Rasam and rice is our favorite meal combination. With my South Indian roots, a rasam-rice combination is always a comforting meal. So, a rasam is one of those dishes that I often make at home. This Garlic Rasam, regionally known as Poondu Rasam is one of the variations I prepare. It is a spicy, tangy rasam with a tempering of garlic, herbs and spices.
About Garlic Rasam
The Garlic Rasam is one of the popular rasam variations in South India. This hot and garlicky version is traditionally named as Poondu Rasam in the cuisine of Tamil Nadu. Obviously, as ‘garlic’ is referred to as ‘poondu or puntu’ in Tamil language.
A classic Rasam is primarily a thin and clearish soup like preparation, made in a South Indian style. The primary ingredients that form a part of any rasam are usually spices, some lentils, tomato and tamarind. The use of tamarind gives a rasam the significant tang.
The same goes for this Poondu Rasam too. One of the primary ingredients in this recipe is also tamarind, the pulp of which is added to the liquid base for the typical flavor.
In addition to this, other ingredients that are added in this Garlic Rasam are of course garlic, black pepper, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, tomatoes, turmeric powder, asafoetida (hing) and coriander leaves.
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a tamarind pulp which is added in the recipe. I prefer making my own tamarind pulp at home by soaking seedless tamarind in hot water and then squeezing out the extract into the water.
If you don’t have time, you can even use readymade tamarind pulp. In that case, beware of the quantity as you don’t want your Poondu Rasam to become extremely sour.
I also use sesame oil for the tempering of this Garlic Rasam. In case you don’t have this particular oil, you can use any neutral flavored oil for this rasam recipe.
I make this Poondu Rasam as well as many other varieties of rasams on a regular basis. Especially, when the weather is rainy or during the cold winter season, rasams are a hot favorite with everyone at my home.
This Garlic Rasam or any other rasam is a great home remedy for treating coughs and colds. So, a rasam is a default choice for such days too. I also make rasam on those days, when I want to make a quick, spicy and an easy dish with rice.
This Poondu Rasam does not make use of the readymade rasam powder and cooked dal (lentils). The coarsely ground spice mixture that is a part of this recipe is what is there in the dish, in place of the rasam powder.
With this Garlic Rasam, I usually serve steamed rice, a veggie roast or any veggie poriyal like Carrot Poriyal or Beetroot Poriyal. But both steamed rice and rasam is such a comforting meal, that you may not need to have any side dish. You can even drink it plain like a soup.
How to make Garlic Rasam
Make Tamarind Pulp
1. Heat ½ cup water and soak 1 tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind in it. Cover and keep aside for 20 minutes.
2. After 20 minutes, squeeze the softened tamarind very well in the water. Keep this tamarind pulp aside.
Make Rasam Spice Mixture
3. While the tamarind is soaking, add 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 to 3 peeled garlic cloves and 2 dried red chilies (broken and deseeded) in a small dry grinder or spice grinder.
4. Grind to a coarse mixture. Keep aside.
5. Crush lightly 8 to 10 medium garlic cloves with or without peels in a mortar-pestle.
Make Garlic Rasam
6. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil (gingelly oil) in a pan or pot. Add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and ½ teaspoon urad dal.
7. Sauté on low heat till the mustard seeds crackle and the urad dal turns to a maroonish color.
8. Then, add 8 to 10 curry leaves, 1 to 2 dried red chilies and the crushed garlic.
9. On low heat sauté till the garlic turns light brown.
10. Then, add 1 small to medium chopped or crushed tomato, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida (hing).
11. Stir and sauté till the tomatoes soften on medium-low heat.
12. Add the prepared rasam spice mixture, stir very well and sauté on low heat for a minute.
13. Now, add the prepared tamarind pulp and 1.5 to 2 cups water. Season with salt. While adding tamarind pulp, directly strain it with a tea strainer in the pan.
14. On medium heat, simmer the Garlic Rasam for 5 to 6 minutes.
15. When done, switch off the heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves.
16. Serve Garlic Rasam hot with some steamed rice. You can also drink it like a soup.
- Use seedless tamarind to make the tamarind pulp. You can reduce the quantity of tamarind pulp for a less sour taste in the rasam.
- If the tamarind has some impurities, make sure to strain it first and then use the extract.
- You can use sesame oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil or any other neutral flavored oil in this recipe.
- If you are ok with a non-vegan variety of rasam, you can even use ghee (clarified butter) for the tempering.
- You can make a gluten free version of this rasam by skipping the asafoetida or using a gluten free asafoetida instead.
- Adding some chopped coriander leaves in this rasam brings in an extra freshness. However, if you wish to skip adding it, you can do that too.
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Garlic Rasam | Poondu Rasam
This Garlic Rasam, regionally known as Poondu Rasam is one of the rasam variations that is a spicy and tangy. It is made with sour tamarind, tangy tomato, lots of garlic, fresh herbs and robust spices.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
For coarsely ground rasam spice mixture
For tempering and other ingredients
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Preparing tamarind pulp
Heat ½ cup water and soak 1 tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind in it. Cover and keep aside for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, squeeze the softened tamarind very well in the water. Keep this tamaraind pulp aside.
Preparing ground rasam spice mix and prepping
When the tamarind is soaking, make the ground rasam spice mix. Add black pepper, cumin seeds, peeled garlic cloves and dry red chilies (broken and deseeded) in a small dry grinder or spice grinder.
Grind to a coarse mixture. Keep aside.
Crush lightly 8 to 10 garlic with or without peels in a mortar-pestle. Chop or crush the tomato.
Seasoning and making garlic rasam
Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a pan or pot. Keep heat to a low. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal.
Sauté till the mustard seeds crackle and the urad dal turns to a maroonish color. Sauté on a low heat.
Then add 8 to 10 curry leaves, 1 to 2 dry red chilies and the crushed garlic.
Sauté till the garlic turns light brown on low heat.
Then add the tomato (chopped or crushed). Also add turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida.
Stir and sauté on medium-low heat till the tomatoes soften.
Add the prepared ground rasam spice mix. Stir very well and sauté for a minute on a low heat.
Now add the prepared tamarind pulp and 1.5 to 2 cups water. Season with salt according to taste.
On a medium heat, simmer the rasam for 5 to 6 minutes. While adding tamarind pulp, directly strain it with a tea strainer in the pan.
When done, switch off the heat and add chopped coriander leaves.
Serve Garlic Rasam hot with some steamed rice. You can also drink it as a soup.
- You can also opt to add less amounts of garlic if you prefer.
- Tomato can be given a skip.
- You can decrease the tangy taste, by adding less tamarind.
Garlic Rasam | Poondu Rasam
Amount Per Serving
Calories 91 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Vitamin A 604IU12%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.1mg7%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.04mg2%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 31mg155%
Vitamin B6 0.2mg10%
Vitamin C 63mg76%
Vitamin E 0.4mg3%
Vitamin K 8µg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 322µg81%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Garlic Rasam recipe from the archives, first published in August 2015 has been updated and republished on January 2023.