Thakkali Rasam is a basic version of rasam, made using ripe tomatoes and a home-made spice powder. It has an appealing reddish colour and delectable taste, when made right. We make this rasam often, pairing it with hot rice and potato roast or a side like Muttaikose Poriyal.
Today, I am going to take you through the process of making Thakkali Rasam, which is very simple. This is the Tamilnadu style of making rasam, the way we do in our family.
What goes into Thakkali Rasam
‘Thakkali‘ is Tamil for tomatoes, which are the major ingredient used in this rasam. Most of the flavour in this rasam, as well as its pretty colour, comes from using tomatoes.
A small amount of toor dal is used in this rasam, to give it texture and substance. Like most rasam varieties, there is tamarind extract going in here too.
Home-made rasam powder (called ‘rasa podi‘ in Tamil) is used to add flavour, along with some jaggery. Here’s how we make fresh rasam powder at home.
Apart from the usual suspects – curry leaves and finely chopped coriander – there’s a simple ghee-based tempering added to this rasam.
Some more rasam varieties
‘Rasam‘ refers to a broth of sorts from the Southern part of India, commonly made with toor dal and tamarind. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of variations to rasam, which is typically consumed by itself as a soup or as an accompaniment to rice.
Rasam is comfort food for all of us at home, and we make quite a few varieties. There are several recipes on my blog already:
Kalyana Rasam, the rasam that is typically served at Tam-Brahm weddings
Nataraja Iyer Rasam, a recipe by a culinary legend
Poondu Rasam, a flavourful garlic rasam
Elumicchaipazham Rasam, a delicate rasam made using lemon as a souring agent
Arachuvitta Rasam, which is rasam made using a freshly ground spice mix
Orange Rasam, made using freshly squeezed orange juice
Kollu Rasam, made using water left over from cooking horsegram
Milagu Jeeram Rasam, a medicinal rasam variety made using black pepper and cumin seeds
Thippili Rasam, another medicinal rasam made using long pepper aka pippali
My blog friend Preethi has a very unique recipe for Tenginkayi Saaru, a Karnataka-style rasam using freshly grated coconut and coconut milk. I’ve been fascinated by it ever since she posted it – can’t wait to try it out!
How to make Thakkali Rasam
Here is how to go about it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1. 4 tablespoons toor dal
2. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
3. A lemon-sized ball of tamarind
4. 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
5. 1 tablespoon rasam powder or to taste
6. Salt to taste
7. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder
8. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
9. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
10. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
11. 2 pinches of asafoetida
12. 2-3 dry red chillies
13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Wash the toor dal well under running water. Drain out the water and take the dal in a wide vessel. Add in about 1/2 cup water or enough to cover the toor dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and allow 6-7 whistles on high flame. The dal should be cooked well and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. Meanwhile, soak the tamarind in hot water for it to soften. Let it cool down enough to handle.
3. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.
4. When the soaked tamarind has cooled down enough, extract all the juice from it. Use water as needed. I got about 1 cup of watery extract. Keep ready.
5. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it thoroughly. Keep ready.
6. In a heavy-bottomed pan, take the chopped tomatoes, along with about 1/2 cup water, the turmeric powder, curry leaves and a bit of salt. Place on high flame. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy. This should take 3-4 minutes.
7. Add in the tamarind extract at this stage. Cook on high flame for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
8. At this stage, turn the flame down to medium. Add in the cooked and mashed toor dal and about 1-1/4 cup water. Adjust salt to taste. Mix well.
9. Also add in the rasam powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture comes to a boil.
10. At this stage, turn down the flame even lower. Add in the jaggery powder. Let the mixture simmer for 4-5 minutes.
11. In the meantime, prepare the tempering for the rasam. Heat the ghee in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the dry red chillies and asafoetida – allow them to stay in for a few seconds, without burning. Add this tempering to the rasam simmering in the pan.
12. When the rasam is done simmering for 4-5 minutes, switch off the gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Thakkali Rasam is ready. Keep it covered for 7-10 minutes for the rasam to absorb the flavours of the tempering, then serve hot with rice and a poriyal of your choice.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use country (aka ‘Nati’) tomatoes as opposed to ‘farm’ tomatoes for a more flavourful rasam. They should be ripe and juicy.
2. You could grind the tomatoes to a puree or roughly crush them using your hands, instead of chopping them finely the way I have done here. We prefer finely chopping them.
3. Make sure the toor dal is well-cooked and soft before using it in the rasam. You need to mash it well before adding it to the pan.
4. If the rasam powder is not spicy enough, you could add some red chilli powder to the rasam. This is purely optional, though. I have used moderately spicy home-made rasam powder here.
5. A bit of jaggery makes the rasam more flavourful. However, you may skip this if you don’t prefer it.
6. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Thakkali Rasam that you require. Ideally, it should be quite runny, but not very watery.
7. A few cloves of garlic can be pounded in a mortar and pestle, and added to the tempering. This makes the rasam more delicious, but we don’t always do it.
8. Using ghee in the tempering makes it more flavourful. However, you may use oil instead too.
9. Do not cook the Thakkali Rasam for too long after adding the tempering.
10. Don’t forget to keep the rasam covered for a few minutes before serving. This helps the rasam absorb the flavours of the tempering and the coriander well.
11. This is a completely vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) due to the use of ghee. You could use oil in the tempering instead of ghee, to make it vegan.
12. This recipe is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Most brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour, to a lesser of greater extent, and are therefore best avoided while following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!