Tamarind Rasam | Puli Rasam

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Tamarind rasam is a sour, spicy and warming rasam variant from the South Indian cuisine. It is made with tangy dried tamarind, tomatoes, spices and herbs. It makes for a healthy side that can be served as a soup or mixed with steamed rice and eaten. Nourishing, comforting soup like dish for the winters or monsoons. Bonus, my recipe does not need any ready rasam powder.

tamarind rasam served in a bowl on a white tray

It’s raining and raining here. So all that I make these days are some hearty soups, comforting dals, spicy starters, steaming pakoras and tangy rasams.

Rasam is a South Indian variation of soup. Usually it has a thin consistency and is either had as is or with rice. Most of the rasam variations are very good for cough, cold and fever. They are also warming, healthy and best had during cold seasons.

There are many types of rasam that I make like:

Tamarind rasam is also known as Puli Rasam. As tamarind is called puli in Tamil language. The recipe is also called as Chintapandu Charu in Telugu Language..

This sour and spicy tamarind rasam is perfected over the years. In this recipe, the sourness comes from tamarind. The pungency, spiciness and heat come from the spices and herbs like black pepper, cumin, garlic and red chilies. Since we are using these spices and herbs, we don’t need to have ready rasam powder to make this recipe.

Adding tomatoes to the rasam is optional and you can skip that. Since I do like the flavor of tomatoes I have added it. Also while grinding the spices, if you want you can add some coriander stems with leaves. I have skipped adding them and added coriander leaves later as a garnish.

You can either temper the rasam before or after. In this recipe I have tempered before and then simmered the rasam.

Rasam should not be overcooked so that the flavors from the spices don’t get lost. Generally, rasam is served with rice and sambar combination. You can also serve it plain with rice and a side vegetable dish like poriyal, thoran, kootu or any dry vegetable dish. It also tastes good as a soup.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Tamarind Rasam

Make Tamarind Water or Extract

1. Soak 1 lemon sized tamarind (or about 2 tablespoons tightly packed tamarind) in 1 cup water for 30 to 40 minutes. If you are short of time then soak in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.

You can also use ready tamarind paste. Mix about 2 to 3 tablespoons tamarind paste with 1 cup water and set aside.

soaked tamarind in water

2. Later, squeeze the pulp from the soaked tamarind with your hands in the water. Keep aside.

tamarind pulp in a bowl

More Prep

3. Crush 1 medium-sized tomato with your hands or you can chop them. You can also use a small food chopper to crush the tomato.

crushed tomato in a bowl

4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the tamarind pulp. Set aside.

crushed tomatoes added to tamarind pulp

5. Measure and keep all the ingredients ready. In the below photo, you will see the ingredients that we need for the ground spice mix.

You will need:

  • ½ teaspoon whole black pepper
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 dry red chilies (broken and seeds removed)
  • ¼ cup of coriander leaves with their stems (cilantro)
ingredients for making tamarind rasam

6. Add these spices and herbs to a mortar. You can also crush these ingredients in a coffee grinder or a small blender to a semi coarse mixture.

spices and herbs in a bowl

7. Crush with the pestle and make a semi coarse mixture.

semi coarse mixture of spices and herbs

Make Tamarind Rasam

8. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan or kadai (wok). First fry ¾ teaspoon of black mustard seeds till they crackle.

You can use any neutral flavored oil or sesame oil made from raw sesame seeds.

mustard seeds in oil in a kadai

9. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.

adding cumin seeds

10. Fry till cumin are browned.

fry cumin seeds till browned

11. Add 10 to 12 curry leaves and ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing). Fry for some seconds. You can opt to add 1 to 2 small cloves of lightly crushed garlic in the tempering at this step.

curry leaves and hing added

12. Add the tamarind pulp and crushed tomatoes mixture carefully as it can splutter.

add tamarind pulp mixture

13. Stir and mix well.

stir and mix the mixture

14. Add the ground semi coarse mixture of spices and herbs that we had prepared earlier.

Add the ground semi coarse rasam powder

15. Mix well.

mix again

16. Add about 2 cups of water or as required.

add water

17. Season with salt as per taste.

add salt as needed

18. Mix again.

mix again

19. Bring to one boil and then later continue to simmer puli rasam for about 5 minutes. The tomatoes should soften. If they have not softened, then cook further for a couple of minutes.

simmer for 5 to 6 minutes

20. Lastly add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves and give a stir.

garnish tamarind rasam with coriander leaves

21. Serve tamarind rasam hot or warm as a side dish with any South Indian vegetarian main course. You can also enjoy it as a soup.

tamarind rasam served in a bowl on a white tray

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tamarind rasam recipe, puli rasam recipe

Tamarind Rasam

4.5 from 8 votes
Tamarind rasam is a sour, spicy and warming rasam variant from the South Indian cuisine. It is made with tangy dried tamarind, tomatoes, spices and herbs. It is also called as Puli Rasam or Chintapandu Charu.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Cuisine South Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

Main ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons tamarind – tightly packed or 1 lemon sized tamarind, soaked in 1 cup water for 30 to 40 minutes
  • 1 tomato – medium sized
  • 2 to 2.25 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) – for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons oil – any neutral flavored oil or sesame oil made from raw sesame seeds
  • salt as required

Ingredients for the rasam spice mix

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 or 1.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves – small to medium-sized
  • 3 to 4 dry red chilies – broken and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves with their stems – optional

For tempering

  • ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds – optional
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder (hing)
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves

Instructions

Preparation

  • Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water for 30 to 40 minutes. Or if you are short of time then soak in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Squeeze the pulp from the soaked tamarind with your hands in the water. Keep aside.
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add this to the tamarind pulp.
  • You can also chop the tomatoes, if you prefer.
  • Make a semi coarse mixture in a small blender or coffee grinder or in a mortar-pestle with the ingredients mentioned under rasam spice mix.

Making tamarind rasam

  • Heat oil in a pan. First fry the mustard seeds till they crackle.
  • Add cumin and fry till they are browned.
  • Add curry leaves and asafoetida. Fry for some seconds. You can opt to add 1 to 2 small garlic cloves here in the tempering.
  • Add the tamarind pulp – crushed tomatoes mixture.
  • Add the ground semi coarse rasam powder.
  • Stir and then add about 2 cups water or as required. Season with salt as per taste.
  • Bring to one boil and then simmer puli rasam for about 5 minutes.
  • Lastly add chopped coriander leaves and give a stir.
  • Serve tamarind rasam hot with any South Indian main course vegetarian meal. It can also be enjoyed as a soup.

Notes

  • The recipe can be scaled.
  • The addition of tomatoes is optional. But it gives a good flavor.
  • You can reduce the spices for a less pungent taste. But I don’t recommend increasing them.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Tamarind Rasam
Amount Per Serving
Calories 125 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Sodium 404mg18%
Potassium 213mg6%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 731IU15%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 39mg195%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 75mg91%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 10µg10%
Calcium 60mg6%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 401µg100%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 25mg6%
Phosphorus 42mg4%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Tamarind Rasam recipe post from the archives (first published in July 2013) has been republished and updated on 17 June 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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36 Comments

    1. of course you can. i checked and the printer option is working. so i am not sure what is causing the issue from your end. it could be a computer or a mobile related issue.

  1. Being a student in the UK away from home and missing rasam badly during a horrid cold brought me to your website. I tried the recipe and it’s come out wonderfully ! Yum Yum! And the best part was that I didn’t have to go hunting for rasam powder or some other ready made ingredient. Can’t wait to send pictures to Mom! Thanks!

    1. welcome namitha. glad to know that you liked the recipe. happy cooking.

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