This rasam brings back memories of being a young boy in Nagpur, a small city in the western state of Maharashtra where my family lived for about three years. My dad's boss there was South Indian, and I was introduced to the exotic smells and tastes of southern Indian cooking in his home. Every time we went there for dinner, his wife would meet us with glasses of this rasam. It took only a very short time for me and my family to become enchanted by these wonderful tastes.
- 2 medium tomatoes, one quartered and one chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 fresh hot green chile, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
- 1 teaspoon store-bought curry powder, or 2 teaspoons rasam powder
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 whole dried red chiles
- 4 fresh or 6 to 8 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces (optional)
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1. Puree the quartered tomato with the garlic in a blender of food processor. Set aside.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped tomato, the ginger, cilantro, and green chile. Turn the heat down and simmer 3 minutes.
3. Add the tomato-garlic puree, the curry or rasam powder, cumin, black pepper, and salt and simmer 5 minutes.
4. For the tempering oil, combine the oil and mustard seeds in a small frying pan or saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover (the mustard seeds splatter and pop) and cook until you hear the mustard seeds crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Add the chiles and cook uncovered, stirring, until they start to brown, about 30 seconds.
6. Add the curry leaves and coconut, if using, and cook, stirring, until the coconut turns golden brown, about 30 more seconds.
7. Pour immediately into the soup and stir. Serve hot.