Rasam (Saaru)

If I had to pick a dish that I had to eat everyday of my life, it would, without a doubt, be Anna-Saaru (Rice & Rasam). No, not Roti-Subzi, Macaroni-Cheese, Pasta, or Ice cream, no, not even pizza. It would be Anna-Saaru. For me, the Mysore rasam (or saaru as kannadigas call it) embodies taste, nourishment, and satisfaction. No South Indian meal is complete without rasam and my life is certainly better for it. It’s a staple in my house.

Soft, steaming rice mixed with a drizzle of home-made ghee, and the celebration starts. Don’t even think of using a spoon. The whole experience has to start with your fingers mixing the rice and ghee. You need to take a few moments to savor the heavenly aroma that emanates from this mix. Now add a ladleful of saaru… and everything’s good. If you are an Indian, especially a South Indian, you would know what I am talking about. If I have to write my Rubaiyat, it would start with “A bowl of rice, a bowl of saaru – and ghee beside me..” This is the magic of anna-saaru for me.

Here is the “standard version” (with tomatoes) of Saaru, as served in most Mysore-Bangalore households today. In one of my previous blogs I have written the recipe for Saarina Pudi/Rasam powder, a very essential ingredient for the Rasam. I don’t really have a recommendation for a particular brand of rasam powder, but i guess the MTR brand would be a good start. Enjoy rasam with roti rice, or just by itself. If you are eating rasam with rice, the rice should be very soft. Soft rice, when properly mushed with rasam will surely enhance the taste of the rice and rasam.

1/2 cup toor dal/pigeon peas/tuver ni daL
1/4 tea spoon turmeric/haldi/haLdar
2 medium size tomatoes
1.5 tea spoon rasam powder
1/2 inch piece jaggery/bella/goL
4 table spoons tamarind water (soak a small lemon-sized tamarind in 1/4 cup water for few minutes. Crush it with your fingers for about 30 seconds and extract the water. Throw away the pulp.)
1 tea spoon ghee (or butter but never oil!)
1/2 tea spoon mustard seeds/saasve/rai
1 sprig curry leaves/kadhi patta/miTho limDo
1/4 tea spoon good quality asafoetida/hing
1.5 tea spoon salt

In a big sauce pan, cook toor dal with turmeric and tomatoes in 2 cups of water until soft and mushy. Pressure cooker works very well for this.

Separately, in a sauce pan/tapeli, boil together tamarind water, jaggery/bella/goL, rasam powder and salt along with 1/4 cup of water. You can also add curry leaves at this time. Boil on low heat for about 3 minutes. I believe this is a very important step in making rasam. This allows the tamarind water to mix well with other spices and as a result the spices get nicely “seasoned.”

All the good stuff in rasam-Tamarind, rasam powder, jaggery, and curry leaves

All the good stuff in rasam-Tamarind, rasam powder, jaggery, and curry leaves

Meanwhile, mash the cooked dal and tomatoes with a hand blender or a whisk and add to the boiling tamarind water. Add 2 cups of water (this rasam is more on the watery side.) Boil on medium heat for 5 more minutes.

For vaghar/chhaunk/tadka/oggarane: Heat ghee in a small sauce pan. When the ghee is hot, add mustard seeds. Once the seeds start spluttering, add hing and immediately remove the pan from the stove. Add this vaghar to the boiling rasam. Shut off the stove. Do not boil rasam after the vaghar is added.


7 Responses to “Rasam (Saaru)”

  1. Shirley Says:

    Hi Anupama,
    Where can I find the recepie for Saarina Pudi/Rasam powder? I read in the comments section that you have posted it on a previous blog.Can you please direct me to the blog.

  2. Daksha Says:

    Hi Anupama,
    We have our idlis with sambhar so would I use this recipe?
    Thanks, Daksha

    • Anupama Krishnamurthy Says:

      Hi Daksha,
      This rasam is generally had with rice in Mysore-bangalore region. The Sambhar that you eat with Idlis is made slightly differently using a special Sambhar powder. To make sambhar, fry veggies like eggplant, onions, carrots etc. in a little ghee (or you can pressure cook them) and then add cooked toor dal, tamarind water, salt and sambhar powder (you can use MTR brand, which is quite good). You might need to add some more water to bring it to sambhar consistency. Finally, add tadka/vaghar of ghee, curry leaves, mustard seeds and hing.


  3. shubha shashikanth Says:

    Hi anupama… Nice blog with lovely writing…. I enjoy your writing style… entered your blog thru the Saaru recipe… which I love and incidentally updated in my blog a couple of days ago… Totally agree with you.. Saaru anna and uppinkayi is my idea of simple and filling meal.

  4. Nilima Says:

    I had the sudden craving to try your Rasam recipe y’day and it came out sooo good!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Anupama Krishnamurthy Says:

    Hi Kavita, I am happy to hear that you liked this recipe.

  6. kavita Says:

    Hi Anupama, I had always wanted to learn how to make good south-indian style rasam and i tried your recipe and it was so…good. I see that you have a recipe for rasam powder also. Thanks for the clear directions. Your creamy eggplant looks too good . I will try it soon. Thanks, and good luck with your cooking blog.


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