RasamSambar may be an important and inevitable dish of a South Indian meal, but the meal is incomplete without hot and tangy rasam. Although sambar and rasam have many common ingredients, they both taste distinct and unique. It is surprising that a simple dish like rasam can overpower a supreme dish such as sambar. It may look and taste simple but making finger-licking rasam that makes you want to sniff your hand much after you have finished your meal and washed your hands is an art to be perfected. Although I have been cooking for many years, I still feel the rasam I make can never match the taste of my mother’s rasam. Thanks to the variety of rasam powders in the market, making good rasam is easy these days. Perfecting the taste is just a matter of time.

Rasams are of different types – Tomato Rasam, Garlic Rasam, Pepper rasam, Jeera rasam, and the list is long. My recipe is a combination of some of these.

Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
Tomato – 2-3 large ones
Water – 3-4 cups
Tamarind – lemon size

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Rasam powder – 2 tsps
Asafetida powder – 1/2 tsp
Pepper – 1/4 tsp
Jaggery powder/shavings – 1/2 tsp

For tempering
Coriander leaves – a bunch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Garlic (optional) – 6-7 cloves
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut oil/vegetable oil – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 people

Soak toor dal overnight or 6-8 hours and pressure cook it. You may choose to skip the dal. Not adding dal makes the rasam very watery, just like the versions served in weddings. I prefer to add dal because it gives it slight bit of thickness. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of hot water and set aside for 10 mins. In a pot, add 2 cups of water and add chopped tomatoes and turmeric powder. Close and cook for 5-10 mins in medium heat until tomatoes are soft and well cooked. When the tomatoes are cooked well, add salt and tamarind juice. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add the jaggery powder. This helps balance the tanginess of the tamarind without making the rasam sweet. Bring to boil. Mix asafetida powder, pepper powder, chilly powder, and rasam powder in few spoons of water and pour into the cooked tomato. Bring to boil. Do not boil for more than 5 minutes because it can turn rancid and increase acidity in people prone to acidity. Taste and adjust salt, chilly powder/pepper powder if necessary.

In a small kadai, heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add crushed garlic and saute. Garlic can be avoided if you do not prefer that flavor. When the garlic turns brown, switch off the fire and add curry leaves. Add this to the rasam. Add finely chopped coriander leaves.

If you do not have rasam powder at home, while tempering, after the mustard seeds crackle, you can add a tbsp of coriander powder, chilly powder, crushed jeera, and asafetida. This works as a good substitute for rasam powder.

Serve with rice or separately as a soup. I prefer to have rasam with a dollop of ghee mixed in my rice. This makes the rice extremely tasty and cools down your body and heals your throat and stomach. If you are down with a cold, you can spike the pepper in your rasam and drink it as a soup. This helps clear up the throat. My favorite combination is rice, ghee, rasam, and potato poriyal. Yummy!


  1. Hi Manju

    Rasam is one of the quick recipes to make…but 6-8 hours of dal soaking, 2 hours of tamarind soaking…might dissuade someone from trying this out…


    • Dinakaran, the soaking can be done at night before you go to bed. If you are lazy to soak for so many hours, you can pressure cook it without soaking also. Some dals are stubborn and may not get completely mashed without the soaking time. This depends on various factors. Hence I have recommended soaking. Also, it is OK to not add dal. I prefer adding it because it adds some thickness to the rasam.
      Tamarind need not be soaked for two hours. It is only for 10 mins. And that can be done while you cook the tomato. So, now you dont have any excuse, ok? You must try it. And do let me know how it turned out. 🙂


  2. Hi sis, ingredients are similar to the rasam i make, but there is a slight difference in the method of prep.
    Let me share my way of making rasam.

    In a pot put the tamarind water, turmeric, curry leaves, 2 tomatoes, asafeotida, chilly powder, brahmin’s rasam powder and boil it till the water content gets fully evaporated. The masala mix should actually get dried up, then add 4-5 cups of water (hot water preferred) and required salt and let the rasam come to boil. Once it boils, turn off the gas, add a lil jaggery, adjust salt to your taste, and sprinkle a small amount of pepper powder & jeera powder and keep it closed for some time for the aroma to get captured. Then do the tempering with mustard, dried red chilies, curry leaves, (garlic not added in this rasam). Garnish with corriander leaves.

    Try this method, it very tasty….i’m sure u r gonna love this….


  3. Hi Manju, just wanted to add something from what is our routine. Toor dal of even decent quality cooks fast on a pressure cooker so not necessary to soak them overnight. Second, since rasam power itself is made of red chillies and pepper, may not be necessary to add them separately. May because we make the powder at home, feel comfortable just adding a spoon and half of it. Finally for us the golden rule is the tempering for rasam is always in ghee, mustard, jeera and hing.


    • Vaiji, thanks so much for your inputs. Somehow I have always only come across stubborn toor dals 😦 Is there a way to check their quality while buying?
      I normally buy rasam powder and I had to add chilly powder and pepper in spite of adding rasam powder. Quantity might vary depending on personal taste.
      I hear that tempering in ghee is THE golden rule for Brahmins 🙂


  4. Manju, I actually pressure cook the toor dal just before making the rasam – so no soaking at all. it works just fine. It is one of the very few foods that I can tolerate tamarind in; i hate sour foods!


  5. I read all the comments. Most of the comments are genuine.
    In fact when you make Rasam, we should have made a dish called Molaagoottal which is without
    tamrind, dal, mixed vegetables, plus a mixture of fresh coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds.
    Rasam is a good combination for this dish which is used like main course.

    In this case Rasam is made with tuvar dal water, which you can prepare just by adding water to the
    cooked dal, and stir well and make it settle. Pour out the top layer of the water in a separate pot
    with a slight thickness. You have to make your own Rasam powder: dont use market powder.
    Rasam powder is made of Chena Dal, Tur Dal, little corriander seed,red chillies as required, asphortedia, pepper and jeera, all fried dry no oil, and powdered.
    Do not boil the tomatoes too much. Tamrind with water, termeric and salt to boil for 5 minutes till the kacha smell goes off. Add tomatoes cook for say 1 minute then add the dal water, add rasam powder, little jaggery, Add corriander leaves and hing powder if not used in Rasam powder, mix well and let is
    come to foam stage. Do not boil. At this stage when it foams…close the burner. Garnish with ghee as suggested by our friends. At the end you can put a powder of Pepper and Jeera fried and close the pot.
    Try this method it gives a wonderful aroma.


    • Thank you, Mr. Venkat, for your comment and suggestions. It is very valuable to me. I will definitely try this out.
      I thank you for stopping by and for writing your recipe in detail. Truly appreciate it.


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