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Ginger and tamarind rasam from Kerala

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

I have become obsessed with rasam recently, they are spicy, flavorful and differ between regions, communities and even families. The word rasam is derived from the sanskrit, meaning extract or essence. It is considered a superfood due to the cooking process and extraction of nutrients from tamarind, turmeric and other heathy spices and herbs. A more detailed history of rasam here.

This rasam is quite spectacular, it pops with a wide array of flavors. the combination of ginger paired with sour from the tamarind, sweet from the jaggery and a burn from the chilies make it the perfect apéritif to open your palate and digestion. I like serving it in a glass rimmed with toasted coconut, the visual impact is stunning!

This is a thin volume of amazing recipes by a master chef. This volume rounded up my collection of Chandra Padmanabhan's cookbooks. It is filled with amazing recipes from South India, like this one. Each recipe is absolutely delicious, stays true to the core of the native cuisine and is always a crowd pleaser. I will highly recommend this, and all her other, cookbooks as a must have for South Indian cuisine.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


1/4 cup fresh coconut, either very small dice or grated

1 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon split urad dal

8-10 curry leaves

1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into micro diced, about the size of a match head

2-3 green chilies, micro diced, about the size of a match head

1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2-3 tablespoons jaggery

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

Salt, to taste

7 cups water

Toast the grated coconut on a frying pan till dry and colored to a light golden. Remove from the pan to stop the cooking and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pot and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, about 20 seconds add the dal and curry leaves and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and the green chilies and cook on a low flame for about 3 minutes, till the ginger no longer tastes raw and is lightly caramelised.

Add the chili powder, turmeric and give a good mix. Add the jaggery, tamarind, salt and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes till the tamarind no longer tastes raw. Taste and adjust salt, sour with tamarind, sweet with jaggery and spice with chili powder. The rasam should be well balanced, a strong flavor of ginger, and the spice, tartness and sweet should be balanced.

Serve hot. For a more contemporary serving, rim a glass with toasted coconut flakes and garnish with a green chili and a slice of ginger.

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