Rasam which has distinct sourness and spiciness is a side dish which is easily prepared to accompany plain white rice. The combination of spices and ingredients in rasam is enough to make the soup tasty without using artificial flavouring. Not much effort in preparation is needed either. It is also possible to prepare it without using rasam powder which is a ready-made spice mixture.
As someone who loves Indian dishes, rasam is easily one of my top favourites. One may think that a vegetable based dish is bland and boring. This is where you are wrong. The first time I tasted rasam served together with banana leaf rice, I was immediately hooked. It definitely reminded me of the well known Thai soup 'tom yum' which is sour due to the added lime juice. Tamarind on the other hand is sour although it does not have the mild bitterness of the lime juice. However, besides being sour in similarity, rasam and 'tom yum' are both entirely different.
What is rasam made of?
The core ingredient of rasam is tamarind which gives the distinctive sour taste that is significant to the dish. Other spices such as cumin, chilli powder and turmeric are added to further enhance its flavour.
Turn rasam into a one pot meal
While rasam may be just one of the side dishes in banana leaf rice, it can be turned into a wholesome meal. Here are some ideas and ingredients you may add to rasam to make it a more fulfilling dish.
Peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans are fantastic choices of ingredients to be added to rasam. Some of these ingredients such as lentils are also sold in dried version. As recommended in the dhal recipe, soak the dried legumes before adding them to rasam and then boil for at least 30 minutes or more until they softened. Not only do legumes have a great nutritional profile, they are also very filling.
If you are someone who enjoys vegetables not only as salads, add them to rasam. Vegetables which are a great match are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, capsicums, carrots and even beetroot. Adding vegetables make it naturally sweet compared to the typical rasam which is sour.
Another variation of rasam calls for protein to be added. Therefore, you may add some chicken, mutton or even fish. Besides that, chicken or mutton bones may be used to be simmered in rasam for a few hours. This will result in a more flavourful broth.