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Rasam is a typical clear South Indian soup which uses tamarind as a base. The flavours of the soup are from the various spices such as cumin, chilli powder and turmeric. As a vegetarian and vegan soup, rasam is extremely appetizing and flavourful.

Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 20 mins


South Indian Sour Soup, Chaaru, Saaru, Kabir

Malaysian, Singaporean, Indian


1 shallot(s)
3 garlic clove(s)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 curry leaves stalk(s)
3 chilli peppers (dried)
1 tbsp oil
1⁄4 tsp turmeric powder
2 1⁄2 tsp cumin powder
1⁄2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tomato(es)
1 tbsp tamarind paste
500 ml water

Nutrition per Serving

86 kcal
12 g
4 g
2 g

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Rasam which has a 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 flavourful without using artificial flavouring . Not much effort in preparation is needed either. It is also possible to prepare rasam 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 not only sour, it does not have the mild bitterness of that of the lime juice. That is like having the best of both worlds! 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.

3 Ingredients You Can Add to Make Rasam as a One Pot Meal

While rasam may be just a side dish in a banana leaf rice meal, it can be turned into a wholesome meal as it is to be enjoyed. Here are some ideas and ingredients you may add to rasam to make it a more fulfilling dish.

1. Legumes

Peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans are fantastic choices of ingredients to be added to rasam. Some of these ingredients such as lentils which are also sold in dried version can be found. Just 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 for them to soften. Not only do legumes have a great nutritional profile, they are also very filling.

2. Vegetables

If you are someone who enjoys vegetables not only as salads, add them to rasam. Vegetables which are a great match for rasam are broccoli, brussels sproust, capsicums, carrots and even beetroot. Adding vegetables to rasam makes it naturally sweet compared to the typical rasam which is sour.

3. Protein

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.

Steps to Prepare

Rasam Step 1

Step 1 of 3

Pound shallots and garlic. In a pot, heat up oil to sauté the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add mustard seeds and continue sautéing until they begin to pop. Then, add dried chillies and curry leaves. Sauté for another 30 seconds.

Rasam Step 2

Step 2 of 3

    • 1⁄4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 2 1⁄2 tsp cumin powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp fenugreek seeds
    • 2 tsp black pepper powder
    • 1 tomato(es)

Add turmeric, cumin powder, fenugreek seeds and black pepper into the pot. Continue sautéing over low heat. Once the ingredients are fragrant, add chopped or pounded tomato.

Rasam Step 3

Step 3 of 3

    • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
    • 500 ml water
    • salt
    • coriander

Pour water into the pot and then add tamarind. Increase heat to allow rasam to boil. Once it boils, let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes have softened. Add salt to taste. Garnish with coriander before serving.

Published: May 6, 2018

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