Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

by | Feb 21, 2011
Dosa's Rasam

Dosa's Rasam

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing this top secret recipe from the kitchen of one of my favorite restaurants, Dosa. I recently highlighted this recipe in an article I wrote about lentils and their health benefits for Edible SF, where you can read more about the soup.

Dosa owner Anjan Mitra is very protective of his recipes and I am eternally grateful to him for sharing this one for rasam, a spicy lentil soup. If you have a minute please stop by and thank him on Twitter (@dosasf) and Facebook.

If you’ve never explored Indian cooking, it’s a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with new spices and feel like a culinary badass. These recipes never cease to impress, and as much as I adore (and rely on) simple recipes, it’s fun to try something a little more challenging every now and then.

The hardest part of this recipe will be tracking down some of the more elusive ingredients. While the majority of the spices can be found at a regular grocery store, a few ingredients may require a trip to an Indian grocery or specialty store. For more info on the ingredients, check out my last article on rasam ingredients.

A few notes before you begin:

  1. You’ll need a spice grinder. A coffee grinder will work, but you’ll need to clean it well before using it again for coffee.
  2. Curry leaves are not necessary if you can’t locate them, but do not attempt to substitute curry powder.
  3. The better quality tomatoes you use, the better the recipe will turn out.
  4. This is meant to be spicy, but you can adjust the spice level depending on your tolerance by switching up the type and number of chilies you use.
  5. The lentils and the tamarind each require a 1 hr soak before cooking, so plan accordingly.
  6. Since some of the ingredients are difficult to find, once you have them you can make a large batch and freeze the rest in quart-sized containers.

Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

© DOSA May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission

Approximately 8 portions.  Naturally vegan & gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. Toor dal (lentils) aka Pigeon Peas, available at most Indian grocery stores
  • 4 Organic red tomatoes cut and blended
  • 1 1/2 sq. inch Tamarind pulp (usually sold in blocks)
  • 1/2 Organic lemon
  • 1/4 c. Chopped cilantro
  • 6 Cloves of garlic
  • 5 Dried red chilies
  • 6-8 Fresh curry leaves (leave out if you can’t find them, do not use “curry powder”)
  • 4 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp Whole black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp Asafetida (This stuff is very potent so don’t overdo it. Gluten-free versions with rice-flour are available.)
  • 10-11 c. Water
  • 1-2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt

Preparation:

Tamarind

  1. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of water for 1 hour.

Toor dal

  1. Soak to the Toor Dal in 1 cup of water for 1 hour.
  2. Add 5 additional cups to the Toor dal and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on a medium flame or until grains are very soft and blending with the water. (Note from Darya: this took closer to 30 minutes for me)
  3. Let it cool for 5 mins, then blend the Toor dal with the water. (Note from Darya: a hand blender works well)

Garlic

  1. Crush whole garlic and grind into a paste (Note from Darya: use mortar and pestle or back of wooden spoon)

Powdered Spice Mixture

  1. Grind cumin, peppercorn and coriander seeds. It can stay relatively coarse, but should be fine enough to drink in the soup.
  2. You can use a coffee grinder, however, be sure to clean it thoroughly after use.

Tomatoes

  1. Cut and blend the tomatoes into a pulp. (Note from Darya: use a food processor or blender)

Cooking:

**Have all your ingredients ready since some of these steps are relatively quick

  1. Add a minimal amount of oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot.  Turn to medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dried red chiles and curry leaves.
  3. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes. You’ll get the aromatic flavors of these ingredients.
  4. Add asafetida and keep stirring for another 30 seconds.  This has a very strong aroma of onion and garlic so make sure you don’t add too much.
  5. Add turmeric and crushed garlic paste. Lower the flame slightly and keep stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn. Stir for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the raw garlic flavor has dissipated.
  6. Add the fresh tomato pulp.
  7. Add tamarind pulp with the water in which it’s been soaking.
  8. Stir and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on a medium flame.
  9. Add the powdered spice mixture.
  10. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on a medium flame.
  11. Stir intermittently. You’ll notice the aromatic flavors of the spices.
  12. Add the blended Toor dal (lentil) and stir.
  13. Add remaining water about 2 to 3 cups. You can add more or less water depending on how thin or thick you would like the soup. It’s flavorful enough to be served relatively thin.
  14. Add cilantro.
  15. Add salt.
  16. Squeeze 1/2 an organic lemon.
  17. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir intermittently. Do NOT boil or cook. When it starts to froth you’re done.
  18. Check salt and add to taste if needed. (Note from Darya: I added an extra 1/4 tsp to get the same taste as at the restaurant)

Serving:

  • This nutritious and flavorful soup has a grainy and coarse texture as a result of the coarsely blended spices.
  • Stir the pot before ladling the soup into a cup as the spices will settle to the bottom.
  • Serve hot and garnish with cilantro.
  • It can be drunk straight from a cup or even eaten with rice.
  • You won’t even notice it’s vegan and gluten-free!

HUGE thanks to Anjan and Dosa for sharing this amazing recipe.

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11 Responses to “Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe”

  1. Madhu says:

    That is one spicy recipe. I make Rasam sometimes but in a slightly different way. I will surely try out your recipe next time I make it.

  2. Chris says:

    The recipe is long but I think most of the time is the prep, the end result is worth it. I wish I could make it today.

  3. Shyla says:

    Wow, that’s so awesome that you got this delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing … beautiful blog!

  4. Looks awesome. I’m just now starting to think I can cook Indian. I made tandoori chicken back in December, but I love having this top secret recipe.

  5. Rajappa Iyer says:

    As a south Indian, I can say that this recipe is quite authentic with the caveat that garlic is not usually included. But being a garlic fan, I heartily approve of its inclusion. You can cut down on the time dramatically though — if you plan to cook lentils on a regular basis, you owe it to yourself to get a pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker, you can cook lentils like toor dal in about 15 to 20 minutes total and that too without needing to soak the lentils beforehand. Also, you can dramatically cut down the soak time for tamarind by soaking it in hot water — 15 minutes should do nicely here as well. One last note: traditionally in South India, the dal is not blended — it’s mashed, but still retains its identity. After you’ve made the rasam, the lentils sink to the bottom and the thin broth on top is quite delicious. One could consume the broth as a soup and have the heavier part dominated by lentils with rice.

  6. Great post. Any insight on the different nutritional values of lentils would be great. -www.suzyeats.com

  7. Amazing find and recipe. Thanks for getting it for us! Looks really spectacular!

  8. Peggy says:

    That fire broth sounds like the “new” chicken noodle soup! I’m sure it would clear the sinuses in seconds!

  9. Carol says:

    Hey! This looks delicious. My family is South Indian. Rasam is one of my favorite things. I’ve only seen it used as a soup at Indian restaurants. We usually use rasam as a curry – we pour it over rice at home.

  10. Rainier Wolfcastle says:

    Made a double recipe tonight, except tripled the toor dal and increased both soaking and added water accordingly. Delicious! Don’t know as I would call it “fire” broth, but then I’m a chilehead. Suffice to say it didn’t make me sweat or make my nose run, not even remotely close. I used dried chiles from my local Indian grocery labeled “South Indian”, so I figure that it appropriate.

    We did the trick recommended by a previous South Indian commenter: After it was done I let it sit for ~15 minutes to allow the solids to settle mostly to the bottom, then served the broth on top as a soup, followed by the rest atop rice as a curry. Both were outstanding.

    We can’t make it to Dosa on Saturday (our next trip to SF), but I’m going to go there at my earliest convenience and try the real thing. I adore South Indian cuisine.

    Thank you for the recipe!

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