates all aspects of digestion. I am a lover of Rasam, and am generally found having multiple servings.
Mysore Rasam is similar to Kottu (Plain) Rasam, in that it includes toor dal to give the rasam a beautiful silky texture. It also uses the water from cooking the dal to round out the flavours. It is rather like Plain Dal Rasam with different spices. And in this recipe, rasam powder is not used, rather the spices are sauteed and ground while the toor dal cooks.
In order to cook the toor dal while I potter around the house and garden doing other things, I have a little trick that I will share with you. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so first thing in the morning I rinse the dal and pop it into a saucepan with ample water. Then it is placed on the stovetop on the lowest heat available. Covered, I know that the dal will be perfectly cooked in 1 hour without me thinking about it. I do check the water level about half way through, but other than that, I can get on with the day without having to watch the pot. Perfectly cooked dal will be ready to make rasam for lunch. Or pop it on when you first get home from work or picking the kids up from school, and it will be easy to make rasam for dinner.
You might also be interested in reading about the difference between Rasam and Sambar.
There is another version of Mysore Rasam here.
Mysore Rasam | First Method
Source : adapted from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See Part 1
Prep time: 5 mins + 30 – 40 mins to cook the dal
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
0.5 cup toor dal
tamarind – a lime sized piece, or use tamarind paste
1.5 tspn salt
a pinch asafoetida
few curry leaves
a few green coriander leaves
1.5 Tblspn coriander seeds
2 tspns Bengal gram dal (channa dal)
8 Indian dried red chillies (or to taste)
5 – 6 black pepper corns
2 tspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
1 tspn ghee with 1 tspn Indian sesame oil
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 – 2 Indian dried red chillies, broken in half
1 stalk curry leaves (8 – 10 leaves)
Cook the toor dal in plenty of water until very soft. Decant the top water and keep it aside. Amma calls this water Boiled Dal Essence.
To make the spice paste, saute the coriander seeds, channa dal and dried red chillies in 2 tspn ghee. Grind these with the peppercorns. Add a little water to help make a paste, if necessary.
Make 2 cups of tamarind water and place in a saucepan. To this, add salt, asafoetida and curry leaves. Cover the saucepan and bring to the boil.
Add the cooked dal to the rasam and boil well.
Add the Boiled Dal Essence to the rasam, and make the quantity of rasam up to 4 cups. When it comes to the boil again and froths up, remove from the heat. Stir in the ground spice paste made earlier, and mix well.
Make a tadka of the mustard seeds, chillies and curry leaves in the ghee and oil mix, and add to the rasam. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Tomatoes can be added to the tamarind water. If tomatoes are used, the amount of tamarind can be reduced accordingly. Puree the tomatoes before adding for a smooth rasam. Once the tomatoes have been added, simmer for 10 mins to cook them, before adding the dal.