Udupi-Style Tomato Rasam

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Tomato rasam (Udupi saaru) is a delightfully tangy and spicy concoction that is often served with rice or savored as is. Learn how to make this simple yet tantalizing soup in your Instant Pot effortlessly. 

Udupi rasam served in a glass bowl
Udupi Rasam

Rasam (meaning juice or essence) is a popular lentil-based soup from the southern part of India where it is often served with mounds of rice. I may be biased because of my south Indian roots, but I would choose this rasam over dal any day because just like the Thai soup – Tom Yum, it is spicy, tangy and mind-blowingly delicious. 

Why you will love this recipe

This is undoubtedly the best rasam I have had – it has a nice tangy flavor and I can gulp down bowlfuls without hesitation.  It is also one of my mom’s recipes, who with some trial and error came up with this kickass recipe after she tasted this version of the dish in a temple. 

Here are a few reasons this dish makes a constant appearance on our dinner table – 

  1. Easy Instant pot recipe – All you need to do is add all the ingredients to the pressure cooker and set the timer. 
  2. The perfect balance of flavors – spicy and tangy with a hint of sweetness.
  3. Tastes delicious as a soup or when accompanied with rice.

Fun fact

Did you know Rasam, also called molaghu tanni (or pepper water), is the inspiration behind mulligatawny soup?

The story goes that in the 18th century the Indian cooks working in British homes and clubs modified the rasam recipe to satisfy the need of the East India Company officials to have a soup before a meal. Read more about it in this article – Mulligatawny – The soup of an Empire.

Instant Pot filled with Rasam
Instant Pot Tomato Rasam

How to make rasam in your Instant Pot

Here’s what you need to know about tomato rasam – there is no set recipe, and every South Indian home has its own version. Since we hail from Karnataka, this version is similar to the rasam or saaru that you’ll find in Udupi restaurants.

If you don’t have certain ingredients, like tamarind, don’t let that stop you from making this dish. I have shared easily available substitutions below. 

Shopping list (Ingredients + Equipment)

Here’s where to get the ingredients and tools used in this recipe.

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links which means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

List of ingredients

Ingredients for tempering

Tools

Electric pressure cooker, such as Instant Pot or Mealthy or a stove-top pressure cooker. 

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A collage of images showing how to make rasam
Instant Pot Rasam – Step by Step

Instructions

  1. If using fresh tamarind, soak it in 1/2 cup of hot water for about 10 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients. Strain to obtain the juice and discard the tamarind flesh. If using tamarind paste, skip this step.
  2. Add dal, tomatoes, tamarind juice (from step 1) or paste, turmeric powder, green chilies, chili powder, jaggery and salt along with 4 cups of water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot. Mix well.
  3. Select “Pressure Cook.” Adjust the time to 12 minutes and set the pressure selection to high. Cover the Instant Pot lid and lock it. Make sure the vent is at sealing position.
  4. Once the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 10 minutes before releasing pressure.
  5. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, follow the same steps as listed for Instant Pot. Cook on medium-high heat and wait for the vent/whistle to go off 3-4 times. Take it off heat and let the cooker cool down before you open the cover.

Tempering process

  1. Add oil or ghee to the tadka pan kept over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter, add urad dal, garlic cloves and a sprig of curry leaves.
  3. Let them sizzle for about 10 seconds and then pour this mixture over the rasam.
  4. Garnish with cilantro and mix well.

Notes

  1. If using fresh tamarind, take chunks of tamarind from the package and roll into a ball. The ball should be approximately the size of a ping pong/golf ball (approximately 1.5 inches in diameter). Soak it in 1/2 cup hot water for about 10 minutes before use. You can also substitute fresh tamarind with 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste or a tablespoon of lime juice.
  2. Don’t have rasam powder? Replace it with a tablespoon of coriander powder, a teaspoon of cumin powder, a teaspoon of ground peppercorns and a teaspoon of chili powder.
  3. The ghee tempering makes this dish aromatic and adds to the flavor, but if you are vegan, feel free to substitute it with coconut or olive oil. 
An overhead shot of rasam served in a glass bowl
Rasam

Need more lentil-based recipes? Here are a few of my favorites – 

  1. Dal palak – This mildly spiced, creamy version of Spinach and Tomato Dal (Dal Palak) makes for a delicious and nutritious main course served with hot cooked rice.
  2. Dal fry – This recipe for Dal Fry is very close to my heart because it comes from my mom’s kitchen. This is my humble attempt to recreate the hearty and lip-smacking dal my mom makes at home.
  3. Tadka dal – One pot recipes are the best! That’s why you’ll love this Tadka dal (tempered dal) recipe – make it in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker – and you’ll have your meal ready in no time.
  4. Dal makhani – You’ve got to try this creamy and delicious Punjabi lentil curry that graces the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide. Learn how to replicate the flavors of this traditionally slow-cooked curry quickly in an Instant Pot. 
  5. Sambar – Make this tangy and mildly spicy lentil-vegetable stew from the southern part of India and serve it alongside idlis or dosas for a wholesome breakfast. 


Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker -  
Udupi rasam served in a glass bowl

Udupi Style Rasam

5 from 5 votes
Rasam is a lentil-based curry full of tang and flavor. Drink it as a soup or serve it rice - you'll enjoy it either way.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Pressure building time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 6
Diet : Dairy-free
Course : Main Course
Method: Pressure cooker
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

  • ½ tablespoon tamarind paste , or fresh tamarind, size of a small lime
  • ½ cup hot water, for soaking fresh tamarind
  • 4 tablespoons moong dal , toor dal
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, diced (~1 cup chopped tomatoes)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons homemade rasam powder, or MTR brand
  • 1-2 Indian or Thai green chilies (Bird's eye), slit lengthwise
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • 2 tablespoons powdered jaggery
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the tempering / tadka

For garnish

  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • If using fresh tamarind, soak it in 1/2 cup of hot water for about 10 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients. Strain to obtain the juice and discard the tamarind flesh. If using tamarind paste, skip this step.
  • Add dal, tomatoes, tamarind juice (from step 1) or paste, turmeric powder, rasam powder, green chilies, chili powder, jaggery and salt along with 4 cups of water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot. Mix well.
  • Select “Pressure Cook.” Adjust the time to 12 minutes and set the pressure selection to high. Cover the Instant Pot lid and lock it. Make sure the vent is at sealing position.
  • Once the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 10 minutes before releasing pressure.
  • If using a stovetop pressure cooker, follow the same steps as listed for Instant Pot. Cook on medium-high heat and wait for the vent/whistle to go off 3-4 times. Take it off heat and let the cooker cool down before you open the cover.

Tempering process

  • Add oil or ghee to the tadka pan kept over medium-heat. 
  • When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter, add urad dal, garlic cloves and a sprig of curry leaves. 
  • Let them sizzle for about 10 seconds and then pour this mixture over the rasam.
  • Garnish with cilantro and mix well. 

Notes

  1. If using fresh tamarind, take chunks of tamarind from the package and roll into a ball. The ball should be approximately the size of a ping pong/golf ball (approximately 1.5 inches in diameter). Soak it in 1/2 cup hot water for about 10 minutes before use. You can also substitute fresh tamarind with 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste or a tablespoon of lime juice.
  2. Don't have rasam powder? Replace it with a tablespoon of coriander powder, a teaspoon of cumin powder, a teaspoon of ground peppercorns and a teaspoon of chili powder.
  3. The ghee tempering makes this dish aromatic and adds to the flavor, but if you are vegan, feel free to substitute it with coconut or olive oil. 

Pantry EssentialsGetting the right tools for your kitchen makes cooking more enjoyable and less frustrating. Here's a list of kitchen essentials I own and recommend.

Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 93kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 453mgPotassium: 63mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 240IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Did you make this recipe?Take a photo and tag @simmertoslimmer on Instagram for a shoutout!
Keyword : Lentil soup, South Indian Lentil Soup, Udupi Rasam

This recipe was originally posted on August 13th, 2013 and has been completely updated with pictures, step by step photos on 9th April 2020. 

Rasam Final copy

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks delicious! And I love rasam over most kinds of dal too. I think it is the south Indian bias. 🙂

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