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For the Love of Food

by | Mar 6, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week Brazil puts America to shame, your grandparents spent more on food than you, and the scientific reason Indian food is so damn good.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

by | May 18, 2011
Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

Today’s guest recipe is by Boston Globe writer, Allison Boomer. A big lentil fan, she recommends using either Red Chief or Petite Crimson lentils from Zürun.

Her last recipe contribution to Summer Tomato was also a huge hit:

French Green Lentils Roasted With Carrots And Beets

Allison is an artisanal food expert, marketing professional, writer and nutritionist. She partners with people and businesses who share a passion for handcrafted food. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook.

Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

Serves 6-8

by Allison Boomer


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound (2 cups) red lentils, rinsed with cool water and sorted to remove any small stones
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon

1. In soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2. Stir in the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

3. Add the stock, water, lentils, carrots, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, partially cover the pan, and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

4. Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and chili powder, if you like.

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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.


  • 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



  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)


  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.


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


**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)


  • 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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Rain Day: Jai Ho Indian Grocery

by | Feb 20, 2011
Rasam Ingredients

Rasam Ingredients

The rain didn’t let up yesterday, so rather than face the cold wet farmers market I decided to visit the Jai Ho Indian grocery store to pick up some ingredients I can’t find at my normal spots.

Jai Ho was recommended to me by Anjan Mitra, a friend and owner of San Francisco’s premier South Indian restaurant Dosa. I’m a huge fan of Dosa and recently interviewed Anjan for an article about lentils and their health benefits I wrote for Edible SF.

Indian Groceries

Dry Goods

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

I’m delighted to report that Anjan was nice enough to share his amazing Rasam “fire broth” recipe for lentil soup, which I’ll publish here at Summer Tomato tomorrow.

Today I want to share some of the ingredients that go into the soup, since they may not be familiar to those of you who don’t have experience cooking Indian food.

Toor Dal

Toor Dal

The soup is based on a type of lentil (“dal” in Hindi) called toor dal, or pigeon peas. Toor dal are medium sized yellow lentils that fall apart easily when cooked through. You should be able to find them at any Indian grocery store.

The recipe also calls for wet tamarind pulp, the kind sold in blocks. The one I got actually had chunks of stems in there, which I had to pick out.



Wet Tamarind

Wet Tamarind

Asafetida is a potent smelling herb that comes in powder form. This was the first time I had worked with it so I had to check Wikipedia to see exactly what it is. Apparently asafetida is also known as “devil’s dung” but, ironically, is a known antiflatulent. How have I never heard of this stuff?



The only other ready ground spice used in the recipe is turmeric, which some research suggests may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can find ground turmeric at any grocery store.

Dried Chilies

Dried Chilies

As you might expect, the soup calls for several sources of heat. The first are dried red chili peppers. I used my own Thai dragon peppers I dried last summer, but any form of red chili works here.

Whole Black Peppercorns

Whole Black Peppercorns

Some of the heat also comes from a generous portion of black peppercorns, which are ground together with several other spices that form the main flavors of the soup.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

The other spices in the mixture are cumin and coriander seeds. Mustard seeds are also called for, though these are added whole and are not ground with the other spices.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds

One of the hardest to find ingredients for the recipe is fresh curry leaves. The recipe is very explicit that if you cannot find them you should leave them out and under no circumstances substitute ground curry powder. I was able to find fresh leaves at Jai Ho, and their flavor was more subtle than I expected.

Fresh Curry Leaves

Fresh Curry Leaves

And of course, don’t forget your garlic.



Stay tuned tomorrow for Dosa’s rasam recipe.

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