July 1, 2021

Tomato-Lemon Rasam

Tomato-Lemon Rasam

As the weather starts to get colder around these parts, one of my favorite things to do is make a large pot of rasam, which is a delicately spiced broth with layers of flavor. Drunk either on its own from a bowl or cup, or served alongside rice, this spicy broth is one of those dishes that checks off all the boxes when it comes to home comfort food!

Rasam in the most simplest of explanations is a spiced thin soup of sorts that's either drunk on its own or eaten with rice. Rasam variations are endless, as it depends on both the ingredients as well as the spice blend you use. Every household as their own favorite blend - mine is a blend of two dhals, coriander seeds, whole black pepper, turmeric, dried red chilies and curry leaves. Each ingredient (minus the turmeric) is dry roasted and blended together. I will be posting my recipe for rasam powder shortly, but in the mean time there are some great store-bought alternatives here. What's great is whether it's homemade or store bought, it keeps in your pantry for months. I use it whenever I make my favorite rasam such as tomato-lemon rasam or garlic rasam. Dinner's on the table in a pinch! And nothing beats that!

Tomato-Lemon Rasam

This deliciously intricate spicy soup from the South of India is perfect for those chilly evenings when all you want is a comforting bowl of something hot to drink.


Shilpa Iyer













  • 1/4 cup cooked yellow split pigeon peas (toor dhal)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp rasam podi (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 1 green chili, slit halfway
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds plus 1/2 tsp black peppercorn ground together finely
  • 1/2 tsp asafetida
  • approximately 6-8 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. To make the dhal, wash and drain the dhal.
  2. Place the washed dhal in a pressure cooker like an instant pot along with 1/2 cup water. Set the instant pot to cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Allow to naturally release the pressure.
  3. Once safe to open, use an immersion blender to blend the cooked dhal into a smooth paste. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot, add the tomato, water, rasam podi, turmeric, salt, ginger and green chili. Allow it to come to a boil over medium heat.
  5. Once boiling rapidly, reduce the flame and allow to simmer until the tomatoes break down, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. In a frying pan, heat the ghee. Once hot, add the mustard seeds first. As soon as the mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop, immediately add the ground cumin and peppercorn, asafetida and curry leaves in quick succession. The curry leaves will sizzle so stand back when you do this. Give the frying pan a quick swirl and turn off the flame. Immediately pour the flavored ghee with all its contents into the simmering rasam.
  7. Stir the rasam and add the cooked dhal. Allow the rasam to boil for 2 minutes and turn off the flame. Add the juice of 1 lemon after you've removed the rasam off the heat. Remove the green chili and ginger pieces.
  8. To serve as a drink skim the top of the rasam into a cup and serve hot. To serve with rice you may either skim the rasam from the top or mix the rasam to incorporate the dhal at the bottom and add that to steamed rice.
Thanks for contributing to our community! Your comment will appear shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Be the first to comment on this recipe


Inspired to see more from my kitchen?

Get a fresh delivery of my latest recipes and more, straight to your inbox! (And a special cocktail you won't find on the blog!)

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Accept & Close