While your regular soups are usually full-bodied and thick, which may also have a lot of veggies and/or proteins, etc., a typical South Indian Rasam is thin and more nutritious version. Within South India also, there are many varieties of rasam, like this Milagu Rasam. So, basically it is a Pepper Rasam which is a tangy and spicy variation made with black pepper, tomatoes, tamarind and other spices. Thus, great for curing stubborn colds, coughs during winters. The recipe is simple, vegan and comforting too.
About Milagu Rasam
Firstly, ‘Milagu’ is the Tamil word for ‘Pepper’ and ‘Rasam’ is the Tamil word with its origin in the Sanskrit word ‘rasa,’ meaning ‘extract, juice or essence.’
Hence, this rasam variety is rightly named as Milagu Rasam as one of the primary ingredients in its spicy mix is black peppercorns, which is further simmered in a tempered mixture of juices of tamarind and tomato.
Making any rasam is not rocket science. And same is the case with this Pepper Rasam too. Other than the black pepper, tomatoes and tamarind, the rest of the ingredients too are the basic ones that are always available in any Indian home pantry.
You also don’t need the special Rasam Powder in this recipe of Milagu Rasam. The spice powders used in it are turmeric powder and red chili powder, again the quintessential spices that you will have at home, at all times.
Your maximum time will go in soaking the tamarind to get the pulp from it. Apart from this, it really doesn’t take a long time to cook the Pepper Rasam.
You can serve this pepper-spiked rasam as a classic combination with steamed rice and some pappadums, or have it as a soup or an appetizer.
For everyone at my home, rasam-rise happens to be as favorite as the dal-rice or sambar-rice combo. Hence, I make it pretty often too.
This Milagu Rasam is not just one of the varieties that is our preferred choice at home, but also an essential during the winter season because it treats coughs and colds super well.
This Milagu Rasam is a well-known variation from the cuisine of Tamil Nadu. However, other regional versions include a ‘Miriyala Charu’ from Andhra Pradesh, ‘Menasina Saaru’ from Karnataka and ’Kurumuluku Rasam’ in Kerala.
As I mentioned earlier, the recipe of Pepper Rasam does not make use of rasam powder. All you need are some Indian herbs and spices.
I have added garlic in this preparation, as I feel it enhances the earthy flavor. However, you can skip garlic, if you want.
How to make Pepper Rasam
Prepare Tamarind Pulp
1. Take ½ tablespoon tightly packed tamarind.
2. Soak the tamarind in ¼ cup warm water for 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Once the tamarind is soaked, squeeze it to get the pulp. Strain and keep aside.
Prepare Pepper and Spices Mix
4. Take 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 4 to 5 medium garlic cloves (peeled or with their skins) in a mortar.
5. With a pestle, coarsely crush the spices. Keep aside. You can also use a small grinder to coarsely crush the spices.
Make Milagu Rasam
6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan or pot. Lower heat, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.
7. Then, add 2 dried red chilies (seeds removed) and a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing). Stir and sauté till the red chilies change color. Do not burn them.
8. Add 2 small tomatoes, which have been crushed (about ½ cup crushed tomatoes) and 10 to 12 curry leaves.
Instead of crushed tomatoes, you can also add ½ cup chopped tomatoes.
9. Stir and sauté till the tomatoes turn pulpy and soft.
10. Then, add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon red chili powder. Red chili powder is optional.
11. Now, add the prepared black pepper and spices mix.
12. Stir and mix well.
13. Then, add prepared tamarind pulp.
14. Add 2 cups water and mix again.
15. Season with salt.
16. Simmer Pepper Rasam on low to medium heat till the raw aroma of tamarind goes away. Cook for about 9 to 10 minutes.
17. Cover and allow to stand for 5 to 7 minutes. Lastly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves.
18. Serve Milagu Rasam hot with steamed rice and a side veggie stir fry. You can garnish it with some chopped coriander, leaves if you want.
- If you don’t have a mortar-pestle, then you can use a small grinder to crush the spices coarsely.
- Instead of adding crushed tomatoes to this recipe, you can also add ½ cup chopped tomatoes.
- This rasam is quite spicy. However, you can adjust the quantities of pepper, red chilies and cumin, according to your preferences.
- Both garlic and red chili powder are optional in this recipe. You can skip adding these.
- Other options for oil that you can use for this recipe are sunflower oil or peanut oil. If you don’t want to keep the recipe vegan, then you can also use ghee (clarified butter).
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Milagu Rasam | Pepper Rasam
For tamarind pulp
- ½ tablespoon tamarind – tightly packed
- ¼ cup warm water
To be crushed coarsely
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves – medium-sized, peeled or with their skins
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (can also use sunflower or peanut oil)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves or 10 to 12 curry leaves – kept whole or chopped
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 2 dry red chilies – crowns and seeds removed
- 2 tomatoes – small, crushed or 85 grams or ½ cup crushed or chopped tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper – optional
- 2 cups water
- salt as required
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped
Preparing tamarind pulp
- Soak the tamarind in warm water for 25 to 30 minutes
- Then squeeze the soaked tamarind to get the pulp. Strain and keep aside.
To make the spice mix
- Whilst the tamarind is soaking, crush coarsely black peppercorns, cumin seeds and garlic cloves (peeled or with their skins) in a mortar-pestle. You can also use a small grinder to coarsely crush these spices.
Making milagu rasam
- Heat oil in a pan or pot. Keep heat to a low. Add mustard seeds first and let them crackle.
- Then add the dry red chilies and asafoetida. Stir and saute till the red chilies change color. Do not burn them.
- Next add crushed tomatoes and curry leaves. You can also add chopped tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes.
- Stir and sauté on low to medium-low heat till the tomatoes become pulpy and soft.
- Then add turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
- Now add the coarsely crushed mix of black pepper + cumin + garlic.
- Stir and mix well. Next add the prepared tamarind pulp. Also 2 cups water and mix again. Season with salt according to taste.
- Simmer on a low to medium heat till the raw aroma of tamarind goes away. Cook for about a total of 9 to 10 minutes.
- Cover and allow milagu rasam to stand for 5 to 7 minutes. Then lastly add the chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve the Pepper Rasam plain or accompanied with rice, sambar and a side vegetable stir fry.
- For a less spicier version, add less black pepper and red chillies.
- Instead of crushed tomatoes, you can use chopped tomatoes or pureed tomatoes.
- You can opt to skip garlic if you prefer.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Pepper Rasam from the archives, originally published in June 2016 has been updated and republished on January 2023.