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Healing South Indian Tomato Rasam

Healing South Indian Tomato Rasam

Tomato rasam is ubiquitous in Southern India.  It is like tea in China, or pasta in Italy.  It is a standard.  This simple, flavorful soup is as delicious as it is nourishing and satisfying.  It pairs well with rice, but can also be served on its own with rice papad.  Either way, it is delicious, light, and healing.

Tomato rasam is such a common food that there are practically an infinite variety of ways to make it. Preparations depend on the family, their region of origin, and — of course — the individual cook.

When I lived in Bangalore before my eldest son was born, I drank many rasams.  Some were amazing.  Others were mediocre.

The Rasam Cure

However, the most memorable rasam I drank was on an Indian Railways express train which ran between Chennai and Bangalore.  Normally, I would avoid the train rasam, as it wasn’t the best.

However, on this particular day, I was suffering with the flu.  So, I grudgingly accepted the rasam on the train and drank the entire cup.

Thanks to the pepper and the tamarind in the rasam I drank on the train, I felt sufficiently better to be able to take a nap.  Within twelve hours, one of the worst flus I’ve ever experienced had completely disappeared.

Obviously, I am not a doctor.  So, I cannot say the rasam cured me.  However, I can say that ever since that experience I have craved rasam each and every time I’ve felt any sort of virus coming on. Moreover, on many occasions, I’ve felt better shortly after drinking a homemade rasam.

Healing Tomato Rasam |
This nutritious and delicious rasam has helped me through many a cold and flu over the years. Moreover, it is warm, hearty, and satisfying.

This Recipe

There are many different varieties of rasam, as I mentioned earlier.  However, rasam usually involves a bit of dal (lentils).  I will share my “standard” recipe, including dal, with you on another day.

Today, I have chosen to prepare rasam without dal, because it the quickest and easiest of rasams to prepare.  I also think it is the recipe that’s easiest to rush through on a busy weeknight when you might be feeling a virus coming on.

As we get closer to the festive season, we all get busier and busier, and this particular rasam is the best medicine for the viruses our fatigue might bring on.  I hope you love it as much as I do, and I hope you drink it in health.  Bon appétit!


Healing South Indian Tomato Rasam
Healing South Indian Tomato Rasam
Rate this recipe
2 ratings
Category: soup
Cuisine: Indian

This light and nourishing broth is sure to be good for whatever ails you. It is very light and filling. So, it's also great for this who are trying to better manage their weight.

    For the Rasam Powder
  • 4 dried red chilis, stemmed
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • a generous pinch of asafoetida
    Other Ingredients
  • 3 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 L water
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 15 g fresh coriander, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
    For the Tadka
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • a generous pinch asafetida

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the spices for the rasam powder to the pan and cook, shaking constantly, for about two minutes, or just until the spices are fragrant and lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn the spices, as they will turn bitter.
  2. Grind the toasted spices into a powder in a coffee or spice grinder. Set the prepared rasam powder aside.
  3. Put the pureed tomatoes, salt, turmeric, sugar and tamarind paste into a medium saucepan, set over low heat. Bring this mixture to the boil and allow it to thicken, until most of the water has evaporated.
  4. Add the rasam powder to the mixture. Allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes longer, or until the spices are fragrant.
  5. Add water and the fresh, diced tomatoes to the saucepan. Bring to the boil.
  6. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the diced tomatoes are just wilted. Taste for salt, and adjust as needed.
  7. Add the fresh coriander to the saucepan. Turn off the heat, and cover.
  8. In the meantime, heat the ghee in a small skillet.
  9. Once the ghee is hot, add the tadka ingredients to it. Cook them until the mustard seeds start to splutter.
  10. Remove from the heat and pour the tadka into the saucepan holding the rasam immediately. Cover the saucepan to trap the aromas, and allow the seasonings to steep in the rasam for approximately five minutes.
  11. Serve over rice, accompanied by rice papad, or on its own.

Prep Time: 10 minutes - Cook Time: 30 minutes Yield: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories per serving: 49.68 kcal
Fat per serving: 3.56 g
Saturated fat per serving: 2.02 g
Carbs per serving: 4.61 g
Protein per serving: 0.82 g
Fiber per serving: 1.19 g
Sugar per serving: 2.82 g
Sodium per serving: 596.31 mg
Trans fat per serving: 0.0 g
Cholesterol per serving: 8.19 mg

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