Spicy South Indian Tamarind Vegetable Soup

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Spicy South Indian Tamarind Vegetable Soup

On a cold winter night — of which we've had plenty here for the past too long — there's almost nothing as comforting and warming as a hot bowl of spicy vegetable soup. And when it's as cold as it's been here lately, I say that the spicier, the better.

South Indian soups known as rasams are especially delightful for taking the chill out of the bones at this time of year. A blend of hot and aromatic toasted seeds and spices bring a peppery heat and layers of seasoning to the soup, but the most distinctive and appealing feature of rasams is the generous use of tamarind as a base. The sweet and sour taste of the tamarind underlies and enhances all of the spices, lentils and vegetables in the soup, giving the rasam a complexity of flavors that belies the ease of its preparation.

This toor dal and mixed vegetable rasam can be prepared with the vegetables of your choice, but whichever you do choose, the soup will be light, fragrant, and give you and your diners just the right kick to forget that winter is raging outside your doors.

Spicy South Indian Tamarind Vegetable Soup (Tarkari Rasam)Spicy South Indian Tamarind Vegetable Soup (Tarkari Rasam)
Recipe by
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on January 28, 2019

Spicy, tangy and fragrant south Indian soup with lentils and mixed vegetables — warming and zesty

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 to 2 dried whole red chilies, to taste, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables, chopped (I used mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, green peas and carrots)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Thoroughly rinse the toor dal and in a strainer and transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with 2 cups of water and let soak for 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of hot water for 30 to 40 minutes. Place a strainer over a bowl, tip the tamarind and water into the strainer, and push through as much pulp as you can. Discard the remaining pulp and set the tamarind water aside.

  • Stir the turmeric into the toor dal and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dal is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

  • While the dal is cooking, prepare the spice blend.* Dry roast the coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds, peppercorns and fenugreek seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat, tossing or stirring frequently. When the seeds have darkened a few shades, transfer to a spice or coffeee grinder and blend into a fine powder. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds and remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to sputter and pop, add the dried chilies and asafetida. Stir once, then turn down the heat to medium and add the shallot. Cook for a few minutes until the shallot is softened and then add the garlic and ginger and fresh chilies. Stir for another minute or two. Now add the ground spice blend and paprika, and stir for another minute.

  • Now add the tomato and simmer for a few minutes, stirring often. Stir in the mixed vegetables and cook for another few minutes. Pour in the toor dal and any of its remaining cooking water, tamarind water, 3 cups of water, curry leaves, over half of the chopped parsley or cilantro, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add more water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

  • Stir in the salt, taste for seasoning, and serve hot in bowls, garnished with the remaining chopped parsley or cilantro.

  • Notes: If you don't wish to make your own easy rasam powder, than you might consider using my homemade sambar powder. You can make it up in large batches and have on hand for rasams and sambars. And although I prefer to make my own blends, you can also use purchased blends.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Tamarind Vegetable Rasam

Other rasams to enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Spicy Lentil Rasam
Beetroot Rasam
Tomato Tamarind Soup (Rasam)
Tomato and Lentil Rasam with Barley

No comments: