Tomato Rasam - Healthier Steps

How to make Tomato Rasam

Tomato Rasam is a quintessential South Indian soup traditionally made with tart tomatoes, tamarind juice, and a diverse array of spices and herbs, producing a soul-warming concoction. It is characterized by its tangy flavor profile and is typically consumed as a warm broth or coupled with rice, thus serving both as a palate cleanser and as a digestive aid due to its light and fluid consistency.

The delicate balance of tastes in Tomato Rasam – sour from the tomatoes and tamarind, fiery from black pepper and dried red chilies, aromatic due to mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, and asafoetida (hing) – showcases the complexity of South Indian cuisine. Garlic, coriander, and turmeric are also often included to deepen the soup’s flavor and add to its healthful properties.

Tomato Rasam Recipe

Tomato Rasam - Healthier Steps

Tomato Rasam

Rasam is a thin South Indian soup made with or without lentils. Enjoy this tomato rasam as a soup or with rice.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Vegetable
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people
Calories 968 kcal


  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 medium saucepan



  • 11/2 cups coriander seeds
  • 6 or 7 dried Guntur chiles
  • 1/2 cup split pigeon peas
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon cumin seeds divided
  • 1/2 cup peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric


  • 2 Roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro divided
  • 2 curry leaf sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida



  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the coriander seeds, Guntur chiles, pigeon peas, 1⁄2 cup of the cumin seeds, and the peppercorns. Dry-roast for 4 to 5 minutes until the pigeon peas turn light brown. Turn off the heat and let cool.
  • Transfer the spice mixture to a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind into a coarse powder. Transfer to a storage container and stir in the turmeric.


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of rasam powder, the tomatoes, tamarind paste, garlic, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, curry leaves, salt, and water. Stir until mixed well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Using the back of a ladle, mash the tomatoes. Continue to simmer for 2 to 5 minutes more until the rasam becomes frothy on top. Turn off the heat.
  • In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the mustard seeds, remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, and asafoetida. Cook until the mustard seeds begin to sputter, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Add this spice mixture to the soup and stir until mixed well.
  • Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Partially cover the saucepan and let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to infuse.
Keyword coriander seeds, dried Guntur chiles

Cooking Tips about Tomato Rasam

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  • Select Ripe Tomatoes: Choose ripe, juicy tomatoes for a tangy and rich flavor base. They should be deep red and slightly soft to the touch.
  • Use Tamarind Wisely: Tamarind is key to achieving the characteristic tanginess of rasam. Soak it in warm water to extract its juice, but be mindful of the quantity to ensure it doesn’t overpower the tomatoes.
  • Balance Spices and Seasonings: A good balance of black pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric is essential. These spices can be ground fresh for a more potent flavor.
  • Implement a Flavorful Tadka: A tempered seasoning of mustard seeds, dried chilies, curry leaves, and asafoetida (hing) added to the rasam provides an aromatic depth.
  • Simmer Gently: After combining all the ingredients, let the rasam simmer gently to allow all the flavors to meld together. Avoid vigorous boiling which might dissipate some of the delicate flavors.
  • Adjust Consistency According to Preference: Some prefer their rasam to be thin and soup-like, while others like it slightly thicker. Adjust the amount of water to suit your taste.
  • Do Not Overcook: Cooking for too long can make the tomatoes lose their bright color and also impact the vitamin C content.
  • Garnish with Fresh Coriander: Add chopped coriander leaves towards the end of the cooking process to introduce a fresh element to the rasam.
  • Infuse with Garlic: For those who enjoy the flavor, crushed garlic can be added either in the tadka or boiled with the tomato mixture for a stronger flavor.
  • Add a Pinch of Sugar: To balance the acidity and enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, you can add a pinch of sugar.
  • Consult Additional Recipes for Masala Variations: If you’re making homemade rasam powder, look at various recipes as each family has its unique blend, and you might find one that suits your palate best.
  • Ensure Freshness: Serve the rasam hot and fresh to enjoy its soothing warmth and rich flavors. It’s also common to drink it from a glass or a cup as a digestive aid.

Serving suggestions about Tomato Rasam

Öneri filiz derived tomato rasam recipe -

  • As a Soothing Broth: Enjoy a hot cup of Tomato Rasam on its own as a rejuvenating broth, perfect for cold days or when seeking comfort food.
  • With Steamed Rice: Pour the Tomato Rasam over plain steamed rice for a light yet fulfilling meal. Mixing the tangy rasam with rice is a common way to enjoy it in South Indian households.
  • As a Digestive Aid: Have a small portion of Tomato Rasam at the end of your meal. Its spices and tamarind content help in digestion.
  • Accompanied by Pappadums: Crisp pappadums alongside Tomato Rasam make for a delightful combination, adding a crunchy texture contrast.
  • With Medu Vada: Dip Medu Vada (a savory lentil doughnut) into the rasam. The soft vada absorbs the flavorsome liquid, enhancing the taste experience.
  • In a Sadya Meal: Include Tomato Rasam in a multi-dish spread like a Sadya, allowing diners to sample a bit of everything, including this tangy treat.
  • Pair with Roasted Vegetables: Serve it with a side of roasted vegetables seasoned with Indian spices for a hearty and healthy meal option.
  • With Potato Fry or Chips: Pair the rasam with a spicy potato fry or even simple potato chips for a play on textures and flavors.
  • Garnish with Fresh Coriander: Add freshly chopped coriander leaves just before serving to introduce a herbaceous note to the rasam.
  • As a Warm Drink: Sip the Tomato Rasam from a mug or glass, savoring its warmth and tangy-spicy flavors as a stomach-settling beverage.

Top 5 FAQs about Tomato Rasam

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  • What type of tomatoes should be used for making Tomato Rasam? For the best flavor in Tomato Rasam, it’s recommended to use ripe, juicy tomatoes that are deep red and slightly soft to the touch. These provide a rich and tangy base to the rasam.
  • Can Tomato Rasam be made without tamarind? While tamarind is essential for the classic tangy flavor, if it’s unavailable, you could use lemon juice or a bit of lime juice as a substitute. However, the taste will differ from traditional Tomato Rasam.
  • Is Tomato Rasam considered healthy? Yes, Tomato Rasam is quite healthy. It is light, contains vitamins from tomatoes, and the spices used are known for their digestive and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • How long does Tomato Rasam last in the fridge? Tomato Rasam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Ensure it’s kept in an airtight container. Reheat gently before serving to preserve its flavors.
  • Can Tomato Rasam be frozen for later use? Yes, Tomato Rasam can be frozen. Allow it to cool down completely, transfer it to freezer-safe containers or bags, and freeze. Thaw and reheat on the stove or microwave when ready to consume. Keep in mind that freezing may slightly alter the texture of the rasam once reheated.

Tomato Rasam stands as a testament to the simplicity and elegance of South Indian cuisine, encapsulating a balance of flavors that soothe the palate and nurture the soul. With its vibrant tanginess from ripe tomatoes and tamarind, coupled with the heat of black pepper, the aromatic punch from the tempering of mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, and asafoetida, and the healing touch of garlic and turmeric, Tomato Rasam is more than just a soup—it’s a healing elixir.


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