Rasam powder is another Indian spice blend and like many traditional spice blends, its history is not well documented. What is known about rasam powder is that it is used to flavor a dish called rasam, which is a South Indian soup made with lentils. It is also known that rasam’s roots lie in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and has made its way into surrounding states. It is viewed as a comfort food for many in this region and is also a popular dish for weddings.
Rasam is a dish of the Sourashtra people, a community that migrated from Gujarat and elsewhere to Tamil Nadu.
Rasam powder can be found in many Indian markets as a blend. Despite the convenience of a pre-blended powder, many Indian cooks prefer to put their own rasam powder blend together.
Rasam powder flavor profile
Ingredients for rasam powder can include: chili peppers, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, curry leaves, and asafoetida. The result is a savory, aromatic spice blend that is similar in flavor to garam masala but not as sweet. It is also relatively, hot but not overwhelmingly so in most cases. As with another popular Indian spice blend known as garam masala, the ingredients in rasam powder are often toasted before being ground. Toasting heightens their flavor and makes the dish more aromatic. Alternatively, they can be sun-dried. Sun-dried spices are traditionally added to the dish at the start of the cooking process, while toasted spices are added at the end.
Health benefits of rasam powder
As a combination of various nutrient-rich spices, rasam powder contains many compounds that are good for health. Those nutrients include:
- Minerals: The toor dal in rasam powder is also known as the pigeon pea and is packed with minerals including significant amounts of iron, calcium, and magnesium. Coriander seed is a good source of those three minerals. In addition to providing those minerals, asafoetida also contains a significant amount of manganese.
- Vitamins: Asafoetida has moderate levels of B vitamins; toor dal contains a higher amount. Chile peppers are rich in vitamin A.
- Fiber: All of the ingredients in rasam powder are good sources of dietary fiber.
As a result of the nutrients above and others in this seasoning blend, rasam powder can help to treat or prevent ailments such as:
- High blood pressure: The asafoetida used in rasam powder contains coumarin, which is a natural blood thinner and thus helps to lower blood pressure.
- Digestive ailments: Cumin can help to treat indigestion by helping with the production of digestive enzymes.
- Constipation: The high level of dietary fiber in rasam powder can help to ease the passage of food through the gut.
Common uses of rasam powder
Rasam soup is made with a base of tamarind or tomatoes. The word rasam is Sanskrit for juice and refers to the use of tamarind or tomato juice. Rasam can be served by itself and consumed like any soup or it can be served over rice, similar to the way that dal is sometimes served. The traditional way to serve rasam is as the second course of a meal.
The spices used to make rasam powder are versatile and can be adapted to a range of other applications. You can use it in much the same way that you would use other Indian spice mixes. Examples include using it as a dry rub or for sprinkling onto roasted vegetables.