When it’s cold outside, or when I’m feeling a bit under the weather (today, that’s all of the above!), I make myself a pot of rasam, a spicy Indian tomato soup with lentils. It’s a perfect sick person soup, because, unlike chicken soup, it takes minimal effort and much less time. I realize that some of these ingredients are a little exotic for those living in the US, so please don’t hesitate to message me with any questions regarding availability or preparation…
2 large tomatoes, about 1 1/2 cups, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons rasam powder (this is a mix of spices you can either purchase, or mix together at home)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (you get tamarind pulp by “dissolving” dried packaged tamarind in hot water and removing the seeds and other hard pieces), or, as needed to suit taste
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 tsp salt, or more, to suit taste
1/2 cup red lentils, out other lentil of your choice
2 sprigs curry leaves (about 10 leaves)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1) Clean and cook lentils in water until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Grind tomatoes, rasam powder, and turmeric in a food processor until coarsely puréed, and combine in a poor with 4 cups of water. Add tamarind pulp, salt, and lentils and bring to a boil. One boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover, allowing the flavors to blend for about 10 minutes.
2) “Tempering,” is a technique in Indian cooking that releases aromatic oils and flavors from spices by quickly sauteing them in hot oil. To do this, heat up coconut oil in a small frying pan(it’s actually more authentic to use ghee, or classified butter, but I don’t have a dairy soup pot, and the coconut oil tastes really good, so I didn’t bother to change!). Test the temperature of the oil by putting in a seed. If it pops and cracks, it’s ready. Put all the tempering spices into the hot oil and mix until the popping subsides, and the oil is fragrant, about a minute. Pour the mixture over the soup, and mix well. Add more salt, as you see fit, and even a pinch of sugar, of you find out a bit too sour. Serve this soup hot, plain, or over steamed basmati rice. Sometimes, for breakfast, I will poach an egg in it as well, but it’s just as delicious without.