Paruppu Rasam / South Indian Style Spiced Tomato Broth with Lentils

Hello! 🙂

If anybody asked me what my most favourite dish in the world is, I would say Rasam! For me, this comes on top of everything (yes, even curd rice ;)) and this version of Rasam, i.e., Paruppu Rasam is the best version of Rasam there ever is. This consists of a broth made out of tomatoes, tamarind extract and some spices. What makes this an all-rounder dish is that it has lentils (a good source of protein), freshly ground spices (pepper and cumin) which aid in digestion while burning fat, and fresh herbs (coriander and curry leaves) that give it a nice, clean and refreshing taste.


This Rasam brings back so many memories, as my friends always called me the ‘Rasam expert’ back in my UK days 🙂 I made this almost every weekend whenever I met them, and they enjoyed it every single time. They always wondered how I managed to make it without any Rasam powder in hand. For me, making Rasam at home definitely calls for these two essential ingredients: Pepper-cumin powder and Fresh Coriander. Yes, one can skip the curry leaves since the Rasam powder usually has it.

For the Rasam powder there are many options: (a) You can substitute sambar powder in place of Rasam powder, or (b) make a quick spice mix of these powders: 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp pepper powder or (c) Make a quick version of the Rasam powder by dry roasting 1 tsp toor dal, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp peppercorns and 1 tsp curry leaves! No matter which method you follow, you will need an extra dash of freshly roasted and ground pepper-cumin powder, and fresh coriander leaves (no compromise there)! Option (b) was what I mostly used when I lived in the UK, as these spice powders were readily available at every grocery store nearby.

One bowl of hot rice with this Rasam, and some ghee on top, (with some potato chips on the side, of course ;)) makes a complete meal by itself!


  • Tuvar/Toor/Arhar Dal- 1/4 cup
  • Tomatoes- 2 medium-sized, ripe
  • Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
  • Tamarind- about the size of a lemon
  • Rasam Powder- 2 or 3 tsp
  • Milagu Jeeraga Podi (Black pepper and Cumin seed powder)- 2 tsp
  • Fresh Coriander leaves- a bunch, to garnish
  • Rock salt- to taste

To temper

  • Ghee (Clarified Butter)- 2 tsp
  • Black Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves- a few
  • Dry Red Chillies- 1 or 2, depending on your taste
  • Asafoetida/hing- about 1/4 tsp


Cooking the Lentils

  1. Take about 1/4th of a cup of lentils (I used Toor dal) and wash them under running tap water well, until it runs clean.
  2. To this, add about 2 cups of water and pressure cook for about 4-5 whistles. as you can see, they have doubled in size. This gave me about half a cup of cooked dal.


Making the Rasam

  • In a pan, start by squeezing the tomatoes well so that it releases it’s juices. Alternatively, you could use chopped tomatoes, or tomato pureè for this recipe.
  • Prepare your tamarind extract by adding some hot water to the tamarind. Let it sit for 5 minutes so that it softens a little. then, mash this with your fingers to release the juice. Filter this and discard the pulp.
  • Add the extracted tamarind juice to the tomatoes. Heat the pan and bring this mixture to a rolling boil.


  • While this is boiling, add some turmeric powder.
  • The, the Rasam powder, or your prepared spice mix.
  • At this point, you can add about a teaspoon of salt as well.
  • Let it boil well for atleast 10 minutes. This will ensure all the raw smell disappears and the tomatoes are cooked well.


  • Meanwhile, drain the stock from the lentils and keep aside. Mash the lentils well with the help of a heavy ladle.
  • Now, add this stock to the boiling mixture followed by the mashed dal/lentils.
  • Add enough water and simmer this until you see a froth forming on top. Do NOT let this boil, as you will end up losing all the flavour and aroma of all the spices.


  • Add a dash of cumin-pepper powder- simply dry roast equal quantities of the two in a pan and crush (or grind) to a coarse powder. Then add salt, mix well and switch off the flame.
  • Lastly, garnish with roughly chopped coriander leaves (use the stems as well).



  • Heat about 2 tsp of ghee in a small pan. Make sure your flame is at its lowest setting.
  • Once hot, add the Asafoetida and immediately add in the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then, your cumin seeds.
  • Follow this up with some dry red chillies (break them so they release the heat) and fry until it changes colour slightly. Switch off the flame. Then, add your curry leaves and let them splutter and fry for a few seconds.
  • Finally, add the tempering to your Rasam and cover the pan immediately with a lid so it remains aromatic until you serve.


Serve hot with rice and some ghee on top! 😀

Try this and let us know how it went! 🙂



  • While cooking your dal/lentils, my mum usually makes sure to soak the lentils overnight before using them. Alternatively, you can soak it in boiling hot water for half an hour prior to pressure cooking them. However, you can also directly pressure cook them for an extra couple of whistles if you are pressed for time.
  • The dal/lentils need to be cooked really well. The mashed dal is what gives the paruppu rasam its taste. Some people use the lentil stock alone, but I prefer using the dal as well, as it really makes a big difference in terms of taste.
  • It is important to use ripe tomatoes, as they juice adds a lot of depth to the flavour of the rasam. I used regular farm tomatoes. If you are using local tomatoes (nati), then you can even skip the tamarind as they are sour enough.
  • Adding in very little jaggery in the end will really balance the whole dish, but it is optional.

8 thoughts on “Paruppu Rasam / South Indian Style Spiced Tomato Broth with Lentils

  1. This looks excellent. I just ate a few minutes ago and thanks to this post I’m hungry again.All the rasams I have tried before must have been made only with the lentil water. I like the idea of having the toor dal in as well – I imagine it makes it a little bit more filling (my only criticism of rasam is that it isn’t terribly filling). Of course another way to make it nice and filling is to put a couple of vada in it :-). Thanks for inspiring me to try making it at home instead of only having it out at restaurants!

    1. Hi Todd! Thanks for visiting our blog! I am so glad this post has inspired you to make this at home, thank you! 🙂 Rasam is usually meant to be very light on the stomach and is especially good for days when you have a fever or a cold. You could try adding some of the mashed lentils to the rice before mixing it with the rasam (this is the way I like to have it) and it is much more filling in my opinion! Also, not all Rasams are made with lentil water; some of them are made with tomatoes and/or tamarind alone, flavored differently and that is probably why they aren’t very filling. Let us know how it turns out for you! Happy cooking 🙂

      1. Thanks! That’s good to know. I can definitely see how rasam would be excellent when I had a cold. Up to now, Thai hot and sour soup was something I’d have when sick like that. The acidity and chilli heat seemed to be very helpful. I’ll definitely let you know! Thanks again!

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