Tomato Rasam


  • 1 cup yellow split lentils
  • 10 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seed
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 5 teaspoons rasam spice mix, recipe follows
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup cooked brown basmati rice
  • ½ cup cooked yellow split lentils
  • ¼ cup acorn or other squash, diced and cooked


Cook lentils in 3 cups salted water; strain and reserve water to thin the soup. 

Mill tomatoes, place in a pot and add turmeric when hot. Simmer 15 minutes, add tamarind and simmer 30 more minutes, both times covered. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan, crack cumin seed, mustard seed, curry leaves and add to the oil. Add oil and spice mix to soup; taste, adjust seasoning and thin with lentil water if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and finish with cilantro, rice, lentils and seasonal vegetable. 

To make spice mix, toast 1 cup coriander seed, ¼ cup black peppercorns, ¼ cup Spanish-style smoked paprika and ½ cup yellow split lentils until fragrant and grind. Makes 1¾ cups. 

Chef de Cuisine David Chapman; Green Zebra; Chicago