Depending on which state you’re in, rasam is served during the second or third course of a South Indian meal. At Karavalli, in Bangalore, chef Naren Thimmaiah typically serves a strained version of rasam as a palate cleanser between appetizers and the main course. But you could also leave the rasam unstrained and eat it over a plate of hot, fluffy rice.
- Dry roast the pepper, whole red chiles, garlic, and cumin.
- Once roasted, crush the roasted ingredients in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
- Heat a tablespoon of neutral oil in a pot and add mustard seeds. Throw in the roasted ingredients and sauté for two minutes.
- Add the masala powders. Sauté for another two minutes.
- Add the tomato puree and lentils with about eight cups of water.
- Simmer the rasam for about an hour, but no more.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and curry leaves.
- For a soup, strain the rasam and serve hot, or serve it unstrained with rice.
Nikhita Venugopal is a freelance journalist based in Bengaluru, India.