Tomato rasam is a popular South Indian dish that is known for being equally healthful and delicious. In fact, it’s often served as a spiced hot drink that helps ease cold symptoms and digestion issues.
It is a vegan recipe that features juicy tomatoes, bold spices, and lots of ginger and garlic for an extra pungent, wonderfully tangy flavor.
For The Spice-Herb Mixture
- ▢⅓ cup coriander stems – with or without leaves
- ▢7 to 8 garlic cloves – medium-sized
- ▢1 inch ginger – roughly chopped
- ▢2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- ▢¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
For Tomato Puree
- ▢1.5 to 1.75 cups chopped tomatoes – 275 grams or 3 large-sized tomatoes
For Making Tomato Rasam
- ▢1 tablespoon oil – gingelly oil (sesame oil made from raw sesame seeds) or sunflower oil or peanut oil
- ▢½ teaspoon mustard seeds – black
- ▢½ teaspoon urad dal – husked, split or husked, whole black gram
- ▢1 or 2 dry red chillies – broken and seeds removed
- ▢1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- ▢10 to 12 curry leaves or 1 sprig of curry leaves
- ▢¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ▢salt as needed
- ▢1.5 cups water or add as required
- ▢2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
Making Ground Spice & Herbs Mixture
- Take roughly chopped coriander stems with or without leaves (about a handful of coriander stems) in a blender or mixer jar. Also add garlic cloves and roughly chopped ginger.
- Add cumin seeds and black pepper.
- Grind to a coarse paste. Remove in a separate bowl or plate.
Making Tomato Puree
- In the same jar add the tomatoes (rinsed and chopped).
- Grind or blend to a smooth puree. If you want, you can blanch tomatoes and then puree them – for a bright red color in the rasam.
Making Tomato Rasam
- In a heavy pan or pot, heat the oil. Keep the flame to its lowest.
- Add the mustard seed and let them begin to crackle.
- When the mustard seeds start to crackle, then add urad dal.
- Stirring often fry urad dal until they turn golden.
- Now add the dry red chilies (halved and seeds removed) and 1 pinch asafoetida. In case the pan becomes hot, then switch off the heat.
- Stir and fry for a few seconds till the red chilies change color.
- Add the coarsely ground coriander stems+ginger+garlic mixture and curry leaves. If the pan becomes too hot, then you can switch off the heat.
- Sauté for a minute on lowest flame taking care the mixture does not burn. You will get a nice aroma while sautéing this mixture.
- Add turmeric powder.
- Mix turmeric powder with the rest of the mixture.
- Now add the tomato puree. mix very well. Take care as the mixture splutters.
- Sauté for a minute. Season with salt as per taste.
- Then add 1.5 cups water. If you like a little thin tomato rasam, then you could add some more water. But do not add too much water as the flavors get diluted.
- Mix well and simmer thakkali rasam on medium-low heat until the rasam comes to a simmer.
- Overall simmer for 9 to 10 minutes.
- Finally switch off the heat and add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Check the taste of tomato rasam and add more salt if needed.
- Serve tomato rasam hot, either like a curry over steamed white rice or enjoy as a bowl of hearty soup. Both ways are great with a side of pappadum or a simple toasted bread.
How to make Tomato Rasam
Make Ground Herbs And Spice Mixture
1. To a blender or food processor add ⅓ cup (about a handful) of roughly chopped coriander stems, with or without leaves. Add 7 to 8 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled, and 1 inch of peeled ginger, roughly chopped.
2. Add 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and ¼ teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Feel free to use less or more pepper to taste.
3. Grind to a coarse paste, but do not puree. Transfer the paste to a bowl or plate and set aside.
Making Tomato Puree
4. To the same blender jar add 3 large ripe and red tomatoes, rinsed and chopped. You will need 275 grams tomatoes, or roughly 1.5 to 1.75 cups of chopped tomatoes.
5. Blend the tomatoes to a smooth puree. For a beautiful bright red rasam, you can first blanch the tomatoes and then puree them.
To blanch tomatoes, boil them in a pot of water for one to two minutes before quickly plunging in a bath of ice water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the tomatoes super red and juicy.
Fry The Spices, Herbs
6. In a heavy pan or pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil on low heat. Once the oil is hot add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds.
You can use gingelly oil (made from raw sesame seeds) or sunflower, peanut or any neutral oil.
7. Fry the mustard seeds until they begin to crackle
8. Next add ½ teaspoon of urad dal (lentils). I have used whole urad dal, but you can even use split and husked lentils.
While the dal adds great texture and taste, feel free to leave them out if you don’t like them or don’t have any on hand.
9. Continue to stir often as you fry the urad dal to a golden brown.
10. Add 1 to 2 dry red chilies (halved and seeds removed), and 1 pinch asafoetida (hing). Turn the heat off if the pot gets too hot and nearly smokes.
11. Stir and fry the chilies for few seconds, until they start to lose their red color and become reddish brown.
12. Add the coarsely ground coriander, ginger, cumin, black pepper and garlic paste to the pan. Again, if the pan is so hot that anything begins to burn, promptly turn the heat off and/or remove the pan from the stove.
13. Now add 10 to 12 curry leaves, whole or chopped.
14. Sauté for a minute on low, being careful to not burn the spices.
15. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder.
16. Stir to thoroughly blend the turmeric powder in with the spice mixture.
Making Tomato Rasam
17. Carefully add the tomato puree.
18. Mix well. The tomato rasam will almost immediately smell amazing.
19. Continue to stir and simmer for a minute to heat the mixture through.
20. Season with salt to taste.
21. Next add 1.5 cups of water, and stir. If you want a thinner soup you can add a splash more water. But I don’t recommend adding too much more, or you risk diluting the delicious flavors of the thakkali rasam.
22. Increase the temperature to medium-low heat and bring the soup to a gently boil. Stir again, and reduce the heat back down to low.
23. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.
24. Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Serving Tomato Rasam
Serve tomato rasam or thakkali rasam hot, either like a curry over steamed white rice or enjoy as a bowl of hearty soup. Both ways are great with a side of pappadum or simple toasted bread.
- Tomatoes: Tomato rasam is best made with fresh, red, ripe tomatoes. Any variety of red tomatoes work, provided they are ripe.
- Spices: For a spicy and robust thakkali rasam, increase the amount of whole black peppercorns by adding a total of ½ teaspoon.
- Oil: Traditionally in the Tamil Nadu cuisine, rasam is made with gingelly oil. This gingelly oil is nothing but wood pressed oil extracted from raw sesame seeds. In a pinch you can opt to use sunflower oil, peanut oil or any neutral oil.
- Urad dal: Omit urad dal if you do not have these lentils.
- Asafoetida: For a gluten-free tomato rasam do not add asafoetida or use gluten-free asafoetida.