Rasam recipe – Simple, easy & quick recipe to make delicious rasam at home. Also known as saaru in Kannada and chaaru in Telugu, rasam is a most basic and essential dish in a South Indian meal. It is commonly served with plain rice and a vegetable side dish. But it can also be served as a soup. This South Indian rasam recipe needs no rasam powder, no dal & can be made in a jiffy with pantry staples. The word Rasam means “juice” in Tamil and Telugu. It can mean any juice.
About the recipe
So what is rasam?
Rasam is a South Indian spiced soup made with tamarind, tomatoes, spices and herbs. Mustard, cumin, fenugreek & black pepper are the key spices used to flavor it.
This humble and comforting soup is said to possess a lot of medicinal values as it is simmered with the spices. It aids digestion and is great to have even during cold & stomach upsets.
So rasam is a staple in many traditional South Indian homes. I make this when I have no pre-made rasam powder & in a hurry to make dinner.
The taste of this comes very close to the one served with a South Indian meal in any restaurant. It tastes slightly tangy, mildly sweet & flavorful from cumin, pepper powder and garlic.
This is so simple that even beginners can make it. This rasam is also suitable to serve babies & toddlers. For babies skip the red chilli and black pepper. Pass the rasam through a strainer before mixing it with mashed rice. For toddlers skip red chili and reduce black pepper.
You can also refrigerate and consume within 2 days. Bring it to a rolling boil before serving.
How to make rasam
1. To a pan, add ¼ teaspoon methi seeds & one dried red chilli. On a low flame, dry roast them until methi turns slightly aromatic. Then add 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera) and ¼ to ½ tsp pepper corn.
Roast all of them until methi seeds turn slightly dark in color and aromatic. If making for baby or toddler skip red chili and use less pepper. Cool them and add to a grinder jar.
2. You can also coarsely crush it in a mortar pestle. Set aside. You can also skip this roasting part & just powder the spices directly but the aroma is great when roasted.
3. Add 1½ tablespoon oil to a hot pot. When the oil turns hot, add half broken red chili, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.
4. Soon they begin to splutter, then add 3 to 4 crushed garlic, 1 sprig curry leaves and then a pinch of hing. Saute well until the leaves turn crisp.
5. Add 1 to 1½ cups chopped or mashed tomatoes or pureed (about 2 to 3 medium tomatoes). Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon turmeric.
6. Cover and cook or saute until the tomatoes turn mushy.
7. Add spice powder or rasam powder from step 1.
8. Mix and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. The spice powder must smell good.
9. Pour 2½ to 3 cups water. Add 1 teaspoon tamarind. Less is fine but don’t a lot.
10. Add jaggery to taste. I use about 1 to 2 tablespoons to balance the flavors. So adjust to your taste.
11. Bring it to a boil & let simmer for 5 minutes. Rasam boiled on a low flame tastes good. Stir well and take little rasam in a tablespoon. Cool it and taste test. Add more salt, tamarind and jaggery if needed.
12. Add ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves with stalks. Cover and turn off the stove.
Serve rasam with rice and some papad, stir fry veggies.
Yes rasam is considered to be one of the healthiest South Indian dishes. Spices like cumin, fenugreek & pepper are said to improve digestion and help in building immunity by detoxifying the body naturally.
It tastes slightly sour, spicy and hot with bursting flavors of spices. A well-made rasam has the right balance or sour, sweet and hot tastes.
Yes use any store bought rasam powder. But the specialty of my rasam recipe is in the spice powder I mentioned in the recipe below. With the spice powder mentioned here it is super flavorful and delicious.
Whole spices are the key to a good rasam. So there are no substitutes.
Basic rasam vs tomato rasam
For a basic recipe, the spice powder is made without lentils and coriander seeds. Roasted cumin, pepper and fenugreek seeds are crushed or powdered and used. But the spice powder used to make tomato rasam has a small amount of lentils & coriander seeds added to it as a thicker.
So both the versions taste completely different & even the consistency is different. Basic rasam is on the thinner side.
How to make garlic rasam?
Pour ½ cup water to a pot and heat it. Add a lemon sized ball of tamarind and let it soften. Then add another 1½ cups water and extract the juice. Discard the pulp.
To the same bowl, add the spice powder we made in the recipe along with 8 well crushed medium garlic cloves. Add jaggery and salt to taste. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the flame to low. Simmer it for 5 minutes. Add coriander leaves and turn off.
Make a tempering in 1 tsp hot ghee by adding ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 red chilli & 1 sprig curry leaves. When the garlic cloves turn slightly golden, add 1/8 tsp hing. Pour this to the garlic rasam.
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2 to 3 medium tomatoes or (1 to 1½ cups) chopped or pureed
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2½ to 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon Tamarind (optional, use as needed) or lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoon jaggery or sugar (or as needed)
- ¼ cup coriander leaves with stems chopped finely
for tempering or seasoning rasam
- 1 ½ tablespoon oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 dried red chili (broken) (less spicy kind)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic crushed (optional)
To roast & powder ( or use 1 tsp cumin powder & ½ tsp pepper powder)
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper corn (black pepper)
- 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 small dried red chili optional (use less spicy kind)
- Add ¼ teaspoon methi seeds and 1 dried red chilli to a small pan and begin to dry roast them on a low to medium heat.
- When the seeds turn light golden, then add 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds & ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper corn. Roast them briefly until the seeds begin to smell good. Turn off the heat.
- Cool & add this to a grinder or spice jar or mortar pestle. Grind them to a fine powder.
- Heat oil or ghee in a pot. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds & red chili.
- When they begin to splutter, add 3 to 4 crushed garlic, 1 sprig curry leaves and a pinch of hing.
- Saute well for a minute till the leaves turn crisp.
How to make rasam
- Add tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Saute until the tomatoes breakdown, become mushy & soft.
- Then add the ground spice powder. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. The spice powder must begin to smell good.
- Next pour water. Add tamarind and jaggery. Bring this to a boil.
- Then simmer for 5 minutes after it comes to a boil. Soon It thickens slightly.
- Stir well and take little rasam in a tablespoon. Cool this and taste test. Add more salt, jaggery or tamarind to adjust the taste. I make it sweet, sour & hot.
- Add chopped coriander leaves. Simmer for a minute. Cover and turn off the stove.
- Serve rasam hot with rice or as a soup.
- Feel free to use more jaggery & tamarind as needed. I usually make rasam that tastes sour, sweet & spicy.
- If you have rasam powder ready then skip roasting and powdering the ingredients mentioned under “To roast and powder. Use rasam powder as desired.
- You can also make this rasam recipe just with 1 tsp cumin powder and half tsp pepper powder.
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
Rasam recipe first published in December 2012. Republished on 12th December 2020.