Onion Rasam or Vengaya Rasam is a South Indian style soup made with shallots and crushed garlic. Rasam is a South Indian style lentil broth and uses tamarind pulp, tomatoes and Rasam powder. This recipe uses onions and garlic for a unique flavor. Enjoy this Vengaya Rasam with hot steamed rice and some potato fry for a tasty comfort meal.
I m often wonderstruck at the brilliance behind the South Indian meal. Even an everyday south Indian meal is designed to take care of all nutritional requirements in the body. If you stop and think for a moment, the genius in the meal will leave you open-mouthed.
The sambar or kuzhambu that s usually loaded with legumes and vegetables takes care of your protein, the Rasam acts as a good digestive along with being loaded with pepper and cumin, both known for medicinal properties, a curry that usually is garnished with coconut takes care of vitamins, rice that adds carbs to your diet and finally the yogurt that stimulates digestion. Genius, right?
It is the norm to make Rasam with plenty of shallots and garlic in many parts of Tamil Nadu. But somehow, in my house, Garlic in Rasam happens when someone s sick with a cold. I first came across the idea of adding onions to rasam at my friend Sangeeta’s house and I loved it!
Chinna Vengaya Rasam
Needless to say, this rasam is an inspiration from her. And then, I read this Chinna Vengaya Rasam recipe in a small booklet that i have. And i was immediately intrigued. Among the many reasons i love this easy Rasam, it has got to be because it works well during summers and winters.
This recipe specifically calls for Shallots. Shallots are also called as Sambar Vengayam in Tamil. And they are rightly called so. They are flavor-packed and take the mediocre Sambar to the next level.
But if you cannot source shallots, then you can make this with red onions.
- Soak the tamarind in 1 c warm water for 20 mins. While the tamarind is getting softened up, prep the dal.
- Wash the toor dal thoroughly. Add ¾ c water and ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.
- Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles or until mushy. Natural release pressure. Set aside the cooked dal.
- You can also peel the shallots and prep the remaining ingredients while the tamarind is getting soaked and the dal is being cooked.
Ingredients- Replacements and Substitutes
Onions– This recipe calls for Shallots or Baby onions or Pearl onions. If you cannot source them, then substitute the quantity called for, with 1 c finely chopped red onions.
Tamarind extract-We are going to use a freshly made tamarind extract here by soaking tamarind. You can speed up the process by using 1.5 teaspoon thick tamarind paste diluted with 1 c warm water in its place.
Tomatoes– I recommend using ripe red tomatoes for best results.
Spices– Each of the whole spices called for in this recipe is very important. And so its not recommended that you skip any of it.
Homemade rasam powder– Apart from the spice paste, this recipe calls for using homemade rasam powder. This is to enhance the taste further. You can always use any store-bought rasam powder too.
Method with step by step photos
Soaking the tamarind
Like i mentioned in the Prep Work section, soak the tamarind in 1 c warm water for 20 mins. When the tamarind has softened, smash it well along with the water. Discard all the strings and fiber.
This is our tamarind extract.
Cooking the Toor dal
While the tamarind is getting soaked, pressure cook the toor dal. To do this, wash the toor dal and combine it with ¾ c water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles. Natural release pressure. Mash well and set aside.
Prepping the spice paste
Heat a pan with sesame oil. Add the cumin, fenugreek and whole black pepper corns. When they begin to pop, add the shallots and fry till pink. When done, add the chopped tomatoes and cook till tomatoes turn mushy.
Let cool. Add turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon water.
And now grind to a smooth paste in a blender.
Making the rasam
Now, heat a pan with sesame oil. Add the mustard seeds and add the cumin seeds. This is our tempering.
When the mustard and cumin seeds start spluttering, add the peeled and chopped shallots and garlic. Fry till they turn pink and soft. Add the prepared tamarind extract and salt to the pan. Mix well.
Now add the spice paste and Rasam powder to the tamarind extract. Mix well. Wash your blender with ½ c water and add this water to the pan too.
Simmer on low flame till it begins to froth around the edges. At this stage, add the cooked toor dal. Mix well. Adjust the consistency by adding 1 or 1.25 cups water if you find it too thick.
Now, continue to simmer this on low flame till it begins to froth on the surface fully.
When done, garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice and potato fry.
Pro Tip- If your Rasam is too tangy, then add a piece of Jaggery to balance the taste.
More Rasam Recipes
Pro Tip -Rasam should never be boiled too much. The right time to switch off the rasam is when it becomes fully frothy at the surface.
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Onion Rasam - Vengaya Rasam
- Pressure cooker/ Mealthy/ IP
- Sauce Pan
For the tamarind extract
- 10 g tamarind
- 1 c Warm water
For The Toor Dal
- 3 tablespoon Toor dal
- ¾ c Water
- ⅛th tsp Turmeric powder
For The Spice paste
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon Peppercorns
- ¾ tsp Fenugreek seeds
- 10 numbers Shallots peeled and chopped
- ½ c finely chopped tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon water
For the rasam
- 1.5 tablespoon Sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 2 cloves Garlic chopped finely
- 12 numbers Shallots peeled and chopped roughly.
- 1 recipe tamarind extract
- 1 tablespoon Salt to taste
- 1 recipe Above ground paste
- 1 tablespoon Homemade rasam powder
- 1 recipe cooked toor dal refer step by step instructions.
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
- ½ to 1 c Water for adjusting consistency if needed.
- Soak the tamarind in the warm water.
- When soft, squash it well with the water.
- Discard the seeds, fiber and strings.
- This is our tamarind extract.
- While the tamarind is soaking, wash the toor dal well.
- Combine with ¾ c water and turmeric powder.
- Pressure cook this for 3 to 4 whistles or until dal turns mushy.
- Natural release pressure.
- Mash the dal and set aside.
Making the spice paste
- While the tamarind and dal is getting ready, we can make our spice paste.
- Heat a pan with sesame oil.
- Add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and peppercorns.
- When the spices begin to splutter and pop, add the finely chopped shallots.
- Fry them till pink and soft.
- Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook till tomataoes are mushy.
- This is our base for the spice paste.
- Let this cool.
- When cool, add this to a blender jar along with 1 tablespoon water and turmeric powder.
- Grind to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Making Onion Rasam
- Heat a sauce pan with sesame oil.
- Pop the mustard seeds.
- Now add the cumin and allow it to splutter.
- When done, add finely chopped garlic and shallots.
- Fry till shallots become pink and soft.
- Now add the tamarind extract along with the salt.
- Add the ground paste and rasam powder to this and mix well.
- Now, add ½ c water to the blender and clean up all the spice paste.
- Add this water to the pan too.
- Simmer on low flame till the mixture becomes frothy around the edges.
- When done, add the mashed cooked toor dal and mix well.
- If you find the rasam too thick, add ½ c to 1 c water at this stage to adjust consistency.
- Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Simmer on low flame for about 3 to 4 mins till rasam begins to froth fully at the surface.
- Switch off flame.
- Garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves.
- Serve hot
For Instant Pot & Air Fryer Recipes
Instant Pot timings may vary based on your geographic location. Air fryer settings and timings may vary based on the capacity and the model of the Air fryer.
Nutrition values are provided here as a courtesy and are only a rough guide. Please consult a health care provider if you have any concerns.
What is Rasam Powder?
This is an unique spice blend that has coriander seeds, black pepper, cumin and dried red chilli. We use this in most South Indian rasam recipe. For this recipe, you can use homemade or store-bought rasam powder.