RASAM (South Indian Soup)
from Tooba Durrani of Portland, Oregon

My mother and I had our doubts when we attempted to make this soup for Tooba's Indian food potluck, but it came out delicious!

2 oz red lentils (aka masoor dal)
4 oz of tamarind pulp
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped (or good canned chopped tomato)
4 cloves garlic
1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
small bunch of fresh coriander (aka cilantro), finely chopped, plus extra for garnishing
1 green chile, slit lengthways
1 tsp tumeric powder
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp oil (olive preferably)
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 dried red chiles
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp grd cumin
½ tsp coriander powder
a few curry leaves
a small pinch of asafoetida

Wash the red lentil thoroughly and place in a heavy saucepan. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the dal to a boil. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 1 to 1 ½ hours (it may be done sooner then this) until the dal is cooked. Set aside without draining.

Roughly break up the tamarind pulp with your hands and place the pieces in 16 ozs of warm water to soak for 10 minutes. Drain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pushing the pulp through the sieve with back of a spoon. Discard the pits and fiber and set the tamarind liquid aside.

(if using tamarind paste just add the warm water and mix until no longer lumpy)

Place the tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a blender and process for 1 minute.

In a large sauce pan, heat the tamarind liquid over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the fresh cilantro, green chile, tumeric, black pepper, and the blended tomato mixture. Bring the soup to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to let the mixture boil over. Add the cooked dal (red lentils), stir well and add salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the oil then add the mustard seeds and as they pop add the dried chiles, cumin seeds, grd cumin, grd coriander, curry leaves, and asafetida. Fry for 1 min, than pour the oil and spices over the soup. Stir thoroughly garnish with the extra cilantro leaves and serve.

Serves 4

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