Tomato rasam, also known as the "sniffle-kicking" soup, is a tomato-based soup from the south of India. There's enough garlic in a bowl of it to kill a cold (and several vampires); the pepper, asafetida, cumin, turmeric, and tomato will help clear up any inflammation in the sinuses. Leftover soup will keep in the freezer for up to a month, so don't hesitate to make extras for those days you feel a cold coming on.
Time to Build Your Spice Cabinet
You might be unfamiliar with some of the ingredients on this list, but with some searching — both at your local Indian grocery store or even online — you can track down some of the elements that might be new to you.
Asafetida: Also spelled asafoetida, this is the stem and root, a resin really, from a fennel-related plant. It's "stinky," yes, but adds amazing flavor similar to onion and garlic.
Chaat masala: This can easily be found online. However, any combination of the following ingredients will work as a substitution:
- Cumin seeds roasted and powdered
- Fennel seeds roasted and powdered
- Garam masala
- Amchoor (dried mango) powder
- Black salt
- Ground ginger
For the roasted tomatoes:
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil, melted over low heat
For the tadka:
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 teaspoons split urad dal
2 teaspoons whole brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 whole dried cayenne chiles, coarsely crushed
12 fresh curry leaves
For the spice blend:
3 tablespoons peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
10 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, smashed or coarsely ground
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon asafetida
For the soup:
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided
3 cups water
For the crowning flavor:
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1/2 cup diced cucumber
Roast the tomatoes: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tomatoes and onion in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the coconut oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
Make the tadka: Heat the sesame oil in a pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the urad dal. As it starts to brown (after about 30 seconds), add the mustard and cumin seeds. Shield yourself with a lid, as seeds will start popping immediately. Add the dried cayennes and curry leaves.
Add all of the spice blend ingredients and 1/2 of the cilantro leaves. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the roasted tomato-onion mixture and water. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste and season as needed. Blend with an immersion blender or in a stand blender to a broth consistency, adding more water if needed. Reheat well before serving.
Make the crowning flavor: Stir the lemon juice and chaat masala into the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with chopped cucumber and the remaining cilantro leaves.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reprinted with permission from Deepa's Secrets: Slow Carb New Indian Cuisine by Deepa Thomas, copyright (c) 2017. Published by Skyhorse Publishing.