Community Healthcare Network

Thuvaram Lentil Rasam Soup

Rasam is a spicy lentil soup eaten with rice. It is thought to help with digestion and to treat colds and flus. It’s a go-to dish when funds are low. It can feed the whole family and can be eaten for several meals a day. The British call it Mulligatawny. The name comes from the Tamil words milagu, and tanni literally meaning “pepper-water.”

History of Rasam: The story goes that the King’s son had taken ill and would barely eat anything, so the King declared a prize for anyone who could come up with a dish that the son would eat. A chef in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, named Karuna is believed to have made Rasam for the son and it healed his illness! This is why Rasam is thought to be a healing dish to this day.


Ingredients you’ll need*:

Rasam Seasoning:

  • 2-3 dry Kashmiri or any dried red chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Rasam Ingredients:

  • 3 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 small diced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils (toor dal)
  • 1 key lime-sized ball of sour tamarind, soaked in water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch of hing or asafetida
  • 4 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • Kosher or rock salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Tempering Spices:

  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 dry red Kashmiri chilies, broken in half width-wise
  • 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter)

*Visit your local Indian or South Asian grocer to find some of these specialty ingredients.

How to make:

  1. Soak dal (lentils) in 2 cups of water for at least 1 hour.
  2. Soak tamarind in warm water for at least 45 minutes
  3. Cook dal (lentils) with the turmeric, hing, and 2.5 cups of water. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Once the dal is done, blend until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a separate pan, dry roast the rasam seasoning ingredients on medium-low heat for no more than 2 minutes.
  5. Once roasted, add the rasam seasoning ingredients to a coffee or spice grinder. Grind them until fine.
  6. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a pan. Fry the cumin seeds for 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Add garlic and tomato. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  8. Use your finger to crush the tamarind in the water it’s been soaking in to get as much tamarind juice out as possible.
  9. Pour tamarind juice through a fine mesh strainer into the pan with the cumin, garlic and tomato.
  10. Add in blended dal, salt, and freshly ground rasam seasoning.
  11. Let it all come to a boil. If needed, add water to get the consistency you want. Rasam should be a thin, watery, but deeply flavorful soup.
  12. In a small sauce pan, heat the ghee on medium heat.
  13. When hot, add in tempering spices. Lower the heat, and swirl the pan until you can smell the toasted spices, about 30 seconds.
  14. Add the ghee and tempering spices into the rasam.
  15. Turn off heat. Garnish with cilantro and freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt if needed.
Thuvaram Lentil Rasam Soup

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