While working on her new cookbook, “Usha’s Rasam Digest,” the author Usha Prabakaran gathered over 1,000 recipes for rasam, a thin, tangy broth from southern India with many names and infinite variations. This one comes together in minutes, from a base of gently sautéed garlic and a peppery spice mixture that is ground to make rasam powder. Ms. Prabakara suggests the soup for anyone feeling unwell. Don’t let the garlic color, or it’ll add a note of bitterness to the rasam.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 1teaspoon toor dal
- ½teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ¼teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- ¼teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1tablespoon ghee
- 10garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1heaping tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1cup warm water
- ¼teaspoon ground turmeric
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1teaspoon ghee
- 2dried red chiles, such as chiles de árbol
- ½teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 3to 5 fresh curry leaves (optional)
Step 1Prepare the rasam base: Using a coffee or spice grinder, pulverize the dal, peppercorns, cumin and coriander, and set aside.
Step 2Heat the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Add the garlic, and gently fry until soft and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Step 3In a bowl, whisk the tamarind paste to dissolve with 1 cup warm water, and pour through a strainer into the cooked garlic. Add the reserved spice mixture and 3 more cups water, and bring to a boil over medium. Add turmeric and salt, and simmer until the rasam foams, then turn off the heat. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.
Step 4Prepare the tempering: In a small pan, heat 1 teaspoon ghee over medium, and fry the chiles, mustard seeds and curry leaves (if using). When the mustard seeds pop, in about 30 seconds, scrape the entire seasoning mixture into the hot rasam, and stir well. Enjoy plain, or with rice.