A spicy tomato broth
From Savi: There is not a single person I have met that does not like Rasam. It's spicy, tangy and is as warm as my grandmother's handmade quilt. Rasam in south India is equivalent to comforting tomato soup here in the US. It's what I whip up when my kids are sick, if I am recovering from a cold or I am craving my mom's cooking. Let me get to the recipe! I follow two kinds of recipes when making Rasam. The first one is a little complicated and needs a special spice blend called rasam powder. I make my own by roasting seeds and spices and grinding it up in a spice grinder (available in most indian markets - I like the brand MTR). The second recipe is pretty simple and can be prepared in under 10 minutes (yes, it's that easy!) and with very few ingredients.
14 oz. can of crushed or diced tomatoes
6 C. of water (or more if you like the soup brothy)
1 TBS. ghee or any oil
5 cloves of garlic
1 TBS. cumin seeds
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1/2 TBS. black pepper corns
1 tsp. chilli powder (skip it if you do not like it spicy)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 TBS. brown sugar or molases
1 small bunch fresh cilantro/coriander. cut the top leafy parts from the stem parts. Save the stems and finely chop the leafy part of cilantro.
Salt to taste (It will need quite a bit as the broth needs a lot of seasoning .
2 deseeded whole red chillies (optional - gives the broth a smoky taste)
Squeeze of fresh lime juice, optional
Take a medium stock pot and empty the tomatoes from the can. I personally like a smooth tomato broth, so I use my hand blender and blend until smooth or you can use a regular blender. Then add 6 C. of water, one tsp. salt, cilantro stems and put it on a medium high flame. Let it come to a rolling boil and you will being to smell the cilantro and tomatoes. Turn to simmer for another 5 minutes. This is when you can use the slotted spoon and remove all cilantro stems . I do not mind them and my kids will remove them from them bowl while eating.
At the same time, in a mortar and pestle crush cumin seeds, pepper corns and garlic into a very coarse paste or mixture. Alternatively you can chop garlic and crack the pepper corns.
In a small sauce pan and add oil or ghee. Keep the flame on low medium so that you don't burn the oil. Once the oil gets smoky, first add mustard seeds. As they begin to pop, quickly add the garlic mixture to bring the temperature down or the mustard seeds will pop all over your stove top. Then add your turmeric and chill powder. Add this infused oil to the soup and let the soup simmer for a minute or two. Turn off the flame. Adjust salt, brown sugar to your taste. Finish it off with chopped cilantro
Ladle soup in bowls with some crusty bread or a small scoop of cooked brown rice at the bottom of your bowl and ladle the soup on top.
You can use fresh summer tomatoes for refreshing taste. First you have boil then and blend them to a puree. Cilantro stems have lots of flavor and oils which gives the most fragrant aroma. We like our rasam really broth and tangy. So I sometimes add a dash of lime juice before serving.