In this pepper-cumin rasam recipe, the heat of pepper is balanced by the tanginess of tomato and sweetness of jaggery for a perfect-for-cool-weather broth.


1 lemon-sized ball tamarind paste (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pinch asafetida
1/2 teaspoon rasam powder
1/2 teaspoon grated or powdered jaggery (or brown sugar)
salt to taste
1 small tomato
5-7 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas)


Step 1
Obtain a thin extract of tamarind by soaking and dissolving it in 1 cup (200 ml) of water. Discard any fibrous pulp.\r\n

Step 2
Dry roast the peppercorns, cumin, and asafetida in a dry skillet, stirring and tossing frequently over medium heat, until they begin to smell fragrant. Cool and grind into a fine powder. \r\n

Step 3
Stir the powdered spices, rasam powder, jaggery, and salt into the tamarind extract.

Step 4
Roughly crush the tomatoes and curry leaves and add them to the tamarind extract. Bring this rasam mixture to the boil.

Step 5
To this mixture, add 2 cups (400 ml) of water and continue heating until the rasam begins to foam.

Step 6
Heat the ghee in a small tempering or frying pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the toor dal and fry until the dal turns golden brown and aromatic. \r\n

Step 7
Pour this tempering into the hot rasam and stir through thoroughly.\r\n

Step 8
Sprinkle over a little cold water, cover and set aside. \r\n