This has been handed down to me by my mother in law and one I learnt when I learning to cook. I follow her recipe to the T and it has never let me down. Best eaten with hot rice and a dollop of clarified butter or ghee with a side of roasted potatoes this is what I would call "comfort food" in my home. —Malini Ratnam
Large garlic pods
Chopped cilantro leaves
Whole black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons
tamarind paste, or soak a lime sized ball of tamarind in hot water and squeeze the pulp
Dry red arbol Chile
Ghee or clarified butter
store bought rasam powder (available in most Indian stores).This is optional and you can skip if you don't have this ingredient.
Mix the tamarind paste in about 1 1/2 cups water. If using fresh tamarind, add about 1 1/4 cups water to the tamarind and let it soften to squeeze out about 11/2 cups of tamarind water.
Take 3 garlic pods, 1/4 cup cilantro, black pepper and 1 tsp cumin seeds in a blender, with a tbsp of water and grind to a fine paste.
Now take the tamarind water in a heavy saucepan, add the rasam powder, the remaining cilantro and let the mixture come to a slow boil on a medium flame. This will take about 5-7 minutes, till the raw smell of the tamarind and the rasam powder goes away.
Let the mixture boil for about 5-7 minutes till you no longer smell the raw garlic. Add chopped cilantro, and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
Now temper the soup. Heat about 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter or brown butter) in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds when ghee is hot. After they splutter add the cumin seeds, red chili and curry leaves. Add the chopped garlic. Saute for a minute, and then add the tempering to the rasam. Cover the rasam with a lid until you are ready to serve, This keeps the flavors of the tempering intact and lets them infuse in the rasam.