Rasam powder step-by-step recipe with photos.
What is rasam?
Rasam is a spicy-tangy-sweet lentil soup made with toor dal (pigeon pea or tur dal), tomatoes, tamarind, and rasam powder. This thin soup-like dish is called 'saaru' in Kannada. The most common rasam I make is Mysore rasam. While a typical South Indian rasam is watery and served mostly like a soup, Mysore rasam is prepared slightly thick and is served with rice.
Rasam/saaru is very different from sambar in terms of texture and ingredients. Typically, sambar is thick and creamy dal made using vegetables whereas rasam is thin, runny, and soup-like and made mostly with tomatoes (and no other vegetable). Tomato rasam is tangier and uses a good amount of tamarind juice along with tomatoes. Rasam can also be made with raw mangoes.
Sambar is served not just with lunch or dinner, it is also served as an accompaniment with South Indian breakfast like idli or dosa. Rasam, on the other hand, is served only with rice as a part of lunch or dinner. Traditionally, it is not served as an accompaniment with idli or dosa.
Not only is rasam famous for its deliciousness, but it is also known for its health benefits and medicinal properties. A warm bowl of rasam is considered a cure for the common cold and flu-like symptoms. Rasam helps in facilitating digestion and preventing constipation.
What is rasam powder?
Rasam powder is a blend of spices that are roasted and ground into a fine powder, which is then used in rasam recipe. This spice mix is called saarina pudi (or saaru pudi) in Kannada and rasam podi in Tamil/Telugu. Making their own rasam podi is a common practice in most South Indian homes and we South Indians seldom buy it. The spices are roasted at home and these roasted spices are taken to a flour mill to be ground into a fine powder.
Homemade rasam powder recipe has many variations - it varies from state to state in south India and also varies within regions of each state. Rasam powder recipe, like many other spice blends, is passed down from generation to generation.
My easy recipe here is what is commonly found in the Mysore region of Karnataka and is called saarina pudi or Mysore rasam powder. This version is slightly different from the Udupi rasam powder recipe, where the spices are fried in coconut oil instead of dry roasting.
While rasam powder is easily available in stores, it cannot match the taste of a freshly ground spice blend. Not just the freshness, homemade spice blends are free from any food colorings and they can also be adjusted to suit your taste buds too - for example, by adjusting the spice level. It uses common Indian spices available in your kitchen pantry.
Make the best rasam powder with this step-by-step detailed recipe. Also, click here to learn how to make an authentic homemade sambar powder recipe.
Coriander seeds: This is the main ingredient used in this spice mix. Coriander seeds are the dried fruit of the coriander plant.
Cumin seeds: Cumin seeds are dried seeds of the herb Cuminum cyminum, which belongs to the parsley family.
Dried red chili: Dried red chili is ripe chilies that are sun-dried and stored. Usually, in my spice blends, I use two varieties of dried red chili – one mild which adds a bright red color (either Byadagi chili or Kashmiri chili), and the other hot chili (Guntur chili). Both these chilies are named after the places they are grown in.
Black Pepper: Whole black pepper is a key spice used in rasam podi/saaru pudi. Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices, not just in India but across the world. They offer a unique flavor and add heat to the dish they are used in.
Mustard seeds: Mustard is a spice that is very common in South Indian cooking. These tiny seeds come in two varieties – black and yellow mustard. Here, I am using black mustard seeds.
Fenugreek seeds: Fenugreek seeds add a pungent flavor to the spice mix.
Curry leaves: Fresh curry leaves are an aromatic herb that is an essential part of South Indian dishes and is added in temperings. They are dry-roasted and used in spice blends.
Asafoetida: Asafoetida or hing is one of the lesser-known spices in Indian cooking. It is the dried gum extracted from giant fennel plants. Hing is an age-old medicine used for healing stomach problems including bloating, indigestion, and gas.
Turmeric: Turmeric is one of the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking. Turmeric root is used both in fresh and dried forms. These days, turmeric is readily available in powdered form. Traditionally, dried turmeric roots are used but since they are not readily available here, I use turmeric powder.
Heat a frying pan until it is hot and turn it to low flame. Add coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Dry roast them until they have a nice aroma. Set them aside on a plate or wide tray (step 1).
Add both varieties of dry red chilies (Byadagi and Guntur) and roast them until they are crispy and puff up. Set them aside. Now, dry roast curry leaves until they are dried and crispy. Set them aside (steps 2 and 3).
Next, add black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and methi seeds. Fry them until they are golden brown (step 4).
Add asafoetida powder and turmeric powder. Fry for a few seconds (not more than 10 seconds). Set everything aside on a plate and let the roasted ingredients cool and come to room temperature. (steps 5 and 6).
Grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mixie (steps 7 and 8). Store the ground powder in a clean and dry airtight container.
The measurements here gave me approximately 230 grams.
Do all the dry roasting on low heat. Heat the frying pan initially and then turn the flame to low before you start dry-roasting.
After adding hing and turmeric powder, mix only for a few seconds (not more than 10 seconds). These two ingredients tend to burn quickly which may impart a bitter taste to the masala powder.
Rasam powder stays fresh when stored in an air-tight container in a refrigerator. Spice mixes, when stored in the refrigerator or freezer, stay fresh for a long time. They can be used straight from both the fridge and the freezer.
Always use a clean and dry spoon when handling the spice powders. Any moisture content will reduce the shelf life of the spice powder.
This recipe here gives me 15 tablespoons (approximately 230 grams) of rasam spice mix. You may choose to half or double the recipe as per your need.
While some spices are common between both spice powders, there are some key differences. The most important difference is the texture. Rasam podi has to be ground into a very fine powder whereas sambar podi can be fine to slightly coarse. In terms of ingredients, chana dal (Bengal gram) and urad dal (black gram) are used in making sambar powder. Black pepper is a key ingredient in rasam powder whereas it is not used in sambar powder.
Homemade rasam powder stays fresh when stored in an air-tight container in a refrigerator. In fact, I prefer to store all my spice blends either in the refrigerator or the freezer as they stay fresh for longer. They can be used straight from both the fridge and the freezer. This recipe here gives me approximately 230 grams of rasam masala powder. You may choose to half or double the recipe as per your need.
This rasam masala spice blend is:
- very easy to make
- can be made in a large batch and stored in the freezer
- can be used directly from the freezer or refrigerator without any thawing
- versatile and can be used in stir-fries to make them more flavourful
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Homemade Rasam Powder / Saarina Pudi
- 1 cup coriander seeds (dhaniya)
- ½ cup cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 cup Byadagi red chili mildly spiced dried red chili
- 5-6 Guntur chili hot dried red chili
- ½ cup curry leaves
- 2 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds/menthya)
- 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- ½ tablespoon asafoetida hing
- Heat a frying pan until it is hot and turn the flame to low.
- Add coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Dry roast them until they are aromatic. Set them aside on a plate or wide tray.
- Add both varieties of dried chili (Byadagi and Guntur) and roast them until they are crispy and puff up. Set them aside.
- Now, dry roast curry leaves until they are dried and crispy. Set them aside.
- Next, add black pepper, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Fry them until they are golden brown.
- Add hing and turmeric and fry for a few seconds (not more than 10 seconds). Set everything aside.
- Let all the ingredients cool down completely.
- Grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mixie
- Store in a dry and clean air-tight container.