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The only rasam recipe you’ll need as an Indian student abroad

rasam recipe
Herbs and spices come together to form this staple dish in every Indian home. Now you can recreate it, too. Source: Manjunath Kiran/AFP

Whether it’s to cure your homesickness or fight a cold, rasam, a popular spicy and tangy soup, is a healthy food choice that you can make in under 30 minutes. And the best part? A rasam recipe is easy enough to recreate in a student kitchen.

Rasam is a staple in Indian food, but did you know that it’s also known as an immunity booster that aids digestion? The soup is a potent concoction of herbs and spices with a delightful golden hue. It recently shot to popularity during the pandemic for its health properties. So, what does a rasam recipe consist of, and how can students recreate it? Let’s find out.

rasam recipe

Indian cuisine is known for its complex flavours, but this recipe is easy enough to make with the right ingredients. Source: Diptendu Dutta/AFP

What spices do I need for this rasam recipe?

It’s easier to find the right ingredients to whip up Indian food when you’re living in a major student city. Cities with immigrant populations often have grocers carrying the basic spices for this rasam recipe: black peppercorns, cumin, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds.

Indian students would be familiar with these, but if this is your first time attempting this cuisine, ask for help to identify them. These spices are touted for their various health benefits — they help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and even fight bacteria. It’s no wonder Indian elders were convinced rasam could help keep you healthy during the pandemic. Together, the immunity-boosting properties of these spices make rasam a wholesome dish that’s worth recreating in your tiny kitchen.

Fresh ingredients are important too

Besides spices, you’ll also need a few fresh ingredients that are relatively easy to find — just look in your local produce section. They are:

  • Chilli
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Curry leaves
  • Coriander
  • Tamarind paste (which can be replaced with lime juice)

Chilli is present in three forms: fresh, dry, and powder. Together with turmeric powder, it forms the broth’s bright colour and the basis of its antioxidative properties. On top of that, curry leaves and coriander are good for digestion, blood health, and cholesterol management. Once you have these ingredients, it’s time to attempt the rasam recipe.

rasam recipe

Rasam is a staple dish in Indian households that is used to boost immunity, especially when one is unwell. Source: Arun Sankar/AFP

Immunity-boosting soup in 10 easy steps

Don’t have a stove? You could try this rasam recipe in an electric rice cooker, too. Once done, enjoy the hearty soup alone, or over hot, steamed rice. This rasam recipe is perfect for two to three servings; if you make a big batch, freeze it and simply reheat to enjoy over the next week.

  1. Soak tamarind (about the size of 3 fingers) in one cup of hot water. Squeeze seeds out. Alternatively, mix 1/4 cup of lime juice with a cup of hot water.
  2. Pound three garlic cloves, two fresh chillies, and two sprigs of curry leaves with 1.5 teaspoon cumin and one teaspoon black peppercorns. No pestle and mortar? Use a blender instead, or cut the fresh ingredients up real small and smash with the spices.
  3. Add a smashed tomato into the tamarind/lime juice. Add another cup of water.
  4. Heat oil in pan or rice cooker; add 1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and two dried chillies. Use more chillies if you have the spice tolerance to match.
  5. Add pounded ingredients from step two and sautee. Here’s when it begins to smell like rasam.
  6. Add 1.5 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1.5 teaspoon chilli powder. Mix well.
  7. Stir in the mixture of tomato and tamarind juice.
  8. Add another cup of water.
  9. Add salt and bring to a boil.
  10. Add chopped coriander and serve.