Cumin potage

Contributed by

Viji Varadarajan

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Cumin potage

A fascinating story of the Tambram soups... and the creation of our grandmothers that is followed until this day. Rasams have immense health benefits and boost the human body. They are delicious too. Come on a journey with me as I take you through this wonderful recipe. So much indeed for the younger generation to imbibe and follow. One of the ingredients, SAMBAR POWDER / Sambar Podi is one of the most versatile and creative spice powders in the Sathvic cuisine. When added to various sauces and stir-fries it adds a zooming flavor that is truly unbeatable. Sambar powder is a must in every South Indian home. Always prepare this powder at home as it is healthy and all the spice ingredients are available commonly in Indian / Asian groceries. You can buy a good brand of Sambar powder in the grocery store.



  • 1 tbs tamarind purée
  • 1/2 tsp sambar powder
  • 8 medium curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the paste

  • 1 tsp pigeon peas / thuvar dal
  • 2 tbs cumin seeds
  • 4 medium curry leaves

For the seasoning

  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ghee


  • 5 cup coriander seeds
  • 3/4 cup pigeon peas / thuvar dal
  • 1/2 cup bengal gram / chana dal
  • 1/2 cup husked whole black gram / urad dal
  • 1/4 cup fenugreek seeds / methi
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup cumin seeds
  • 2 cup dried red chillis
  • 1/4 cup peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup curry leaves
  • 8 long thin turmeric pieces OR 3 tbsps turmeric powder


  • Soak the dal and cumin seeds in half a cup of hot water for 15 minutes and coarsely blend with the curry leaves. Or first powder the mix very coarsely in a coffee blender and then soak in hot water for 15 minutes.
  • In a deep pan, boil the tamarind pulp, sambar powder and salt in two cups of water for five minutes. Melt the ghee and pop the mustard and add this to the liquid.
  • Add the paste and a cup of water. Simmer for a couple of minutes or until it froths over on the surface. Now add squeezed wet curry leaves, stir for five seconds and remove from flame. Allow the spices to settle at the bottom before serving. Serve as a soup or as a second course with rice and a dollop of ghee. An amazing tasting rasam.
  • For the SAMBAR POWDER / Sambar Podi - Wash and wipe the curry leaves dry. Roast all the ingredients with the curry leaves in a saucepan over a medium flame for a couple of minutes, until the lentils turn light golden and start emitting their distinctive aromas. Blend into a fine powder. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. The powder remains fresh for many months.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Indian

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