Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lemon Rasam

I always talk of my mother-in-law's cooking (who is probably a better cook than my mom!) and neglect my mom on this blog. And that is only because she's hardly cooked over the years. My grandmother was an orthodox woman who ate only what she herself cooked and so, my mom never got to cook 'her' food. There were days when my grandmother fasted and we feasted on either non South Indian cuisine or some 'hatke' South Indian cuisine. Like this Rasam.

Rasam was a staple in my house. Like, am sure, many other South Indian households. However, my grandmother was a Tamilian settled in Karnataka for ages and had adapted the Kannada style of cooking very well. She always made what is popularly known as the Mysore Rasam. It wasn't a delicacy or a specialty in my house. It was regular. So, I initially hated Rasam. Its only lately that I've fallen in love with Rasam and acknowledge its therapeutic properties. When my granny took a break, and my mom cooked, the Rasams she made were Milagu Rasam, Jeera Rasam and Lemon Rasam. Never Mysore Rasam. So, these Rasams were special meals for us :) Now, for A and me, Lemon Rasam is a staple if we cook South Indian food. I love citrusy flavours and A loves traditional South Indian food. So there, this clicked! Every single time that we've entertained with South Indian food, I've made this Rasam and have received only compliments! Frankly, I'm not a great cook. Actually, I never cooked thanks to my grandmother's rules. But with this Rasam, I'm a natural! I called my mom once for the recipe, and since then, this recipe rules, and works out fantastically well every time I make it. Now, enough has been said! Here is the recipe.


1 cup Toor Dal or Pigeon Peas - cooked to a pulp in the pressure cooker or microwave
1 large Lemon
1 Tomato, chopped into chunks
2-3 tbsp ginger chopped, finely. I add more than this, usually ;) (If you don't like ginger, you can remove them later, but DON'T skip the ginger!)
1tbsp Jeera or Cumin
2 tsp turmeric powder
3-5 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ghee
1-2 cups water
A handful of coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste

1. Cook the Dal or the pigeon peas until mushy.

2. Fry the Jeera/cumin seeds in the ghee. Add the chillies, ginger and the cooked Dal and let it bubble away.

3. Add water to thin the Dal out. You can add as much water as you want to make the Rasam as watery as you want. I like it watery!

4. Add the tomatoes, turmeric and salt, and let the mixture simmer until it comes to a boil. Add more turmeric if this doesn't give you a nice bright yellow colour.

5. Turn off the gas, let it rest for a minute or so, squeeze the juice of one full large lemon into the Rasam. Adjust the lemon juice per your desire for tanginess. I like it tangy :)

6. Add the chopped coriander and serve hot with some rice!

My mom was super smart about leftover Lemon Rasam too. She added onions and thickened the leftovers (they hardly need any thickening coz the liquid part is usually the first to be consumed!) to make Dal for Roti the next day. Since Roti-Dal was quite North Indian for us, that was a treat too!

This recipe goes out to MLLA, hosted by Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska and conceptualized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. and to the Lentil Mela hosted by Ashwini.

Back in India, we drink/eat soup only when we dine out. I don't want to generalize this, but even the concept of a 'three course meal' is quite different than what is perceived here in the U.S. For a lot of Indians, a three course meal consists of three entrees and eating one entree with rice or roti comprises one 'course' ;) Of course, yoghurt or curd (that is the more common term used in India again :) could also be considered as an entree. Rasam in many ways is our soup. So, this one goes out to Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, the brain and host of No Croutons Required. Literally, in this case ;) Or, or, or, you can dunk some papad in the Rasam like A does, always and slurp them up. There you go, you can have the croutons and eat it too!

But then, this post really goes out to Amma. My Amma. Like I said, I've always neglected to acknowledge my mom. I've fought with her, still fight like crazy with her and disappoint her all the time. However, there have been very few instances that she's disappointed me, and its hardly been a disappointment as I learn now, years later, sitting away from her. She's changed too. She understands me, my feminism, my activism better now, and I appreciate her for that. It takes courage and a lot of love to do this and Amma, thank you for that.

Now Amma, I wish you'd stop asking me to eat well and exercise well. Just eat well will do ;)

P.S. - We are seriously working on our pictures. With lights, angles, background etc etc! Unfortunately, we chose to showcase Rasam in a steel utensil this time. LOL! So, we'd LOVE direct and honest feedback on our pictures going forward. Hey, suggestions and tips will do too! For some entertainment, see how nimble the man is, standing on a chair taking a pic of the Rasam on top of a chair on top of the table :D


Elyse said...

This rasam sounds fabulous! The pictures are just perfect as well. The vibrant color just screams to be eaten!

Cham said...

I would say, all authen dishes displayed in steel has an extra glamour. Love the first pictu and like the last one little blur too :)
My in laws are Tamilian but settled down in Karnataka too!
The rasam with ging is different, love the whole thali!

Varsha Vipins said...

wow..I just LOVE Rasam..toor dal ones with authentic rasam powder n tamaring..I can just drink it..with lemon,this sounds quite different.yum one A n N..
About the pics,steel ones are really good n loosk authentic..I am worrying that I dont have them..haha..I loved the full platter pic ..slurpp..Also some real sunlight will make pics look lively n next time,try reserving some in fridge,n shooting in sunlight next day.. :)

Anonymous said...

U crack me up with the picture & bring tears to my eyes & heart talking about your mom. I have mine no more... lost her to cancer very unexpectedly few years back. & i miss her very single moment of my life.

that rasam is refreshing..... I like my rasam cold in a cup to drink..can u believe that?

Elle said...

What a great tribut to your mom...maybe she will ease up on the nagging now? :)
The rasam looks like a wonderful is meant to be a soup, right? Love the bright yellow from the tumeric and the bright flavor from the tangy lemon.

amna said...

Your pics are looking so good these days! I love the first and the last one, esp the last one.. so creative to blur and give selective colour, I love that effect on pics, as you can tell from my new header :D

Anonymous said...

awesome recipe.. really love lemon rasam... will try this out for sure :)
as to the picture, i love the 3rd one with the papad dipped in the rasam... and the last one is also good... Like Nags said, the blurring and selective colouring is awesome :)

Daily Meals said...

Lemon rasam looks so nice...Will give it a try...

Archana said...

The last pic is awesome, and real effort to stand on a chair and click a pic of the chair on the table - WOW !!
Rasam looks yum...i love all versions of rasam, melagu rasam is a favourite at home..

NKP said...

I have never made rasam before - but I have made a Middle Eastern lemon/parsley/lentil soup before - and I am sure I would love this!
Lemon is my favourite flavour, so sharp and clean.

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I still don't like rasam, though I make it at least once every week. My daughter loves it so much that she usually drinks a glass after eating it with the rice!!

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe. Wonderful blend of flavours!

Dori said...

I love the fresh smell of lemon, this must smell as great as it tastes!

Vibaas said...

i love this rasam too. looks yummy. the first pic looks good. I stopped using stainless steel bowls to take pics as i didnt know how to avoid the reflection of flash on it and also my camera shows all the scratches in the bowls wery clearly :)

Priya Sriram said...

Honestly the pictures are so colorful and looks yummy A&N! As Varsha said, steel utensil adds authenticity. :)

Anonymous said...

LOl! You so funny in your last para! Yes, the pic is lovely and the effort shows! :)

I like this rasam a lot, and I totally relate to g'mom's taking over kitchen :-)


Bhawna said...

Everytime I tried rasam at my Friend's (from south)place oh gosh!! always hot. Never able to finish my bowl. But definately try this one as there is no readymade masala needed.Thanks for sharing. Mom's are always special and fighting with them shows how much we love them.

Ranjani said...

I HEART your rasam!! it's a phenomenal recipe that's been tried and tested:))btw nice clicks..esp of the man trying to get a close up shot, so arty!

crumpledpapers said...

I love Rasam. But I have only had rasams with heavy doses of tamarind, asafoetida, red chili powder and curry leaves. This is much different from that. But I guess you will get the sourness that you get from tamarind with the large lemon that you've used. That must be have a great tang!! This one that you've made is very reminiscent of what is commonly made in our Maharashtrian households as Ambat Varan which literally means Sour Dal. We usually add some mustard in the tempering and some freshly grated coconut. I love the pictures. They make me fall in love with the food you make! I'd love to be your guest sometime!

Michael @ said...

The Rasam looks amazing! Re the pics: they are good, well composed. The next step is a good quality tripod and some lights. The Lowell EGO lights are a good option, not too expensive... but even worklights from home depot with a bit of diffusion or bounce will make your life easier.

PG said...

I think your pictures look fantastic! And most of all, mouth watring! I love the firt one in the steel bowl. And I love this thali. yum yum yum! Rasams are my favorites, but there is a BIg problem, hubby doesn't like wither lemon or tamarind in the food. I have been going on his nerves (LOL!) with tamarind in food lately. I'm just wondering if you know of some rasam recipe with tomatoes. I think there are recipes with tomatoes as well?
Talking about pictures, i love the first picture of your pasta dish int he previous post. The angle, it looks very yummy withthe grated parmesan!

PG said...

Forgot to mention, loved reading about your mom!

A_and_N said...

@PG: Thanks! I saw your link to floury potatoes also. Thanks so much for thinking of me and sending it across! I do have a recipe for Tomato rasam, I think. I can send it across to you!

@Michael: Thanks! Ya, we are working on them :)

@Crumpledpapers: Come on over, I say!

@Ranjani: There's some waiting for you, always!

@Bhawna: I totally agree :) You can finish this if you love tanginess!

@ Rads: Yay, you are here! Thanks again!

@ Vibaas, Priya Sriram: Thank you, ladies! Ya, I agree about the steel utensil :)

@ Meeso, Natashya: I know! Doesn't it give you a new lease of life?

@ Aparna: I'm like you! This is the only Rasam I used to eat with Rice.

@ Arch, Daily Meals: :) Thanks!

@Indhu: Ya, he thinks he's some sort of celebrity now!

@Nags: I know, I saw :) Thanks to YOU, man!

@ Elle: Hopefully ;)

@ Soma: Cold Rasam! That is a first, I swear!

@ Varsha: Only if something remains for the next day no? :D

@ Cham: I agree :) And thanks, Cham!

@ Elyse: Aww, thanks!

TBC said...

I had only heard of tomato rasam in my pre-blog life. :D
Have you tried pineapple rasam? I tried it from one of the blogs recently. I guess it's not as traditional as some of the other rasams.
Lemon rasam looks good and I think I should give it a shot.:)

A_and_N said...

@TBC: I've seen the pineapple Rasam on your blog! Karnataka weddings are known to make Pineapple Rasam. I'm not sure I love the combo, but I may try it for A (who eats anything;))

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

that rasam looks delicious A and N :) feel like having some! it is a staple at our house too.

Red Chillies said...

I am so used to rasam with tamarind that this is new to me ( even though I am from Karnataka). Kind of gives me the impression that this might taste like "tavve".

REgarding the pictures, even I have issues while taking them in steel vessels, the scratches stand out in the light. So i prefer glass instead.

Beyond Curries said...

Lemon rasam is my all time favorite. I especially love the aroma of the cumine and green chillies frying in the ghee. That's so comforting.

Maria said...

That looks so good!! What a great meal!

Deepa Hari said...

Love this rasam...i enjoy having all kinds of rasam...very comforting...clicks are cool...i like the stainless steel one too.

Savi-Ruchi said...

First time to your blog :)
You have precious & treasured recipes here.
I want to follow your blog, I dont see any option. Can you help me in following your blog?

suvi said...

I married a tamilian who loves his rasams, and I have now started to love rasams... though I enjoy them more as soups.
Love your pictures, the colours, esp the green of the coriender looks very nice in the first pic.

Cakelaw said...

This looks so fragrant and delicious - I could use some now!

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy! Will try it sometime :)

Priyanka Agrawal said...

nice has a story to it..intriguing!

Manju said...

LOL!! making leftover rasam into dal for roti, you mom is a genius!! :) i just loved the last pic!! so mcuh effort we put into taking one pic :)

Unknown said...

Wow just the sight of this rasam brought back memories, been some time since I made this ! Loved the pictures especially the one with the papadums :-)

bee said...

i'd love to make this. lemon rasam is my fav. when you say 'lemon', do you mean lemon as they say in india? the on with the green skin? as in lime as they say in the u.s.? or lemon (the one with the yellow skin) you get in the u.s.?

if you take pics in yellow light at at night, play with the white balance - tungsten or something else on your camera. or use the in-camera flash with a piece o kitchen towel wrapped over it as a diffuser if you have an SLR.

Laavanya said...

There's something abt lemon rasam that captivates me too.. that citrusy flavour always adds a burst - looks awesome and after reading your post, I can't wait to try your version.

A_and_N said...

@Laavanya: Try and let us know how it came out!

@Bee: Answered it as a comment in your latest post, Bee. We used lemons- the yellow skinned ones. And thanks a ton for that tip!

@ Usha, Food Fanatic: Thank you!

@ Superchef: She is, she is!

@ Kusublakki: Heyyy! welcome here :) Do try and tell me how it was!

@ Cakelaw: Appreciated!

@ Aquadaze: You should read Jugalbandi's post on how to satisfy a South Indian man ;) But don't do it!

@ Sushma: sure thing! And thanks for the good words.

@ Deepa, Maria: Danke!

@ Madhuram: I just know what you mean :D

@ Mahima: Thanks so much!

@ Red Chillies: I know :) Just htat steel seemed authentic with this pic.

chef and her kitchen said...

Rice and rasam is a perfect combination for lunch,its my comfort food...i like the last pic.After i started blogging i am not really getting to eat the food hot,as i will be busy taking out the pictures in every different much effort is required for this task..:)

Ingrid_3Bs said...

LOL! That could have been an ugly or at least messy accident. No pets or kids? :-)

I think your photos are pretty good. I've really got to get my butt in gear and TRY a little harder.

Bharti said...

Mm..I think my husband would love this.

Uj said...

Looks yummy and that thali looks so comforting.. I always have a problem with photo's since I cook usually at night and by the time I am done I am left with not much patience to click. Photo's are hubby's dept :D Still we have a long way to go..
Love your pics..

Lakshmi said...

This is what I call comfort food. Lemon rasam and some hot steaming rice ahhhaaaa...

Shimmering said...


This is the first time I am visiting your blog and this is the first recipe I made. The rasam turned out really good. It has nice citrusy summer flavour to it. I too looooooooooooooove ginger, absolutely love lemon and loooooove coriander. So I put a lot of all of them and me an hubby enjoyed it hot with hot rice and sweet potato fry. Yummy good. Thanks for the recipe.

Thinking Cramps said...

Hi, you've got a lovely blog. Was directed here by Saffron Trail. I would like to request your inputs for a newspaper feature I am writing. Could you please mail me on so that we can discuss this further? Thanks.


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