We talk a lot about recipes and their origins and often look for authenticity in regional dishes. What may seem like an authentic dish today might have been different decades or centuries ago and was probably tweaked out of necessity. This Rasam recipe definitely falls outside the authentic recipes realm as Tomatoes are a new introduction to India, they arrived with the Portuguese around the 16th century.
I don’t know much about the correctness of this recipe compared to the origins; it is the only Rasam my Punjabi mother cooked at home growing up and she learned it from another friend. I love it because it is the sweet taste of nostalgia and takes me back to my childhood when getting home cooked sambar rice or rasam rice was a rare treat! This recipe is effortless and full of tangy tomato and tamarind flavours with a generous hit of black pepper. You are sure to have open sinuses after a hot cup of this Rasam!
Ingredients (serves 2)
Ripe Tomatoes: 2, medium sized
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Whole black pepper: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 12-15 leaves
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chilli: 1-2 small
Oil or Ghee: 1tsp (oil for a vegan option)
Garlic cloves: 2-3 medium sized mashed with skin
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1/4 tsp
500 ml water (more if required)
Wash and chop tomatoes into about 8 pieces chunks. Cook tomatoes and tamarind in a pot of 400ml water for about 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and mushy.
In a separate pan, dry roast black pepper and cumin until lightly browned and fragrant, coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
Strain the cooked tomato and tamarind mix to get rid of the skins and seeds of the tomatoes. Add more water through the strainer to get maximum flavour out of the leftover pulp and discard the pulp. Set aside in the pot in which the tomatoes were initially cooked.
To temper – in a pan, add 1tsp ghee or oil, heat and then add mashed garlic pods, whole red chilli, mustard seeds, curry leaves and cook for about a minute on low flame. Add coarsely ground pepper and cumin and cook for another minute.
Add a ladle full of the rasam to this and mix it all back into the pot of Rasam.
Add salt and sugar, cook for another 5-10 minutes on low flame before serving.
– For more rounded, deeper flavours especially garlic, leave the Rasam for at least an hour before serving.
– Enjoy with steamed white rice, khichdi, or as a pre-meal soup.