Pepper-Cumin Rasam

October  7, 2020
2 Ratings
Photo by Alphonse Roy. Food stylist: Radha Narayanan.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 2-4
Author Notes

This simple rasam uses whole cumin and pepper, both of which are spice staples in most Indian homes. But don’t let the ubiquitousness of the ingredients fool you. Ground into a podi, the spices add warmth and heft to the thin, tamarind-laced rasam. To enjoy its layered flavors, spoon the rasam over hot rice, with a dollop of ghee on top. A crunchy accompaniment would serve as a great textural counterpoint—potato chips are a favorite, as is papadum (or papad).

Excerpted with permission from 'Usha's Rasam Digest' by Usha Prabhakaran. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 lemon-sized ball tamarind paste (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon rasam powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated or powdered jaggery (or brown sugar)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 small tomato
  • 5-7 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas)
  1. Obtain a thin extract of tamarind by soaking and dissolving it in 1 cup (200 ml) of water. Discard any fibrous pulp.
  2. Dry roast the peppercorns, cumin, and asafetida in a dry skillet, stirring and tossing frequently over medium heat, until they begin to smell fragrant. Cool and grind into a fine powder.
  3. Stir the powdered spices, rasam powder, jaggery, and salt into the tamarind extract.
  4. Roughly crush the tomatoes and curry leaves and add them to the tamarind extract. Bring this rasam mixture to the boil.
  5. To this mixture, add 2 cups (400 ml) of water and continue heating until the rasam begins to foam.
  6. Heat the ghee in a small tempering or frying pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the toor dal and fry until the dal turns golden brown and aromatic.
  7. Pour this tempering into the hot rasam and stir through thoroughly.
  8. Sprinkle over a little cold water, cover and set aside.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rebecca Hodgkins
    Rebecca Hodgkins
  • Ahtoy

2 Reviews

Rebecca H. October 20, 2020
I love the article and this sounds amazing! Does anyone have a recipe for rasam powder?
Ahtoy October 18, 2020
Amazingly simple, quick to make, and yet has such deep and complex flavors. I feel like I have been introduced to a whole new world of food. I followed the clear instructions faithfully with a wonderful result. Thank you so much!