Udupi Style Rasam

Rasam is a lentil and tamarind based broth similar to soup but the spices used in making the rasam makes it truly delectable. Rasam is one of the components of Karnataka style thali. Thali is basically an assortment of vegetable stir fries, sambar, papad, pickle, chutney and a deep fried item or two. 

Udupi rasam or saaru as it is called locally is quite popular and prized for the spices used. Udupi Krishna Mutt/ temple has a communal dining hall for all the devotees and the thali served there everyday has rasam as one of the delicacies. 

One of my uncles (who is no more now) always had rasam for lunch and dinner and whenever he visited us amma would diligently prepare the special concoction for him. Everytime I make rasam I’m definitely reminded of him.

The taste quotient comes from the rasam powder and it varies from one household to the other in terms of proportion or ingredient. This is my amma’s recipe and this is one of the closest in terms of taste and authenticity.  Rasam can be served with a side or stir fry for a weeknight dinner and it makes a perfect meal. Serving it on banana leaf makes it all the more festive and special which is more like my style.

On to Udupi style saaru…



Prep Time

30 minutes

Cook Time

20-25 minutes

Total Time

About 40-45 minutes

  • ¼ cup arhar dal or pigeon peas, soaked
  • Few pinches of turmeric +½ tsp
  • ½ tsp salt + ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 3 tbsp tamarind soaked in 1 cup of water
  •  2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Water as needed to make rasam
  • For rasam powder:
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 8-10 red chilies, byadagi variety
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ⅛ tsp fresh asafetida or powder
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • For seasoning:
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 whole red chilies
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1-2 tsp oil



Step 1
To make rasam powder dry roast red chilies for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside. Now dry roast the rest of the ingredients mentioned under rasam powder for 4-5 minutes. Cool and grind to a fine powder along with the red chilies.

Step 2
Cook dal with ½ tsp salt and a few pinches of turmeric. When cooked whisk well and keep aside.

Step 3
Extract tamarind water and throw the residue. In a pan add the tamarind water, diced tomato, ¾ tsp salt, ½ tsp turmeric and cook until it starts to boil. 

Step 4
Add the cooked dal to the pan and boil for 3-4 minutes. Add rasam powder and chopped cilantro. Add more water if necessary, rasam is thinner in consistency like that of a soup.

Step 5
To season the rasam, heat oil in a seasoning pan add red chilies, mustard and curry leaves. When the seasoning splutters pour on the rasam and serve hot with steamed rice, ghee and papad.


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The famous proverb "you are what you eat” as quoted by the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is very true. Food nourishes you from the inside out. Good health is of utmost importance to me. Vegetarianism and Veganism are gaining immense popularity these days. Natural, organic, healthy and homemade is my mantra.

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