Jan 8, 2015

Mysore Pepper Rasam

The nippy afternoons and cold nights are a great time to warm the innards of body and soul with steaming hot soups. A few days ago, I had two people in the family with a running nose and cough. Just the right time to stir up some peppery, tangy, rasam. Every region has its own signature soup. Rasam is ‘the go-to soup’ of most South Indians when nursing a fever or cold. It features prominently in the menu for convalescents and nursing moms too. Well, even if you do not belong to any of these categories, you can still enjoy a hot mug of this delicious ambrosia.

I learnt this recipe for Mysore Rasam from my sister in law, Geeta. She is as creative in the kitchen as with her poetry. A truly inspiring person. We had this hot rasam at their home paired with steamed rice and a runner beans stir fry. Fond memories of that meal still linger, long after. Special people and some meals have that effect on us, don’t you agree? Well, I just had to recreate this at our home. Here, I have added extra pepper to suit our requirement. Everything else remains the same as Geeta’s rasam. Balmy, soothing, tangy, fragrant, instant comforter of stuffed noses and reliever of misery. Go on, make some for yourself.

Mysore rasam is unique in that it uses dry coconut apart from regular spices. Besides, the spices are always freshly roasted and ground. The effort of roasting fresh spices, grinding them and adding that magical powder to the rasam makes the end result so worth it.

The magic potion that cures all ills!


  • Does NOT contain gluten, soya, lactose, corn, nuts.

Preparation time –10 minutes, Cooking time – 35 minutes, Serves - 4-6

You Need -

Cookware - Pressure cooker of 2 or 3 litre capacity, 1 Sauce pan/stew pot/steel pot of at least 5 litre capacity, 1 smaller steel pot, mixer grinder/coffee grinder, colander, Small ‘tadka’ pan or fry pan.

Ingredients -

FOR POWDER  Ingredients for Rasam Powder

  1. 1 tbsp Coriander seeds (Dhania/Sabut dhania/Malli verai/Kothambri beeja)
  2. 1/2 tbsp Cumin seeds (Jeera, Jeerige, Jeeragam, Jeelakara)
  3. 1 tsp heaped Black Pepper
  4. 1/2 tsp heaped Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana/Menthulu/Menthiam/Menthya)
  5. 1/4 tsp heaped dry coconut (copra) grated
  6. 5-6 Curry leaves
  7. 1/4 tsp ghee (clarified butter) OR 1/4 tsp cooking oil for vegan


  1. 1/4 cup Tuvar dal (split pigeon peas)
  2. 2 tbsp Tamarind paste OR pulp and juice extracted* from 3 tbsp packed tamarind
  3. 2 medium Roma or Vine tomatoes
  4. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1 tsp salt (more if needed)
  6. 1 tsp jaggery/sugar/brown sugar (optional)
  7. a pinch of asafoetida
  8. 2 tbsp chopped coriander


  1. 1 tsp ghee (clarified butter) OR 1 tsp cooking oil for vegan
  2. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  3. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  5. a few curry leaves
  6. a pinch asafoetida


  1. Rinse the tuvar dal, place in a suitable container that fits inside the pressure cooker. Top the dal with double the volume of water, and pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release on its own. If you do not have a pressure cooker, rinse the dal, place in a saucepan with 3 times volume of water. Bring to boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Check if it is cooked. The grains should be mash-able between 2 fingers. Else, top up with more water as needed and cook until done.
  2. * To extract tamarind water, soak 3 tbsp packed tamarind in 1 cup warm water. After 10 minutes, rub the tamarind with fingers to extract juice. Sieve the juice into another container. Repeat once or twice more with half a cup of water each time. Collect this tamarind juice and use in recipe. Discard the pulp and fibre or seeds.
  3. Measure all ingredients for the Powder. Fry with the ghee over a medium to low flame. Keep stirring to avoid burning. Remove to a mixer when they are golden brown in colour and begin to smell fragrant. Powder to a fine texture.
  4. Chop tomatoes. Place all the ingredients (except tuvar dal and chopped coriander) mentioned under ‘Rasam’ in a saucepan, set to boil on stove top. Once it comes to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Mash the cooked tuvar dal well. You could use a potato masher, or electric churner for this. Mix this into the simmering rasam. Add water  to thin down if needed. We are looking for a thin soup consistency.
  6. Add ghee to a small saucepan. Heat with the ingredients for ‘Seasoning’. When mustard splutters, pour over the simmering soup. Add the chopped coriander and remove from stove. Cover and set aside for the seasonings to infuse.
  7. Pour into mugs and enjoy warm/hot with a piece of crusty bread. Or ladle onto steamed rice and eat with a crunchy papad or a crispy stir fried vegetable curry.

Piping hot Mysore Pepper Rasam with crunchy papads


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