Fiery South Indian Toor Dal Soup (Rasam) - menu

From the Hare Krishna book Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma dasa

South India has many regional varieties of rasam. This one comes from Bangalore. .

The recipe for home-made rasam powder, the main seasoning ingredient in this spicy dal, appears below. Though you can purchase rasam powder at any Asian goods store, home-made is preferable.

COOKING TIME: about 1 hour
YIELD: enough for 4 persons as is, but we usually triple it

1/2 cup (125 ml) toor dal (yellow lentils)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh hot green or red chilli, minced
4 cups (1 litre) water
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (20 ml) chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon (20 ml) rasam powder (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon (20 ml) ghee or butter or oil for Vegan
1 teaspoon (5 ml) mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) yellow asafoetida powder (Garlic is a good substitute)
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) turmeric

1. Boil the toor dal, water, and chopped green chilies in a heavy saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the dal becomes soft.

2. Add the tomato, chopped fresh coriander, and rasam powder. Continue cooking the soup for another 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the salt, sugar, and tamarind concentrate. Continue cooking for another 7-8 minutes.

4. Heat the ghee in a small pan. When it becomes very hot, add the mustard seeds and saute them until they crackle and turn grey. Brown the curry leaves and cumin seeds; then add the asafoetida and turmeric.

Add this hot seasoning mixture to the simmering dal. Allow the flavours to mix and serve hot with plain rice.

Rasam Powder

1 teaspoon (5 ml) oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) mustard seeds
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole coriander seed;
6 whole dried hot red chilies
1 teaspoon (5 ml) black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 ml) fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons (10 ml) cumin seeds

1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over moderate heat.

2. Saute the mustard seeds in the hot oil until they crackle. Add all other ingredients. Stir well, reduce the heat to medium, and roast all the spices until they turn brown - about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the spices from the pan, allow them to cool, and grind them to a powder. This mixture can be stored for some time in a sealed jar.