Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mysore Rasam – South Indian Soup with Spices and Coconut

It’s been quite a long time. Spring has been evasive, cheating on us. Winter has been sneaking in. Things have been hectic. I haven’t blogged in a while! I went through a phase of I-hate-the-kitchen-and-won’t-cook-a-thing, just like a writer’s block if you should say in simpler terms. After a somewhat long hiatus, I made a Sambar-Rasam-Curry dinner for the two of us yesterday! We had Capsicum Sambar, Mysore Rasam, and Potato Curry – not to mention the omnipresent Thayir Sadam with MorMolagai – a proper full course meal after ages.

The Mysore Rasam has not been a regular feature at home, and I decided to give it a try for the first time. It tastes fresher than the normal rasams owing to the fact that the powder is freshly ground and added towards the end. This way, the flavours last longer. The shelf life of this rasam is however shorter than usual due to the coconut. Some people just knock off the coconut and cook a varied version. Honestly, the coconut just adds consistency to the powder and floats atop the rasam, it makes no compromise to the wonderful taste that this rasam imparts.

Here’s what I needed:
1. Dry red chili – 3, or less if you can’t take too much spice

2. Dhaniya seeds – 1 teaspoon

3. Chana dal – 1 teaspoon

4. Cumin seeds – 1 ½ teaspoon

5. Coconut – 1 tablespoon (optional, but this is what makes this Rasam special)

6. Rasam powder – 1 ½ teaspoon

7. Tamarind – small lime sized ball

8. Toor Dal – ¼ cup, cooked and mashed well, mixed with plenty of water

9. 3 small tomatoes – Campari variety, mashed coarsely

10. Green chili – 2, chopped finely

11. Curry leaves, Mustard seeds, Jeera seeds, Hing, Turmeric, Oil, Coriander leave, Salt

Here’s how I dished it up:
1. Pressure cook the toor dal. Mash well and add plenty of water. Keep aside.

2. In a deep vessel, heat some oil and allow the mustard seeds and jeera to splutter. Add the green chilis and curry leaves and sauté well.

3. Add the mashed tomatoes and cook them till they turn to a soft pulp. Campari tomatoes have a naturally sweetish tangy taste that makes the rasam exceptionally flavourful.

4. Add the tamarind water followed by 2 cups water. Mix in the Rasam Powder and turmeric with salt. Cover and let this mixture cook well till the raw tamarind smell vanishes.

5. Meanwhile, in a small kadai, roast the dhaniya, chana dal, red chili, coconut and finally 1 teaspoon of the jeera in a little bit of oil and grind together with ½ teaspoon of remaining fresh jeera. Set this aside.

6. When the raw smell vanishes from the boiling mixture, add the toor dal mixed in water and bring it to a light boil.

7. Finally, add the hing and ground powder, mix well, top up with chopped coriander leaves and set aside. Serve with rice and pappads, or enjoy it like you would relish a soup.


  1. Looks delicious. In Mysore, we have a Rasam which is made of Garlic, pepper and cumin called Menasina thili saaru. This one sounds great, will try! :)

  2. Thanks Asha. This is a popular feature in Iyengar kitchens, I've noticed. The Menasina thili saaru sounds like the Tamilian Melagu Jeeraga Rasam - Pepper (melagu) Cumin (Jeeragam). We usually add these when we make Poondu (Garlic) rasams, and this is pretty much regular when we're ailing from flu :)