Rasam is a spicy Indian version of a thin soup which can be drunk on its own or mixed with rice and eaten. The word "ras" in Sanskrit means juice. There are various versions of rasams such as molagu (pepper) rasam, jeera (cumin) rasam, poondu (garlic) rasam, elmachampazham (lemon) rasam .....
The most common rasam which is made on a daily basis in most South Indian homes is tomato rasam. This is made with tamarind extract, tomatoes and tur dal (lentils). The tomato rasam I am going to describe today is a slight variation with pepper and ginger and no tamarind or dal. I find this a very soothing drink whenever I have a cold or cough.
Tomatoes (preferably the indigenous variety called "naati" tomatoes in the South - they are very sour and hence we can avoid adding tamarind) - 250 g
Ginger - 1 inch
Powdered pepper - 1 large pinch
Garlic - 3-4 cloves
Powdered cumin (jeera)- 1 large pinch
Turmeric powder - A dash
Gingelly oil or ghee - 1 teaspoon
Whole cumin (jeera) seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Rasam powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Corriander leaves washed and finely chopped
Dhaniya (Corriander seeds) - 2 measures
Tur dal - 1 measure
Red chillies - 2 measures
Pepper - 1 tbsp
Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1 measure
Dry roast all the above ingredients and powder finely in the dry grinder jar of your mixer.
Boil the tomatoes. Blend them in a mixer and strain the juice. (Try and retain some of the pulp and remove the seeds). Put it on to boil. To this add finely chopped ginger and garlic. Add 1/2 a teaspoonful of rasam powder (this can either be home made or bought. MTR, Nilgiri's, 777 are some of the popular brands of rasam powder available in the shops. The recipe given above is my aunt's and I can vouch it tastes absolutely fantastic. Add water to adjust thickness to individual needs. Add salt and turmeric powder. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the flame.
Heat the oil / ghee separately. (Ghee gives a wonderful aroma and flavour to the rasam, but for those who can't use ghee for health reasons, gingelly oil is a good alternative). Add the cumin seeds to it and wait till brown. Then add the cumin powder and pepper powder to it and mix. Add to the rasam. Garnish with corriander leaves.
Voilà, your tomato rasam is ready. Tastes absolutely divine, doesn't it????? Get prepared to say goodbye to your cough and cold.