Murungai (Drumstick) Rasam





Drumstick in any form as the pod, leaves or even the flowers is used in South Indian cuisine or even among the Bengalis very frequently. The flavor and its loaded mineral content makes it a much sought after vegetable. Very often the fruit finds its place in sambars, vatha kuzhambu or avial. The leaves are sauteed and cooked as a  stir fry in an onion-tomato base  or they are used as a topping in adai.   The tender drumsticks are a hot favorite with Bengalis who cook it with fish or potatoes.

Murungakai rasam is also quite popular as it is a very aromatic rasam. I used the pulp from the fruit and also the leaves to make the rasam and it was a good decision.


Drumstick      10 to 12 pieces (3″ long)

Tomato            1 big or 2 medium-sized

Tamarind       1   gooseberry-sized ball or 1 tbsp pulp

Rasam powder    2 tsp

Salt              1 tsp

Arahar dal  2 tbsp

Turmeric powder ¼  tsp

Moringa leaves   1 tsp (separated and cleaned)

Ghee 1 tsp

Mustard seeds   1 tsp

Pepper powder ½  tsp  (optional)

Asafotida  ¼ tsp

Water 4 cups



  • Add water and turmeric powder to arahar dal and pressure cook the dal along with tomato for 4 whistles to get a soft texture.  Cook the moringa pieces in the cooker in a bowl while cooking the  dal.  Scrape out the flesh from the skin and add to dal-tomato mixture. Keep the seeds separately. Mash the dal, moringa flesh and tomato to a pulpy consistency and keep it ready.
  • Add salt and rasam powder to tamarind extract/pulp and add a cup of water and boil on medium flame till the raw rasam powder smell is gone (about 5 to 7 minutes). Make the volume to 1 liter.
  • Add the dal-moringa pulp to the rasam when it starts boiling  and simmer it till the rasam starts frothing. Add asafotida powder, cooked moringa seeds and switch off the flame.

In a thick-bottomed ladle/wok heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts spluttering add pepper powder (if used) ans switch off the flame. Add the moringa leaves to the seasoning while hot and let the leaves get crisp. Transfer the seasoning to the rasam and enjoy one of the most flavorsome rasams.

Murungaka rasam

Chef’s Note

  • Freshly roasted rasam powder  can be used in place of ready powder.
  • Some like to drop drumstick pieces in the rasam instead of pulping it like I did.

No garnishing with curry leaves or cilantro is done in this rasam as the flavor of moringa can get masked. Moringa leaves are used for garnishing and to add to the flavor.

murnga rasam








Udupi Rasam



Time we visited the coastal Karnataka after reveling in the land of mangoes for a festive cuisine …. Udupi rasam! No meal offered in the Udupi temples/Dharmasthala or any of the Brahmin Mangalorean wedding feast is complete without the famous Udupi rasam. The specialty of the rasam powder for this is the inclusion of mustard seeds as also fenugreek seeds. Furthermore, the ingredients are roasted in a generous amount of coconut oil and often the tempering is also done in coconut oil. Naturally with so much of coconut flavor to it, fresh coconut is only optional. The powder is made in bulk and used for other stir fry dishes too. I used coconut oil minimally to roast the condiments and I love the aroma of ghee in tempering; so tempering in ghee. To balance the heat from the chilies I used coconut and also jaggery. Byadagi chilli is used to give the vibrant color and one can use a mix of normal red chilies and Byadagi chilies to give color and taste.

This recipe is adapted from the recipe from  Chitra Amma’s Kitchen


Tamarind 1 lemon/gooseberry sized ball or  1 tbsp of pulp

Green chili 1 (slit)

Arahar dal 2 tbsp (to be pressure cooked)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Tomato 2 medium-sized

Fresh coconut 1 tbsp (grated)

Curry leaves frpom 3 sprigs

Salt 1 tsp or as per taste

Jaggery powder ½ tsp

Ghee 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Water 4 cups


For rasam powder

rasam condiments


Red chillies 4

Byadage chilies 4

Coriander seeds 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1tsp

Urad dal 1 tsp

Coconut oil  ¼ tsp

 Mustard seeds 1/3 tsp

Fenugreek seeds ¼ tsp

udupi rasam ingred


  • Add turmeric powder to the washed arahar dal and pressure cook the dal for 4 whistles.
  • For rasam powder: In a wide and thick-bottomed pan add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and dry roast till the color starts changing to brown. Remove from fire and transfer to a platter to cool.

Add the coconut oil to the same pan and roast the chilies, followed by cumin seeds, coriander seeds and urad dal. As the aroma is released switch off the flame and transfer to the platter to cool down.

Powder the roasted condiments to a slightly coarse texture.

  • Blanch the tomato in hot water or by microwaving for a minute. Blend the blanched tomato, coconut and curry leaves to a smooth paste.
  • Extract the pulp from tamarind soaked in warm water into the cooking vessel or add the ready pulp and make up the volume to 1 cup. Add salt and slit chilly and keep it on slow fire till the raw smell of tamarind is gone.
  • Add the mashed dal and tomato-coconut paste to the vessel and make up the volume to 1 liter.
  • When the mix starts boiling add the rasam powder, asafotida, and jaggery. Switch off the flame when the mix starts boiling and gets frothy.
  • Temper the mustard seeds and transfer to the ready rasam.

udupi saaru


Normally this rasam uses coconut oil for tempering and those who love strong coconut flavor can use coconut oil. The condiments are also roasted (fried?) in a fairly large scoop of oil

Red chili is commonly used in tempering but I decided to skip it.




Raw Mango Rasam

mango rasam


Mango and rasam?!

Anything can happen in the land of mangoes! Raw mango is a good sour base and can replace  tamarind in rasam. If anything, I realized that mango rasam is not so uncommon a rasam; I was quite surprised to note that this rasam is quite popular in Andhra and is known as mamidikaya charu. Mango has been taken to new heights by using ripe fruits of mango in rasam by mango fans.

A little bit of research showed that rasam powder is often used in this dish but I decided to add the aroma of fresh spices and enhance the flavor with a dash of ginger and slit green chilly. Needless to say this was a great success.



Raw mango 1 medium-sized

Tomato    1 medium-sized (optional)

Green chilly 1

Ginger 1” piece (grated)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Salt 1 tsp

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Arahar dal 2 tbsp

Water 4 cups

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee 1 tbsp

Asafotida  ¼ tsp

Jaggery powder ½ tsp

For Spice powder

Dry  red chilies   4

Peppercorn  ½ tsp

Cumin seeds  ½ tsp

Coriander seeds  1½ tsp

Fenugreek seeds   ¼ tsp




  • Add turmeric powder to washed arahar dal and pressure cook till soft. Mash the cooked dal and keep it ready.
  • When the dal is getting cooked prepare the spice powder by roasting the spices listed in a few drops of ghee (in the order given) on a low flame just to the point when the aroma is released. Ensure that the color does not change. Powder finely when the spices are cooled.
  • Blanch the tomato and dice the peeled mango. Transfer the mango pieces, tomato and curry leaves to a blender and blitz it fine.
  • Transfer the blended pulp to a thick-bottomed pan, add salt, grated ginger, and slit chilly and add a cup of water and cook on a medium flame. When the mix starts boiling add the mashed dal and make up the volume to 1 liter with the remaining water.
  •  When the rasam starts foaming add asafotida and jaggery powder and remove from flame.
  • Heat the ghee in the tempering ladle and let the mustard seeds splutter and transfer to rasam.


manga rasam


If you prefer to use rasam powder in place of freshly done powder, let it boil for 5 minutes in a cup of water before adding the pulp. Where you like to enjoy the exclusive flavor of mango skip tomato.

As the pulp gives a thick consistency, if you like a thinner consistency use just a tablespoon of arahar dal.

No coriander leaves required in this rasam.

Mysore Rasam


Exotic … is how one describes this rasam! As the name implies, this rasam has its origin from Karnataka and unlike rasam known as “saaru” in this region, it is called Mysore Rasam. A specialty of this rasam is use of coconut, and as is the trend in Karnataka, desiccated coconut is used in many dishes, a tradition that possibly evolved as a technique to preserve excess coconuts from spoiling. I prefer to use fresh coconut as desiccated coconut gives a different aroma akin to coconut oil. No rasam powder is used here as the ingredients are freshly roasted and powdered. Another feature of Karnataka is add jaggery to rasam. Actually I prefer to add either jaggery or a pinch of sugar in rasam as such as it enhances the taste.

This rasam is normally thick in consistency and makes a wholesome mix with steamed rice.


Tamarind  lemon-sized/gooseberry-sized ball (1 tbsp pulp)

Arahar dal  2 tbsp (to be pressure cooked)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Tomato 2 medium-sized (blanched)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Water 4 cups

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee  1 tbsp

Powdered Jaggery ½tsp

For rasam powder

Red chilies     5

Peppercorns     1 tsp

Cumin seeds     1 tsp

Coriander seeds  1 tbsp

Chan dal        1 tsp

Grated Coconut  2 tbsp


  • Add a few drops of ghee in a wok and roast the spices for the powder in the order chilies, pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and chana dal. The spices should be roasted on a low flame and just till the aroma is released to retain the aroma. Transfer to a dry plate and in the same wok dry roast the coconut till the moisture is gone. Transfer to the plate and wait for it cool. Transfer the cooled spices to a blender and blitz it to get a slightly coarse powder. Keep the powder aside and in the same blender puree the blanched tomatoes and fresh curry leaves.
  •  In the meantime pressure-cook the dal after adding turmeric powder to it and keep it ready.
  • Add salt to the tamarind extract in a wide vessel and boil it till the raw smell of tamarind is gone as it happens in less than 5 minutes. Add the puree and boil for another 2 minutes or a minute longer and add the mashed dal. Make up the volume to 4 cups or roughly 1 liter. When the mix starts boiling add the spice powder, jiggery, and asafotida. Switch off the flame as soon as the rasam starts frothing and boiling.
  • Heat ghee in a wok and add mustard seed when the ghee is hot. As soon as the seeds splutter transfer the tempered seeds to the rasam. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy one of the heavenly rasams!




Rasam Powder


Rasam powder is one of the core ingredients of most rasams unless one were to vary the basic powder with varied spicing as in pepper rasam, for instance. Although many branded powders are available in the market home-made powder has its edge over commercially available spices!


Red Chilies           100 g

Coriander seeds     150 g

Pepper corns   50 g

Cumin seeds 50 g

Arahar dal (split pigeon pea)   50 g

Turmeric powder 30 g (1 tbsp)


  • Place a wok over low flame and dry roast pepper and cumin seeds for 2 minutes. Just as the aroma is released transfer to a platter and allow it to cool.
  • In the same wok dry roast the chilies till it feels crisp. Remove after a minute or two and ensure that the color does not change. transfer to the platter.
  • Roast the coriander seeds again just enough to ensure it is dry and crisp. Transfer to the platter.
  • Roast the dal now till the color starts changing and you get the aroma of roasted dal as will be seen in 3 minutes or so.
  • Transfer the cooled ingredients along with turmeric powder to a blender and powder it fine. Transfer the powder to an airtight container. It can be store for many months.

Chef’s Note

When done on a large scale I prefer to use rhizome of dry turmeric  in place of powder and roast it a little.

When sufficient sunlight is available, it  is preferable to sun dry the chillies and coriander seeds than roast them.

Green Pepper Rasam


With a short note highlighting the role of rasam I decided to kickoff the series with an innovative rasam. Bell pepper is one of the most flavorsome veggies, rich in antioxidants and finds its way onto many dishes from healthy salad to rich pizza. Certainly it needs to find its way into rasam too.  Many rasams are based on the core paruppu/tomato rasam with other ingredients finding their way into it. I decided to smoke the pepper to give it added flavor and it certainly made it divine!


Green pepper    1 (big)

Tomato               2 (medium-sized)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Arahar dal                 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder        ¼ tsp

Tamarind    lemon-sized ball or 1 tbsp pulp

Rasam powder 2 tsp

Salt  1 tsp

Pepper powder ½ tsp

Cumin powder ½ tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee 1tsp

Water 4 cups

bell pepper rasam


  • Add turmeric powder to the washed dal and pressure cook till it is soft and mushy.
  • Brush the bell pepper with a few drops of oil and grill it on a low flame till it stops crackiling and the skin turns black in color. Drop the pepper into a ziploc bag and leave in the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps in peeling/brushing off the skin easily.
  • If using tamarind extract the pulp into a vessel after soaking the scales for 10 minutes in hot water or add the tamarind into the vessel and add a cup of water,
  • To the extract add rasam powder, salt and boil it on low flame for 5 minutes or longer till the raw smell is gone.
  • Meanwhile. blanch the tomatoes and remove the skin. Transfer the tomato, curry leaves, and peeled pepper to a blender and blitz to get a smooth pulp.
  • Add the mashed dal to the boiled rasam base  and add the remaining three cups of water. As soon as the rasam starts boiling add the blended pulp and switch off the flame when the first bubbles are seen. DO NOT boil it too long.
  • Heat the ghee in a small wok and add the mustard seeds to temper. As soon as it starts spluttering add the pepper powder and cumin powder and switch off the flame. Pour the tempered seasoning to the rasam, garnish with coriander leaves, and enjoy one of the most divine rasams!



No asafotida was added as the rasam is flavorful with bell pepper

Rasam Galore

Rasam … the simple term from Sanskrit, and a dish made in every South Indian household is quintessential of what it means … “the essence”. Whoever coined the term for this dish must have realized that it is really the essence of cooking and possibly the soul food for many like me. Whether it be a celebration as a wedding where feasting is looked forward to, a party where it becomes an appetizer, a comfort dish when one feels low, a digestive during sickness, name it and rasam is always there to meet one’s needs. This is one dish where it takes varied forms from its basic ingredients: a sour base, lentil, spice in the form of ready rasam powder or made with freshly ground ingredients, tempering and garnishing with curry leaves or cilantro leaves. Mind you, the tempering in ghee (clarified butter) is vital in bringing out the flavor to the hilt.

Wherever tamarind serves as the sour base one can use tamarind pulp in place of extract from soaked tamarind scales to save on time and for rasam in a jiffy.

Variations of these building blocks with some other ingredients finding their way into the rasam have given way for a galaxy of rasams! Much as I would love to post blogs on every type, I propose to post at least a dozen of them based on the occasions or requirements: Some the most commonly known ones, a few that are not so common and a few innovative ideas!
I do hope my effort in taking this dish to more households across the continents works. Hope you enjoy them and I would love feedback too.