Bowl of Tomato Rasam
(click to enlarge)

Tomato Rasam
India, South
  -   Thakkali Rasam
Makes:
Effort:
Time:
DoAhead:  
7 cups  
***
1-3/4 hr  
Yes
To us in the West, Rasams are soups, but soups were unknown in India until the European invasions (they didn't have spoons). In southern India, Rasams are eaten ladled over rice as a second course - still a good way to go, or eat it as a soup. Most of the Prep time is for hand chopping tomatoes - you can use a processor but will get a somewhat different texture.



2-1/4
3
1
1
1
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1
1
1
1/8
2
5
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1/2
1
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2
1
1-1/2
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3
#
T
c

in
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t
t
t
t


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t
t
---
t
c
c
---
T
Ripe Tomatoes (1)  
Toor Dal (2)
Water
Green Chili (3)
Ginger root
-- Tempering
Mustard seeds (4)
Cumin seeds
Pepper, black
Asafoetida (5)
Red Chili, dry (6)
Curry Leaves (7)
-- Powders
Turmeric
Salt
--------------
Ghee (8)
Water
Water (more)
-- Garnish
Cilantro Leaves
PREP   -   (1-1/2 hr - 30 min work)
  1. Chop TOMATOES fine, but nowhere near a purée.
  2. Wash TOOR DAL in several changes of water. Put in a sauce pan with 1 cup Water and bring to a boil uncovered, then cover tightly and simmer slowly for 1-1/2 hours. Stir several times during the last 30 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Chop GREEN CHILIS fine. Slice GINGER very thin and chop fine. Mix.
  4. Mix together all Tempering items.
  5. Mix together all Powders items.
  6. Chop CILANTRO small for Garnish.
RUN   -   (25 min)
  1. In a sauce pan (3 qt is good), heat Ghee quite hot. Stir in Tempering mix. When mustard seeds start to pop (about 20 seconds), stir in Chili mix, followed by Tomatoes and 1 cup Water. Stir in Powders mix, bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in cooked Toor Dal (including liquid) and 1-1/2 cup Water. Bring back to a boil and it is ready.
  3. Serve hot, garnished with Cilantro. Accompany with long grain rice (south Indian or Thai Jasmine).
NOTES:
  1. Tomatoes:   These need to be very good quality fully ripe tomatoes, for both taste and color. Get them from a grower or Farmer's Market if possible. For details see our Tomatoes page.
  2. Toor Dal:   This is peeled and split Pigeon Peas, also called Tuvar Dal and Red Gram (for the flowers). This is available at any market serving an Indian community. Buy the unoiled. For details and cooking method see our Pigeon Peas page.
  3. Green Chili:   The hot green Jwala chilis used in India are not much available even here in Los Angeles, so we use Serranos. Two will make this dish mildly hot by Southern California standards. For details see our Indian Chilis page.
  4. Mustard Seeds:   In India black mustard seeds are always used, but yellow will work.
  5. Asafoetida - Hing:   This is the resin of a giant fennel plant, used in India by sects forbidden to eat onions or garlic, but is also often combined with onions.   Caution: there are two forms: Pure Hing (asafoetida beads or ground) and the more common "Hing Powder". The "powder" is heavily cut with rice flour. The amount given here is for pure asafoetida. Use about 3 times as much if what you have is the "powder" form. For details see our Asafoetida page.
  6. Red Chili:   In India, Dahni chilis would be used, which are essentially the same as our Thai Chilis, but the common Japones could also be used. For details see our Chilis page.
  7. Curry Leaves:   These are essential for the flavors of southern India, but if you don't have them, leave them out - there is no acceptable substitute. For details see our Curry Leaf page.
  8. Ghee:   Ghee is easily available in markets serving an Indian community. Accept only Butter Ghee - Vegetable Ghee is often trans fats. If you can't get (or can't accept) butter ghee, use oil. Avocado Oil would be best but Pure Olive Oil (not virgin) will work fine. For details see our Ghee Page.
  9. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste

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