Friday, June 18, 2010

Lemongrass Rasam (Lemongrass Scented Soup)

A lovely light lemony soup for anytime! I love serving this and other rasams as appetizers or starters with roasted papadams, chundal, or buttered sourdough toast fingers. Rasam is equally good served with a couple of spoonfuls of hot rice.

Makes about 1 Quart = 4 to 6 Appetizer Servings


1/4 cup Toor Dal, cooked until creamy in 2 cups of water (see Rasam)
1 or 2 stalks Lemongrass, crushed and coarsely chopped
2 Ripe Tomatoes
1 or 2 tsp Rasam powder, or to taste

1 Lime
2 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro


2 tsp Ghee/Oil
1/4 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 pinch Asafoetida
1 stalk Fresh Curry Leaves, finely sliced


Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the chopped lemongrass; let steep covered for 10 minutes. Strain the leaves and set aside the flavored water.

While lemongrass is brewing, bring a small pan of water to a boil; immerse the tomatoes for 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool. When cool, peel the skin off and cut in half, gently squeeze out all the seeds through a strainer set over a bowl. Discard the seeds; chop the pulp coarsely and combine with the juices in the bowl.

Combine tomatoes with 1/2 cup of fresh water in a 2 or 3 quart (liter) pan with salt, turmeric, and rasam powder and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the dal water (save the dal for another dish such as simple dal or a soup) along with the lemongrass water into the tomato mixture.

Simmer the rasam over medium heat until foamy but not boiling. Remove from heat.

Make the thalippu: heat the ghee/oil is a small pan and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping quickly stir in cumin seeds, then the asafetida and curry leaves. Remove from heat and pour immediately into the rasam carefully - the hot fat coming in contact with the rasam can sizzle and splash.

Cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the juice from the lime and the chopped cilantro leaves just before serving.

Serve hot in small bowls or cups or in soup bowls over rice.

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