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Rasam from the Saraswath community in Karnataka (Mangalore saar)

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

The Saraswath community are a group of Bhramins that lived along the Saraswati river in Kashmir, and migrated across India. This community are the group that migrated to Karnataka from Goa due to the invasion of the Moguls.

This rasam, called a saar, is beautifully flavored with out the deep spices. The broth is creamy from the ground lentils and the coconut, mildly spiced from the peppercorns and fenugreek seeds and tart from the tamarind. The flavors come together beautifully and should be in balance, without any of them overpowering the other. I serve this at the start of the meal to open my guests palates up and it also serves as a a great digestif.

This is another cookbook from Chandra Padmanabhan that I adore. The recipes are varied across the southern states in India and each recipe turns out very well. The recipes, like this one, are authentic and wonderfully flavored. This cookbook is for those who want to go beyond the ordinary and enjoy very localized cuisines from the South.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons split chana dal

2 tablespoons split urad dal

10 curry leaves

1 tablespoons grated fresh coconut

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon tamarind extract

Salt, to taste

8 cups water

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2teaspoon asafoetida

Cilantro, minced, to garnish

Dry roast all the dry ingredients individually in a pan till lighty toasted. Set aside to cool. Grind to a fine powder in a spice or coffee mill.

Add the spice powder to the coconut and curry leaves and add 1/4 cup water. Wet grind in a small blender till you have a smooth paste. You will have to grind the paste for sometime till the coconut is smooth.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the paste. Fry on low heat till the water has evaporated and the paste is aromatic and no longer smells raw.

Add the tamarind extract and stir for 1 minute. Add the salt and water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes till the tamarind no longer tastes raw.

Heat the oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fry till they begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add the asafoetida and take off the het and pour into the rasam. Taste and adjust salt.

Serve hot with with any meal.

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