Oh my Goodness – Rasam! It is comfort food to the Nth degree. Think chicken soup but for vegetarians.  Just as chicken soup makes one feel good when they have a cold so does rasam for us vegetarians.


A South Indian Must Have Comfort Soup

Rasam is a ubiquitous feel good soup and is such an integral part of a traditional South Indian meal that every meal will usually include rasam on the menu.


In our home or for that matter in most South Indian homes, when one is under the weather the first question they get asked is “Shall I make rasam for you?


Rasam is a thin broth-like soup made with lentil water and a blend of warming spices called rasam powder.  Add a dollop of ghee and you have the makings of a feel good mildly spiced soup called rasam. Rasam is typically served like soup or can be had ladled over steaming white rice.


Rasam is made with lentil water, which is the water that is used to cook lentils. Normally when cooking lentils there will be lentil water in the pot after the lentil has been cooked. Rather than discard the lentil water – this water is used to make rasam.


Rasam powder

Rasam is made with a spice blend called rasam powder. Most South Indian homes have a family rasam powder recipe that has been passed down through the generations.

Rasam powder consists of five spices such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilis, curry leaves and dry lentils that are dry roasted to bring out their aroma. Then the spice mixture is ground into spice blend and stored to use later.


These days rasam powder can also be bought at Indian grocery stores.  Once you have a rasam powder (homemade or store bought), it’s a breeze to make rasam.


Many varieties of rasam

There are so many variations of rasam – there is tomato rasam, lemon rasam, ginger rasam, black pepper rasam, garlic rasam, tamarind rasam, and raw mango rasam just to name a few.  Here is a look at rasam at a few dinner gatherings.


Rasam at friends and family gatherings


Lemon Rasam

Tomato Rasam

Tomato rasam my favorite

Tomato rasam is the one that I make for my family when they want a comforting feel-good meal.


Here I have included the recipe for tomato rasam. If you cannot find rasam powder, I’ve also included a recipe for homemade rasam powder. Enjoy!




  • 1/2 -cup toor daal (pigeon peas) cooked in 2 cups water. Cook according to package directions, usually about 20-25 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender. Set aside.  Traditionally only the lentil water is used to make rasam but nowadays I include both the tender lentils and the water to get more nutrients into the humble rasam.
  • 2 cups juicy tomatoes finely cut or cherry tomatoes or 1 15oz can stewed tomatoes in their juices or 1 can tomato sauce.
  • 3 tsp rasam powder
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp Asafetida powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves if you have
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • Oil
  • Ghee


  • In a pot heat 2 tbsp oil . Add mustard seeds and let them pop.
  • Next add cumin seeds and toast in oil for a couple of seconds.
  • Add asafetida, curry leaves and all the fresh or canned tomatoes. Stir into the oil.  Cook the tomatoes for a couple minutes until they are tender and juicy.
  • Add 2 cups water, 3 tsp rasam powder, 1 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp salt. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Next add cooked toor daal (cooked pigeon peas) and the lentil water it is in.  Bring rasam to a boil. After 2 minutes turn the stove off.
  •   Add juice of 1 lemon, fresh chopped cilantro and 1 -2 tbsp ghee.  Taste and adjust for salt and more lemon juice for extra sourness. Alternatively you can also add a tbsp of tomato paste. Rasam is ready!
  • Serve rasam over rice or drink like a soup with ghee on top.

Rasam Away! 😋

Here is a recipe for rasam powder if you want to make it at home.

Rasam Powder


  • 2 cups coriander seeds
  • 1 cup red chilies
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup red gram dal (toor daal, pigeon peas)
  • 4 tbsp yellow split peas
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 small bunch of curry leaves (about 1/2 cup)


  • In a heavy pan dry roast curry leaves and each spice separately until they each give out a strong aroma. The time may vary depending on the spice. Do not roast the turmeric powder.
  • Grind all the roasted spices, dry curry leaves and turmeric in a spice mill into a fine powder.  Rasam powder is ready.
  • Store in an airtight container to use at any time to make rasam.

13 thoughts on “Rasam”

  1. You are absolutely right Kalpana. Rasam is equivalent of chicken soup to vegetarians. And Shall I make Rasam is a common Question in south Indian homes.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. I remember you asked me one time when I was sick “Shall I make rasam for you?” Honestly your words were music to my ears, I was so happy to hear that! That’s what friends are for, to make us feel good when we are are not feeling great. Thanks for that!

  2. Rukku Thatha used to love my Rasam the best .. It is because the way i made the typical Tomato Rasam a little different by adding powdered Fried Black Pepper /Cumin Seeds ( in Ghee) right at the end before sautéing with Mustard Seeds … Mama always like me to add a tiny bit of Jaggery too !!!!! Rasam itself means full of Rasaor taste ….

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