This a very typical rasam made in tambram households, yet at the same time, this is not something we usually make on a daily basis. You can call this a version of the arachavitta sambhar, only this is a rasam. In this recipe, you do not use the rasam powder at all, instead of making the masala paste fresh just before you start cooking.
I know of a friend, when she first got married, had a culture shock of sorts as she had to make the paste for sambhar and rasam on a daily basis as her in-laws did not like to use powders for the two items. So what we used to eat on special occasions, she had to cook daily. Now after years of marriage, she has converted her husband to liking rasams and sambhars made with powders, so things are a lot easier for her now.
I made this over the weekend when I was bored of making the same three-four things over and over. It does take a bit of time to make, but the end result is lip-smackingly delicious. You can also drink this as a spicy soup, especially when the weather is cold or rainy.
- 1 cup toor dal, washed and cooked until done in a pressure cooker or on the stove. The dal has to be mushy and has to be completely disintegrated
- 1 small, lime-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 20-30 minutes and the pulp squeezed and water extracted. Alternatively, use 2-3 tbsps of tamarind paste
- 2 tomatoes, quartered and halved again
- 1 tsp jaggery. You can omit this or substitute brown or white sugar instead
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
- Coriander leaves to garnish
To be ground into a paste
- 4-5 dried red chillies
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp chana dal
- 2 tbsps grated coconut
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4-5 curry leaves
- In a pan, heat the ghee and fry the dried red chillies, peppercorn, coriander seeds and chana dal till they start turning brown. Now add the grated coconut and fry until the coconut loses its moisture and turns brown. You need to keep stirring once you add the coconut, otherwise, the coconut will burn.
- Cool this and when cool, grind this to a smooth paste and keep aside.
- In a large vessel, add the tamarind water, some water to reach the level of sourness you want, the chopped tomatoes, salt and asafoetida powder and let it boil.
- Boil for a while till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away and then add the mashed dal and let it boil for a couple of minutes more.
- Now add the blended masala paste and let it boil well till it comes together. Add the jaggery if you are using it this point.
- The rasam will start frothing and at this point, add around 1/2 cup water and when it starts to boil again, switch off the flame and remove the rasam. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
- In a smaller skillet, heat the ghee and when it is warm, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the cumin seeds and the curry leaves. Pour this over the rasam. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot rice and a vegetable of your choice.