Tomato Rasam has to be one of the most loved Rasams of South India – it certainly is mine. We have a number of different recipes for Tomato Rasam, as well as variations on Lime Rasam, and today I am bringing you Meenakshi Ammal’s recipe. It is an interesting one, using lime juice as the souring agent instead of tamarind. There is no chilli in this recipe, rather black pepper is used to provide some heat. The top water of cooked lentils is also used for added flavour (and nutrition), akin to using stock in Western soups. It is a good practice, one I adopted years ago – when there is flavoursome water in which lentils have been cooked, make rasam. Or at least use in soups. I surprised a friend once – we were on holidays in Hawaii and had cooked some lentils for a lunch dish. I saved the water and whipped up a tasty rasam with some snacks for our afternoon tea. She adored it.
Back to our recipe today. This particular Tomato Rasam is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes. You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
Tomato Rasam with Lime Juice
2 large tomatoes
1 cup water from cooked dal (the top water that is usually drained away after cooking lentils)
0.25 tspn cumin seeds
0.25 tspn peppercorns
2 tspn ghee or Indian Sesame oil
0.25 tspn brown mustard seeds
0.5 lime, juiced
sea salt, to taste
coriander leaves, for garnish
Grind the cumin seeds and peppercorns to a powder.
Scald the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, remove and peel the skins. Discard the peels. Squash the peeled tomatoes in a saucepan and add 1 cup water, sea salt to taste and powdered peppercorns and cumin seeds. Bring to the boil.
Allow four boilings – bring to the boil, lower heat until it goes off the boil, bring to the boil again, and repeat.
Add the cooked dal water, and bring to a low simmer. Remove from the heat. Add the curry leaves, 5 or 6, in a pile on top of the rasam.
Make a tadka with the mustard seeds by adding them to heated ghee in a small pan, and allowing them to pop. Pour over the curry leaves in the rasam.
Add the lime juice, mix and serve, garnished with curry leaves.