Tamarind Rasam Soup


Jan 09

At an Indian restaurant, we asked the waitress to bring us whatever she liked (her favorites), and she lit up a big smile. Our first course was this soup and we were just amazed at its flavor. It was spicy hot and sour. Finding the recipe online was easy, but finding the best one was another thing. And the instructions were insane because the author wanted us to grind things up in a mortar and pestle when all of it could be bought already ground up. And it really lacked tomatoes. The version we were served was charged with tomatoes.

So what you are getting our version, and yes, you’ll have to get the ingredients online since your local supermarket doesn’t carry them.

Ingredients (organic, if possible)

  • 2  ½ tablespoons concentrated tamarind 
  • ½ pint of plum or cherry tomatoes (or more, to taste) 
  • 2 14.5 Oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) – for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • salt to taste

Rasam Spice Mixture

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped fine  (keep some leaves for garnish)

For Tempering

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (if you can’t find black seeds, get the white/yellow seeds. The difference is the black mustard is stronger and more pungent)
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder (hing)
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves

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The original recipe called for actual tamarind, soaked for 40 minutes, after which you squeeze the juice out into a bowl. That was way too much work, but it does produce a much redder result. The concentrated tamarind is black, so the result is much darker.

In a pretty good sized pan (this makes over a quart) put the tamarind concentrate. In your food processor, chop up your tomatoes (we used the tiny ones because they are much more flavorful than the larger tomatoes) and add that to your pan. Then add the fire roasted, diced tomatoes. Finally, add the the rasam spice mixture.


In a small pan, heat up the oil and fry the mustard seeds till they crackle and pop. Add the cumin seeds and fry till browned. Add the curry leaves and hing (asafoetida powder) and stir it around, then add that to your soup pan.

To thin, add the water, or not if you want it thicker.

Bring that to a boil, stir well and then simmer for five minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

I’ve seen where this soup is served over rice, and, of course, our favorite rice is the black rice (forbidden rice).

Let Your Food Be Your Medicine

Both this recipe and Ayurvedic medicine come from India where much of their food is medicine, or has medicinal properties. This this particular soup is used to soothe colds and flu because of its “warming” ability.

The tamarind has some wonderful healing properties, but it’s Sunday morning and I’m having a day off. To read more about it, go here:

What Is Tamarind? A Tropical Fruit with Health Benefits