Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grandma's Rasam Powder

The rasam or saaru is a staple dish in our household. Considering how often I make this dish, this should have been my first post. The saaru Pudi or the rasam powder is one of the most resourceful condiment in my kitchen. Apart from making Rasam, I use the rasam powder to flavor stir-fries, gojjus and anything I can think of. I had tried adding this spice mix in pumpkin soup a long time ago and it had turned out awesome. You can find the recipe here.

Although the term Rasam and Saaru is used interchangeably, there is a world of a difference between them. The saaru is made mostly with pigeon peas or toor dal. Whereas the rasam, is made with the stock of any lentil that is cooked. The saaru or the rasam is basically a consommé type of soup that is ideally served with piping hot steamed rice and a dollop of ghee. Just pair this with a simple stir fry and a bowl of yogurt and you can be assured of a simple yet satisfying meal.

This recipe for the Saarina Pudi comes from my maternal grandmother or Ajji's Kitchen. As far as I am concerned, her saaru and sarina pudi were the best in the world. Whenever I make the Rasam Powder, I am always transported to my Ajji's tiny Kitchen. I can almost see her in a neatly draped sari and a big red Kumkum (vermilion dot) on her forehead, measuring all the ingredients. By measuring, I don't mean, measuring with cups and spoons. All her ingredients were eyeballed to exact measurements and the outcome was simply magical. Since, she eyeballed all the ingredients, she couldn't give out the recipe for the rasam powder with exact measurements. It took almost a year and at least a hundred phone calls to get the quantities right.

My ajji, considered the preparation of the Saaru pudi as a sacred event. I remember she would not make this powder on Tuesdays and Fridays. The times at dawn and dusk would be forbidden as well. Surprisingly, even I follow some of these rituals. 

The humble Rasam powder is known to have therapeutic properties. Coriander seeds, which is the main ingredient of this spice mix is believed to have antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Apart from that, the rasam powder as a whole is extremely beneficial for digestion and immune system. It helps keep the cold and cough at bay and it is known to aid sluggish metabolism. To me, the saaru is not only a delicious accompaniment to rice but also an appetizing health tonic.

In the days when ready made spice mixes line the shelves of every department store, making them at home might seem a daunting task. But once you start making these spice mixes at home, I assure you, you will not have it any other way. For nothing can be compared to the aroma and the flavor of the home made Saarina Pudi!!

Ajji's Rasam Powder Recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 30min
Makes-approximately 1-1/2 Kilo

Coriander seeds- 4 cups or 480ml
Cumin seeds- 1 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 cup
Black Pepper corns- 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 cup
Poppy seeds- 1-1/2 tbsp
Ghee or oil- 1tbsp
Curry leaves- 1 cup, loosely packed
Good Quality asafetida- 2tsp
Kashmiri red chilies- 14 cups, loosely packed

  • Remove the stalks from the red chilies, break them into pieces and keep aside.
  • In thick bottomed pan or wok, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, black pepper corns and poppy seeds separately one after another. Combine the ingredients after they are roasted.
  • Heat a tsp of ghee or oil in the same pan and add the curry leaves and fry till they turn crisp. Add the asafetida at this stage and fry for a few more seconds and take off the heat.
  • Heat the remaining ghee in the pan and add the red chilies and fry them on low heat. Do not let them burn. Fry till they are very hot to touch. Take off the heat and let it cool completely.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and grind them in a spice grinder or blender to a fine powder. Empty the ground powder to a large plate or tray and allow it to cool completely before storing it in air tight container.
  • My measuring cup measures 120ml.
  • I have used only Byadigi or Kashmiri red chilies in this recipes. But my grandmother always used a combination of guntur and Byadigi. If using guntur variety of chilies, then reduce the quantity to 12 to 13 cups.
  • Avoid roasting the ingredients together as it can lead to uneven roasting.
  • Avoid over roasting the red chilies as it can give out pungent, choking fumes. It can also change the taste of the spice mix.
  • You can consider cutting down the recipe to half if you do not make Rasam often.


  1. Your photographs are brilliant! The first one almost popped off my screen and I could taste your ajji's saavu pudi in my mouth. :)

  2. Brilliant photographs. Thanks for this wonderful post. i am too much interested in cooking and crazy to try new items. This is something different and interesting post. Expecting more and waiting for that :) Keep trying and sharing :)


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