Rasam is a soup dish especially prepared in South Indian cuisine. It is usually very tangy in taste and quite fluid kind of soup. The sourness if the specialty of the dish that is added with the help of the various ingredients included in a specified proportion. Rasam recipe is popular all over the South India with various regional ingredients. The basic recipe as well as variations is also quite popular all over the world where South Indian population is existing. Though Rasam is a south Indian soup, it is mainly popular in Tamil Nadu, whereas in other places it is prepared with different names such as ‘saaru and ‘chaaru’. Tomato rasam, lemon as well as parupu rasam are some of the popular recipes around the world.
Rasam is referred to any kind of juice in Tamil language, but the main recipe is based on tomato or tamarind juice. In historical times, this special dish was prepared with black pepper and tamarind due to the abundant supply of both these ingredients in South India. The main south Indian caste ‘Iyengars’ used to refer to the dish as ‘chattamudu’. The old South Indian communities living in the different parts of India still refer to rasam as ‘pulichaar’, that means tart. The popular ‘mulligatawny soup’ is based on rasam that is popular as an Anglo-Indian version of this south Indian soup.
Traditionally, tamarind is the main ingredient included in the rasam. Basically, this is a tangy dish, hence, lemon, ginger and tomato juice are the other main ingredients used to make various variations of this popular soup. Lentils are also added to enhance the look and the taste of the dish. Among the spices, black pepper, salt, and cumin are the vital components. Either homemade or packaged rasam powder is included to add color and zest to the dish. This powder mainly includes coriander seeds, turmeric, dries curry leaves and asafetida. Coconut milk, buttermilk, vegetables, green gram, peas and even jaggery are incorporated to make distinctive rasam recipe.
Rasam is essentially prepared by boiling method. All the ingredients including tamarind, tomato puree, lentils and spices are boiled together to make a very thin soup. The rasam powder can be prepared with dried spices and stored in an air-tight jar for anytime use. The tomatoes can either be used in puree form or in chopped pieces. The ginger is also added in chopped form along with tamarind. The pineapple rasam is prepared with small pieces of fresh tamarind. While making rasam with toor dal, the dal should be soaked in water along with spices and coconut. The ingredients are then grinded to a coarse paste before boiling.
Rasam is served as an appetizer in South Indian cuisine. Though it is different from sambar, but it is often served with rice just like sambar. In traditional South Indian meal, rasam follows the sambar course and followed by the meal with curd rice.
Rasam is a quite healthy dish. The ingredients included in the dish are beneficial due to the presence of vitamins and minerals. Lentils are rich in proteins where lemon and tomatoes are rich in calcium and vitamin C. Tamarind is a good laxative and also helpful in lowering the cholesterol.