Rasam (Indian Soup with Sour Fruits) with Priya Mani

A class on a delicious soup

Priya Mani is a designer and cultural researcher working to create gastronomical experiences. Currently she is cooking, writing and photographing a Visual Encyclopedia of Indian foods, and you can follow her process on Instagram as @cookalore where she is cooking all the entries from A to Z!

Rasam is a delicate broth, typically based on sour fruits. The most well known Rasam recipe uses tamarind pulp as a base, but you can use tomatoes, lemons, pineapples etc. Priya will show you a basic recipe and explain the technique of making Rasam. There are many regional variations prepared throughout the Indian peninsula. It is flavour-rich and is best eaten with steamed rice.

Watch a recording of our class

Rasam Recipe

Serves 4

**Note: The recipe provides ingredient measurements for both volume and weight. Use either the volume measurement on the left (1/4 cup Toor Dal etc.) or the weight measurement in parentheses (50 gms for Toor Dal etc.)**

Ingredients (by volume AND weight)

  • 1/4 cup Toor Dal (50 gms)

  • 1 tsp Turmeric (2 gms)

  • 2 tbsp Tamarind, pulp (30 gms)

  • 2 Tomatoes, medium (200 gms)

  • 1 liter Water (same weight)

  • 2 tsp Turmeric (6 gms)

  • 1 tsp Salt (6 gms)

Rasam spice blend

  • 5 tsp Coriander seeds (10 gms)

  • 1 tsp Red chillies, dried (a pinch)

  • 1 tsp Toor Dal (2 gms)

  • 1 tsp Black pepper (2 gms)

  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds (2 gms)


  • 1 tbsp Ghee (15 ml)

  • 1 tsp Cumin (2 gms)

  • 1 tsp Mustard (2 gms)

  • A pinch Asafoetida (same weight)


  1. Cook the toor dal with 250 ml water and 1 tsp turmeric to a soft pulp, puree. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile boil the tamarind in 200 ml water for 10 min in a covered saucepan. Let this cool to touch.

  3. Mash the tamarind pulp in the water until you have squeezed out the pulp thoroughly.

  4. Strain the tamarind water into a large enough saucepan in which you will proceed to make the rasam.

  5. Now add the salt, tomato pieces, curry leaves and rasam powder and pureed lentils to the tamarind water. Add 600 ml water and and let it boil on medium heat.

  6. In about 10 minutes, you will notice a froth rising to the surface of the rasam. If you have added enough turmeric, this will be visibly yellow. This is a sign that the rasam is almost done. It must smell aromatic.

  7. At this point turn off the heat, pour in the asafoetida and cover the rasam with a lid.

  8. In a small skillet, heat some ghee over medium to high heat. Add the cumin seeds and wait till they are golden brown. This will take a few seconds. Now add the mustard to splutter and a pinch of asafoetida and quickly transfer this to your rasam.

  9. Steep the chopped coriander leaves.

  10. Keep the rasam covered until serving.

Cooking Tips:

  • Ideally, soak the lentils for a few hours before cooking. It improves taste and digestability.

  • Choose tamarind where the pulp has not been processed, typically sold in blocks in Asian stores.

  • The asafoetida must dissolve in water.

  • You can use a pressure cooker to cook the lentils. - You can use a stick blender to puree the lentils.

  • To make ahead: Rasam can be made ahead and kept in the refridgerator. Rasam is best served warm, so reheat it and do the tempering just before serving.