Rasam Powder is the quintessential aromatic spice blend, which is one of the primary ingredients in a classic South Indian Rasam. This particular tangy, spiced thin soup will not be what it is, without the addition of this spice mixture. Also known as Rasam Podi, this masala blend has about 7 ingredients, which are roasted one after the other, and eventually ground together to a fine powder. There’s no rocket science in preparing it. Just follow my recipe to make a robust South Indian spice powder that’ll elevate the flavors of your rasam.
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More on Rasam Powder
If you are confused between Rasam Powder and rasam, then let me clear your confusion. Rasam is a sour soup or broth like beverage made with tamarind, spices, lentils and herbs. On the other hand, Rasam Powder is a ground spice mix that is added to the rasam to make it even more flavorful.
In the Tamil language, Rasam Powder is also referred to as Rasam Podi, where the word ‘podi’ means a ground powder. So, in case you come across any other spice mix with the suffix podi attached to it, know it means that the mixture is in the ground form.
All the ingredients of my Rasam Powder are just your basic spices and lentils that are common in any Indian home kitchen. So, it includes coriander seeds, chana dal (Bengal gram), tuvar or arhar dal (pigeon pea lentils), black peppercorns, cumin seeds, dried red chilies and turmeric powder (optional).
Adding Rasam Powder imparts more depths of flavor to the rasam, and also makes it nice and earthy. This masala powder can also be termed as a dry condiment while making this typical tangy soupy concoction.
My Rasam Powder recipe is so good that if you make any rasam with it, it will actually taste like an authentic South Indian one and not some plain tamarind broth or soup.
Rasam Powder Essentials
Just like the Garam Masala, which has many variations from region to region in India, there are many ways and variations of the Rasam Powder too. Every household has its own version with different proportions.
However, a basic Rasam Powder is made with 5 ingredients comprising of 4 spices and 1 lentil:
- Coriander seeds (sabut dhania) – One of the major ingredients which bring in warm and earthy tones.
- Cumin seeds (jeera) – On roasting, cumin seeds give mildly bitter tones.
- Black peppercorns (kali mirch) – Makes the spice mix pungent and sharp.
- Dried red chilies (sukhi lal mirch) – Red chilies not only give color, but also lend some heat and spice to the ground mixture.
- Pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal or arhar dal) – Makes the rasam powder nutty and earthy.
Apart from the above ingredients, you can also add chana dal (husked split Bengal gram), fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida (hing) to the recipe of Rasam Powder.
Making Rasam Powder
As I mentioned in the beginning, making Rasam Powder is fairly an easy task. There are 2 ways to go about its preparation:
- First method is by sun drying the spices.
- Second method is by roasting or toasting the spices.
I usually find the second method of roasting each ingredient one by one, better than the first one. The roasted spices give a good aroma to this specific spice mix.
However, one thing to keep in mind: whenever you add any roasted masala blend to any recipe, do not cook it more as the flavors get diminished. After adding the spice powder to the main recipe, just cook for some minutes. Make sure not to overcook.
Another thing is when you want to make the Rasam Powder in bulk. You can easily triple or quadruple this very same recipe. Toast the spices separately. Spread them on a large tray or a clean cotton cloth, and cool to room temperature. Give the spices to your local grinding mill or flour mill.
The Rasam Podi will be hot or warm after bulk grinding the ingredients by your local mill. Let the ground powder cool completely to room temperature. Then, store in a large, clean and dry air-tight container.
Take required portions for monthly usage in a small handy jar and keep the large container covered with an air-tight lid in a cool dry place.
Storage and Usage
My recipe of Rasam Powder will fill a medium-sized jar or container of 200 grams. So, if you make rasam once or twice a week, it will last you for about 3 months. If you make rasam pretty often, then the podi will last for about a month.
As I said earlier, you can store the Rasam Podi in a clean, dry, air-tight glass jar or steel container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator or freezer.
Add 1 tablespoon of Rasam Powder in any rasam recipe that has a serving of 4 to 5. For a more intense and stronger flavor, you can even add 1.5 tablespoons of this Rasam Podi mix.
How to make Rasam Powder Recipe
Roast Spices, Lentils
1. Keep all the spices and lentils ready before you begin. Take a heavy kadai (wok) or a pan and heat it. Keep the heat to a low. Add 1 heaped cup (70 grams) coriander seeds.
2. On low heat, stirring continuously, roast coriander seeds.
3. Stirring often, roast coriander seeds till crisp and aromatic. The color will also change.
4. Keep the roasted coriander seeds aside on a plate or tray.
5. Now, add 2 tablespoons (30 grams) husked and split Bengal gram (chana dal) in the kadai.
6. Stirring continuously, roast chana dal till the color changes to a golden.
7. Remove and keep aside on the same plate.
8. Next, add 5 tablespoons (60 grams) pigeon pea lentils (tuvar dal, tur dal, arhar dal).
9. Stirring often, roast tuvar dal till golden and aromatic. Remove keep aside.
10. Add 2 tablespoons (20 grams) black peppercorns.
11. Stirring continuously, roast black pepper till aromatic. Remove and keep aside.
12. Then, add 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cumin seeds.
13. Stirring often, roast cumin seeds till aromatic and the color changes. Remove and keep aside.
14. Lastly, add 15 to 16 (20 grams) dried byadagi red chilies. I have broken the red chilies and removed the seeds. If you do this method, then you will need 1 cup broken dried red chilies.
Tip: It is a good practice to remove the seeds from dried red chilies before you use them for cooking.
15. As soon as you add the red chilies, quickly stir and begin to roast till the color darkens a bit. Do not burn them.
16. If the pan has become too hot, switch off the heat and then continue to roast. Roast until you see their color has changed and you feel their pungent sharp aroma.
17. Remove roasted red chilies and keep aside. Let the spices and lentils cool completely to room temperature before you begin to grind them.
Make Rasam Powder
18. Now, add the roasted spices and lentils in the spice grinder, mixer-grinder or blender. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder.
19. Grind everything to a fine powder. You can grind in 2 batches and then mix both the batches in a bowl or plate.
20. Spoon the Rasam Powder in a glass jar. Seal with an air-tight lid. Store at room temperature in a cool dry place. You can even store the Rasam Podi in the refrigerator or freezer.
21. Use Rasam Powder to make any rasam recipe.
Rasam Powder vs Sambar Powder
As you must have seen above, Rasam Powder is made by finely powdering roasted/toasted spices and lentils. It used in making rasam which is a thin, sour and soupy drink that can be had as is or served with rice.
Unlike a rasam that is thin and runny, a sambar has a medium to thick consistency and is paired with steamed rice or idli or dosa or vada.
On the surface it looks like similar spices and lentils are used in making both the Rasam Podi and Sambar Powder, but their proportions are different and varied.
Thus due to this changes in the proportions and some varied ingredients added, both Rasam Powder and Sambar Masala are not the same and have a unique flavor, taste profile and fragrance.
Note: If you are sensitive or allergic to smells, then cover your mouth and nose, especially when you roast black pepper and the dried red chilies. While roasting spices like these, their pungent and sharp smell can be irritating to the throat and nose.
Why Homemade Rasam Powder?
Making homemade Rasam Powder is always better as you can increase or decrease the spice and pungency according to your preferences. For example, you can add less black pepper or dried red chilies.
For dried red chilies, I would suggest to add chilies which are low in heat, like the Kashmiri red chilies or byadagi red chilies. Do not add red chilies which are high in heat and pungency as these will make the Rasam Podi very spicy and pungent.
I have not added fenugreek seeds, but you can add a bit, if you want. Some curry leaves and asafoetida (hing) can also be added. Do remember to roast the curry leaves on low heat until they become crisp.
To roast the asafoetida, simply heat the pan on low heat. Switch off the heat and place the pan on kitchen countertop. Add the asafoetida to the pan and stir. Set the asafoetida aside.
Making homemade spice mixes are definitely easier, cleaner and more hygienic than the ones brought from the market. There are obviously no preservatives, food colorings, fillers or additives added in the ones made at home.
Homemade spice blends or masalas are actually best as they are packed with a lot of flavor and aroma. I usually make most of the spice blends, in small to medium quantities, at home.
Expert Tips for Best Rasam Podi
- Spices: When making any spice blend, use fresh and good quality spices. If you buy or get organic spices, then definitely use them. The spices have to be crisp, clean with no signs of mould or fungal growth on them.
- Lentils: Use fresh lentils and not aged ones. Make sure there are no insects or mould on the lentils.
- Pungency: Kashmiri red chilies and byadagi chilies are less hot and pungent. So, adding these chilies won’t make your rasam spice mix spicy or pungent. But if you prefer a spicy one, then add a mix of less spicy red chilies and pungent red chilies. In my recipe, I have used byadagi red chilies.
- Buying spices: In India, we can easily buy the spices and lentils locally. But if you stay outside India, then look for these ingredients in an Indian or Asian grocery store. You will also find these spices, dried red chilies and lentils, online on websites like Amazon.
- Storage: A glass jar is good to store ground spice blends. A steel container or a steel jar also works well.
- Scaling: You can easily scale and make the Rasam Podi blend in small or large quantities, according to your needs.
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Rasam Powder Recipe | Homemade Rasam Podi
- 1 heaped cup coriander seeds – 70 grams
- 2 tablespoons chana dal – 30 grams (split and husked bengal gram)
- 5 tablespoons tuvar dal – 60 grams arhar dal (pigeon pea lentils)
- 2 tablespoons whole black pepper – 20 grams
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds – 15 grams
- 15 to 16 byadagi red chilies – 20 grams or 1 cup broken dry red chilies
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder – optional
Roasting spices and lentils
- Keep all the spices and lentils ready before you begin. Take a heavy wok or kadai or a frying pan and heat it. Keep the heat to a low.
- Add coriander seeds.
- On a low heat stirring continuously roast coriander seeds until they become aromatic. Their color will also change.
- Remove the coriander seeds in a plate or tray.
- Now add chana dal in the same kadai or pan. Stirring continuously roast chana dal until their color changes and they become golden. Set aside.
- Add tuvar dal and stirring often roast the lentils until they become golden and aromatic. Set aside.
- Add black pepper and stirring non-stop roast these until you get their pungent aroma.
- Next add cumin seeds and stirring often roast them until their color changes and they become aromatic.
- Lastly add byadagi red chilies. I have broken the red chilies and removed the seeds. If you do this method, then you will need 1 cup broken dry red chilies.
- As soon as you add dry red chilies, quickly stir and begin to roast them until their color darkens.
- If the pan has become too hot, then switch off the flame and continue to roast in the hot pan.
- Roast until you see the color has changed and smell the pungent sharp aroma of red chilies.
- Remove roasted chilies and set aside. Let the spices and lentils cool completely at room temperature.
Grinding spices and lentils
- Then add the spices in a grinder jar or a spice grinder. Add turmeric powder .
- Grind to a fine powder. You can grind in two batches and then mix both the batches of ground rasam powder.
- Add the rasam powder in a glass jar. Seal with an airtight lid. Store at room temperature. You can even store rasam podi in the fridge or freezer.
- Use rasam powder to make any rasam recipe. For a rasam of 4 to 5 servings, you can add 1 tablespoon of this rasam podi.
How to use?My rasam powder weighs 200 grams. If you make rasam once or twice a week, it will last you for about 3 months. Add 1 tablespoon of rasam powder in any rasam recipe that has a serving of 4 to 5. For a more intense, robust, spicy and stronger flavor, you can even add 1.5 tablespoons.
How to store?A glass jar is always great to store homemade spice blends. You can even use an air-tight steel container or a steel jar. The container or jar has to be clean and dry. You can store rasam podi in a cool dry place or in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Quality of spices & lentils: Use fresh, good quality, crisp, clean and preferably organic spices. Try to use fresh lentils and not aged lentils. There should be no insects or moulds in the lentils.
- Scaling: You can easily scale and make the rasam spice blend in small or large quantities according to your needs.
- Pungency: Adding Kashmiri red chillies and byadagi chillies won’t make your rasam powder spicy or pungent as these chillies are less hot. If you prefer a spicy rasam powder, then add a mix of pungent, spicy red chillies and less hot chillies. I have used byadagi red chillies.
- Buying spices: We can easily buy the spices and lentils in India. If you stay outside India, then you will get these ingredients in an Indian or Asian grocery store. You can also find them on amazon.
- Approximate nutrition info is for 1 tablespoon of rasam powder.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Rasam Powder recipe post from the archives, first published on February 2018 has been republished and updated on November 2022.