Fresh aromatic Rasam Powder made with roasted lentils, spices and herbs. Also known as Rasam Podi in Telugu and Tamil, this super fragrant spice powder is easy to make at home and gives incredible results every time you make the South Indian Rasam. This post will show you how to make the best aromatic Rasam Powder at home and how to store it well for 6 to 12 months without losing the freshness & flavor.
Rasam – that invigorating and aromatic lentil-based thin soup-like dish from South India that tickles and excites your taste buds. A warm broth mixed in with rice & ghee is all you need on hot summer days and chilly wintry days alike.
Ever wondered what makes such a simple dish so damn delicious and bursting with flavor notes from tangy to spicy and hot? A not-so secret ingredient – rasam powder.
About Rasam Powder
Rasam Powder is a traditional South Indian spice mix (condiment) made with roasted lentils, whole spices and fresh herbs. It is used to flavor and thicken the South Indian soup-like dish known as Rasam.
Just like garam masala adds flavor to vegetable gravies and stews, Rasam Powder is the key ingredient that adds depth to your steaming pot of Tomato Rasam.
In Telugu & Tamil, Rasam means liquid essence (juice) and Podi means powder. Rasam Podi is nothing but ground powder made with a mix of dry lentils, dried red chilis and certain spices.
Basic or classic rasam powder has six ingredients, namely, toor dal, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, red chilies and hing.
You have Udipi saru powder, Andhra charu powder, and Iyengar rasa podi built from the basic recipe with minor tweaks. Mysore rasam powder has ground mustard seeds, while Kerala style rasam podi requires equal amounts of toor and chana dal. Chettinad style uses twice the amount of toor dal as the classic recipe.
While every family and region have their own version of rasam powder, the basic ingredients remain almost the same. The proportion varies slightly with new ingredients added according to personal taste & preferences.
The commonly add-ons include chana dal, curry leaves (fresh or roasted), methi or fenugreek seeds and turmeric.
While tamarind, tomatoes (when used), cooked lentil, coriander leaves, and a tempering of mustard seeds enhance the broth-like rasam, the dry powder gives it that distinctive taste.
And, unlike sambar powder with its long list of ingredients, this simple spice mix requires 6-8 pantry staples found in most Indian kitchens.
In this post I share my Mom’s decades old Rasam Podi recipe, something that is enjoyed by my family and friends. In addition to showing you how to make this powder, I have included tips to easily customize the recipe to suit your taste buds.
For years I had carried fresh homemade rasam powder from my Mom. I would keep it in the fridge and use for about an year. Since we are a larger family now, I began to make my own rasam powder.
So this rasam powder is something which we have made it time & again, shared with friends & relatives. Always got a positive feedback on how aromatic it is.
While you can use commercial powders when you’re short on time, nothing beats the authentic taste of homemade podis. This applies to most powders and spice mixes used in Indian and other ethnic cuisines.
A quality rasam podi can make your rasam taste like nectar. On the other hand, an average one will have you go meh and wonder what the fuss was all about!
Making your own fresh rasam powder is easy and takes very little time. You measure out the right amount of each ingredient, dry roast them in a specific order, cool well, and finally grind them into a fine powder.
How To Make Rasam Powder (Stepwise photos)
1. Dry roast chana dal and toor dal on a medium heat. Since I made in small quantity I have roasted both the dals together. If making in larger quantity, dry roast them separately.
2. Keep stirring and fry until golden to light brown and aromatic.
3. Pour the coriander seeds and red chilies.
4. Keep stirring and roast until the coriander emits a nice aroma. The red chilies will also turn crisp. Set them aside to a plate.
5. To the same pan, add methi seeds and roast until they turn aromatic.
6. They will turn slightly dark in color.
7. Add jeera and pepper. Very soon jeera turns aromatic. Transfer these as well to a plate.
8. Add the curry leaves and roast. You can also fry them in little oil. I always avoid using oil for any spice powders including for rasam powder.
9. When the leaves turn crisp, remove them.
10. Cool all these completely.
Make Rasam Powder
11. Transfer all the cooled ingredients to a mixer jar.
12. Make a fine rasam podi. If needed sieve it and blend the coarse grains again.
Store rasam powder in a clean and airtight steel or glass jar.
Red chilies: We do not eat very spicy and hot foods. So my rasam powder is not spicy but is high on flavor. So do adjust the red chilies used in the recipe.
With the amount of chilies I have mentioned even young kids & toddlers will be able to enjoy it. Usually the store bought rasam powder uses a lot of red chilies to give it a color and to cut down the cost.
Basic rasam powder is just made with toor dal, pepper, coriander, jeera, red chilies and hing. To make it flavorful and tasty, one can use the following ingredients:
Chana dal lends a unique aroma and slightly thickens the rasam.
Fenugreek seeds or methi seeds add a unique aroma and is also healthy. But you can skip this if using whole methi seeds for the rasam during tempering. I add them in the podi as well in the tempering, after all they are very healthy for the body.
Roasted Curry leaves also add flavour that is different from the fresh curry leaves. This is another healthy ingredient. But this one too can be skipped, if you do not have.
The color of the rasam powder can differ based on the type and amount of red chilies used. To make rasam for kids, do add less or skip red chilies from the recipe. Pepper alone yields a good amount of spice and heat to the rasam.
How to make in large quantity?
I have shared in detail how to make rasam powder just good enough for a month in the recipe card below. Here is how to make rasam powder in larger quantity that lasts for an year.
1. Clean all the ingredients first and roast them one by one on a low to medium flame until aromatic. Do not combine 2 ingredients and roast.
When done in small quantities like I have done below, they can be added one after the other & roasted. But when made in large quantities they have to be roasted separately as the roasting time is different for each ingredient.
2. Cool the ingredients in a large wide plate. Make sure no moisture from steam is trapped in them.
3. Send the entire mixture to a flour mill to make the rasam powder. Do not cover the container until the rasam powder is completely cool.
We usually spread a muslin cloth on the container and bring it home. Cool it completely.
How to store Rasam Powder
For many years I used aluminum foil to pack all the foods I would bring from India. In the recent years I have stopped that as well and began to use washed & sun dried small cloth bags. Pack the foods & then wrap the bag in cling wraps so that the rasam powder does not come out.
I pop these rasam powder packs in the fridge or freezer when I reach Singapore. The key to step to keep rasam powder fresh is by making several small packs of the rasam powder. Open as and when needed.
Normally I would make 6 packs, each would last me for 2 months. Every time I open a new pack I transfer it to a glass jar.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¾ cup Coriander seeds (Daniya or Daniyalu)
- ¼ cup Toor dal (split pigeon peas or kandhi pappu)
- ¼ cup Chana dal (Bengal gram or senaga pappu) (optional)
- 2 tbsp Cumin (Jeera)
- 1 to 2 tsp Pepper corn (adjust to suit your spice levels)
- 4 to 6 red chilies broken (adjust to suit your spice levels)
- ¼ to ½ tbsp. Fenugreek seeds or Methi or menthulu
- ½ tsp. hing
- Handful fresh curry leaves
Preparation for rasam powder
- Wash curry leaves and spread them on a cloth for the water to dry off completely. Otherwise the water splutters while frying them.
- Clean all the ingredients, one after the other.
- Heat a pan, add channa dal and toor dal. Fry till a nice aroma comes. They will also turn golden in color. Transfer this to a plate.
- Lower the flame. To the same pan add coriander seeds and red chilies. Fry till they turn crunchy. Switch off the stove. Transfer them to the plate.
- To the pan add pepper, cumin and methi. Stir for 2 minutes till the cumin and methi smell good. Move this to the plate as well.
- Add the curry leaves to the pan and fry till crisp. Using few drops of oil to fry them, helps to bring out the aroma of the curry leaves. Do not use more.
How to make rasam powder
- Cool the fried ingredients completely. Powder them in a grinder jar. If you do not have a powerful grinder, sieve the rasam powder. Powder the coarse grains again.
- Store the rasam powder in a clean and dry jar.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This post is from the Archives. First published in March 2013. Updated and republished in November 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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