The Humble Rasam, Elevated

Seasoned Rice Balls served in a Tangy Tamarind Rasam Broth with a Smattering of Stir Fried Carrots and Beans

I love Ottolenghi’s recipes and I recently bought two of his books, Plenty and Flavors. His books are wonderful, filled with vegetarian dishes and uses a variety of vegetables and spices which elevate simple ingredients to flavourful dishes. They are next to my bed side table and I love to read them with their vibrant pictures and different spices. One of the recipes in the book with a full page picture was sticky rice balls with tamarind rasam broth. My first reaction was to laugh but then I thought what a wonderful way to elevate and showcase rasam.

Rasam is a tangy, spicy soup made with tomatoes, tamarind and lentils. Every region in the south of India have their version from the spicy tamil nadu rasam to the slightly sweet Mysore rasam, where some grated coconut and jaggery (brown sugar) is added. This is comfort food and soup for the soul. We eat it with rice and a side of stir fried vegetables and papad or chips. When we have rasam at home, I always drink a hot cup of rasam and this surely clears up any sinus you may have. This is the south indian vegetarian spicy version of the chicken soup.

So, here is my version and inspired by Ottolenghi’s sticky rice with rasam broth.

This has 3 parts to make a complete meal.

Part 1:

Cook rice. (Jasmine, Basmati or Sona Masoori rice – 1 cup rice to 2 cups water). Cool. Heat a tbsp oil or ghee. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 3 chopped garlic and saute till garlic is cooked. Mix with rice and season with salt. Garnish with coriander leaves. Or use this recipe for coconut rice.

Coconut Rice


2 cups basmati or long grained rice

4 cups water

1 cup coconut

Cashew nuts 2 tbsp

½ inch ginger, chopped

2 green chillies

Salt to taste

For tempering

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils

1 tsp Bengal gram lentils

1 pinch asafoetida

1-2 red chillies, halved

A few curry leaves


Cook rice and cool.

Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering. When mustard seeds splutter add green chilies, cashews, ginger and coconut and fry till the grated coconut is reddish brown. Add rice and salt and mix well and serve.

Part 2: Stir fry green beans and carrots.

Beans and Carrot Palya

1 pound beans, chopped fine (or 1 pound French cut frozen beans)

2 carrots, diced small

2-3 tbsp grated coconut

1-2 green chilies

Salt to taste

For tempering:

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils

1 tsp Bengal gram lentils

1 pinch asafetida

1-2 red chillies, halved

A few curry leaves

Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering. When mustard seeds splutter add chopped beans, carrot, salt and stir fry. Cover and let it cook till beans are tender. Add grated coconut and mix well.

Serve hot.

Part 3: Rasam

The main ingredients in the soup other than tomatoes and tamarind is pepper and cumin. I like to put garlic in mine but some people prefer not to add garlic. The first meal I cooked for my in-laws was a simple rasam. I did not know many recipes then and this was an easy one to make. This particular rasam has no lentils and does not need rasam powder.

Boil 1 chopped tomatoes in 3 cups of water. Add tamarind juice (a marble sized tamarind soaked in warm water and extract juice and discard pulp) or 1 tsp tamarind concentrate and let it cook. Add salt. In a pestle and mortar or food processor crush 1 tbsp cumin seeds and 1/2-1 tsp of black pepper corns and 3-4 garlic cloves and 1 red chilli (optional) . In a small pan, heat two teaspoons of oil or ghee, add 1/2 tsp of mustard, a pinch of asafoetida, 4-5 curry leaves. When mustard splutters and the crushed spice mixture and fry for a minute on low flame. Add to the soup and let it come to a rolling boil. Taste and season if required. Serve as a soup or with steamed rice.

Below are links to other recipes of rasam.

Part 4: Assembling them together

Fill a small cup with rice In a shallow bowl, turn the cup of rice in the middle.

Ladle rasam around the rice

Add stir fry and Serve hot with some crisps, chips or papad.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Would love to try this sophiaticated rasam… 😃☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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