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Rasam: Spicy, Soulful Soup

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Rasam: Spicy, Soulful Soup

Neeru Ravi

rasam, spicy, soup, onelifetwoways, south indian, vegan

Chilly English winters cry out for Rasam. The hot, spicy and soulful soup of South India, and one of our most iconic dishes. 

Picture a South Indian version of the miso soup: a clear, wholesome and nourishing broth. Something you can drink by the cupful to warm you up, soothe a sore throat, or make you feel cosy and happy from the inside out. Like miso soup, which can be poured over vegetables, tofu and other toppings, Rasam is also commonly enjoyed with rice, vegetables, dumplings and savoury South Indian doughnuts. 

Rasam, like miso soup, is also one of those anytime, anywhere soups. Fill up a flaskful for a mid-morning warmer, start you lunch with a mug of Rasam, or snuggle up on the sofa in front of the telly with a hot tumbler-full. 

In fact, it's such a staple South Indian dish that many die-hard South Indians don't feel a meal is complete unless it includes Rasam. Need we say more? We love the stuff.

The beauty of Rasam is its simplicity.  Nothing fancy or artificial.  Just pure goodness and flavour.

Rasam is finished off with a tempering mixture - a few drops of hot fat and toasted mustard seeds. Heating the mustard seeds in fat makes them pop, releases all their flavour and elevates the taste to another level. 

In our family we have three favourite types: Tomato, Lime and Jeera. Each has it’s own loyal following: our grandma is partial to the Tomato Rasam, our mum is a die-hard Lime Rasam believer and we are staunch Jeera Rasam fans. Try them all and see which is your favourite! 

Growing up, any time we had a cold or the flu, our mum would tuck us up in bed with a bowl of our her piping hot Jeera Rasam. For us, there's no better comfort food. 

Here's our recipe for Lime Rasam, Try it out and keep a look out for the other varieties coming soon.

Love,

N & N

Time: 35 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • I cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 3 + 6 cups water
  • Juice of one lime
  • 8 cherry tomatoes/ one big tomato
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ inch ginger
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 6/7 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh coriander 
  • 1 tsp madras curry powder (see note above)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the toor dal in 3 cups of water overnight.
  2. The next day, cook the dal in a saucepan with the turmeric and cover with a lid, monitoring it closely to make sure it doesn’t catch. It should be soft and begin to break down after approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile in another pan, add 6 cups water, asafoetida, curry leaves, curry powder, salt, chopped chilli, crushed ginger and halved cherry tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  4. Let the mixture bubble and reduce down by 1/3 on a low heat while the lentils are cooking.
  5. After the lentils are cooked, mash them well with the back of a spoon and add to the tomato, spice, water mixture.
  6. Bring it to the boil and then turn it off. Squeeze in the lime, and add the chopped coriander.
  7. To make the tempering mixture, heat the coconut oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, pour the mixture into the Rasam and listen to the sizzle!

Sip a piping hot tumblerfull of this soup to ward away those winter blues.

Spice Advice: Madras Curry Powder

Traditionally we use 'Rasam Powder' to make Rasam, a very traditional blend of coriander, dried chillies, different pulses, pepper, turmeric and cumin. We'll be sharing a recipe for it soon, but in the meantime, you can use Madras Curry Powder which is an all-purpose spice mix, used for curries, soups etc. You'll easily find it in any good supermarket.