Indian cuisine is packed with wonderful spices and spice blends. Rasam powder is undoubtedly among them and is the icon of South Indian cuisine. So, let’s get to know everything about this flavorful blend.
Rasam powder is popularly known in South Indian cuisine as “Rasam Podi”. It is a blend of flavorful ground spices and lentils. It is the main flavoring ingredient in traditional Indian “Rasam” dishes. This spice blend typically comes together with spices such as:
- Coriander seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Dried red chiles
- Fenugreek seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Ground turmeric
- Curry leaves
In addition to these spices, it also contains ground lentils such as toor dal and chana dal. And some variations may also include asafoetida, garlic, oil, etc.
Continue reading and ensure you don’t miss any of the sections below if you need to know what rasam powder is!
What Is Rasam Powder?
As mentioned in the beginning, rasam powder is a flavorful, warm, and aromatic blend of spices and lentils. This is the primary flavoring agent of different rasam dishes made across India. Rasam is a traditional Indian dish having its roots in South Indian cuisine.
It is a soup based on lentils, tomatoes, and tamarind. Although rasam powder is mainly used to flavor the rasam dish, it is also used in different dishes to create an excellent, warming taste. The ingredients used in this spice blend are dry-roasted before grinding.
While many native Indians prefer making their own rasam powder mixture at home, you’ll also find plenty of shop-bought options. Interestingly, this spice blend has not evolved much over the years. Even though variations exist depending on the producer or household, we can see that the same generic ingredients are involved in almost every recipe.
How Does Rasam Powder Taste Like?
The flavor profile of rasam powder is based on coriander, cumin, and black peppercorns. Thus, it is a warm, spicy blend with peppery undertones. It also contains a decent amount of dried red chiles, contributing to the mixture’s heaty note. Ground lentils lend a fantastic depth and texture, while other ingredients, and turmeric and asafoetida, give the desired earthiness.
Ingredients In Rasam Powder
Spices and Herbs
Coriander seeds– This spice holds the bulk of this spice blend. Coriander seeds have a gentle flavor profile with slightly citrusy, warm, floral, and sweet undertones. Its taste intensifies when toasted, pairing well with other ingredients like cumin, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, etc. The pleasant flavor profile of coriander seeds balances out the overall taste of this blend.
Cumin seeds– Cumin is the next fundamental ingredient in rasam powder that teams up with coriander to build up the base of this blend. This spice is known for its distinctive nutty, warm, earthy, and slightly bitter-sweet flavor profile. Like coriander, cumin also intensifies when dry-roasted. Cumin seeds also go well with fenugreek seeds, red chiles, curry leaves, and lentils used in this spice mixture.
Dried red chiles- Whole, dry-roasted red chiles give the amazing punch of heat to rasam powder. This spice has a neutral flavor with slight fruity hints and red chiles also help to provide a beautiful color and vibrancy to this spice blend. This spice teams up with almost all the ingredients used in rasam powder.
Fenugreek seeds– Popular as Methi in south Indian cuisine, fenugreek is another essential spice included in rasam powder. This spice has bitter and tangy overtones that can add a contrasting flavor to rasam powder. Fenugreek seeds often pair well with lentils, curry leaves, coriander seeds, and cumin to add up to the overall flavor of the blend.
Black peppercorns- Rasam powder usually contains a generous amount of black peppercorns. The woody, earthy, warm, and piney elements of this spice upgrade the flavor quality of this spice blend. It offers a characteristic pepperiness, teaming up with dried red chiles, coriander, cumin, and curry leaves for more robustness.
Ground turmeric– Incredibly earthy turmeric is a wonderful spice that gives a fantastic quality boost and aroma to rasam powder. This spice predominantly helps with its color to give this spice blend its overall pleasant shade. The health benefits of rasam powder amplify when turmeric is incorporated with black pepper.
Curry leaves- This herb has a unique flavor with floral, herbal, warm, grassy notes and hints of asafoetida. Curry leaves are widely used in Indian Sri Lankan cuisines, especially for their “curry” vibe. This herb’s taste intensifies when dry-roasted, like any other spice used in rasam powder. Curry leaves pretty much pair with all the ingredients used here.
Other Ingredients In Rasam Powder
Apart from the basic spices and herbs in this spice blend, you’ll find roasted ground lentils such as chana dal and toor dal. Lentils are added primarily to get the desired depth and rich texture to this blend. In addition, we can discover asafoetida in many homemade and shop-bought variations.
Ingredients like coconut oil, groundnut oil, and garlic are not traditional elements in this blend. But still, you’ll be able to find them in some options. Moreover, commercially-made rasam powder options might include other additives and preservatives, including salt.
How To Use Rasam Powder?
As aforementioned, the primary purpose of rasam powder is to flavor various types of rasam dishes made in Indian cuisine. Those rasam recipes include varieties such as:
- Tomato rasam
- Tamarind rasam
- Mysore rasam
- Garlic rasam
- Pepper rasam
- Lemon-coriander rasam
- Pineapple rasam
In addition to its primary use, this spice blend can also be used in ways such as:
- To flavor vegetable curries
- It can be added to spice up lentil dishes
- Perks up rice dishes
- It gives a perfect finishing touch to soups and stews
- It can be used as a dry rub or mixed into marinades
- Ramps up egg dishes
- Flavors up curry sauces and gravies
What Can You Use As Rasam Powder Substitutes?
Rasam powder is a simple blend. It contains some basic ingredients with a very versatile flavor profile. Therefore, you can find several alternatives to bring a similar effect to the original blend. These substitutes include:
- Sambar Powder
- Indian curry powder/ Madras curry powder
- Curry powder used in Western cuisine
- Garam Masala
- Chaat masala
- Vindaloo curry powder
- Thai curry powder
- Sri Lankan unroasted curry powder
Rasam powder is readily available in any grocery store across India. But you might doubt where to find it when it comes to Western countries.
If you live somewhere around the USA, you could find this spice blend in the international spice aisle of any leading supermarket. In addition, you can also get this from Asian stores (particularly at Indian stores such as Patel Brothers) and count on online shopping sites.
Frankly, sambar powder and rasam powder have so many things in common that we hardly understand that there’s a difference between them.
They are very similar in flavor and texture, often made with the same ingredients. But sambar powders tend to have more red chiles than rasam powder and could be spicier. On the contrary, rasam powder has more black pepper and does not typically contain coconut.
Click on this link as we have posted a complete article that explains the difference between Sambar powder and rasam powder. Go check it out!
The simplest answer is No. As the name suggests, Sri Lankan curry powder is a type of “curry powder”. It is mainly used in Sri Lankan-style curries. But rasam powder is specifically used to make rasam.
Sri Lankan curry powder has many variations, varying in terms of ingredients, mode of processing, and intensity. While most types of Sri Lankan curry powder can be way more piquant and intense in profundity than rasam powder, some types can be less robust than rasam powder.
Click here and go to this article to find out how exactly Sri Lankan curry powder differs from rasam powder.
How To Store Rasam Powder?
Like most other spice blends, you can store rasam powder in an air-tight glass container in a cool, dry, dark place. You could keep store-bought or homemade rasam powder flavorful and aromatic for a maximum of one month.
After that, this spice blend will start to lose its potency. It is essential to use new spices if you make this at home. Also, make sure to use a dry spoon each time you scoop the content out of the container. This way, you can maintain the quality and freshness of your rasam powder for a long time.
Rasam powder usually comes with one hundred percent plant sources, like spices, herbs, and grains. Therefore, this spice blend is a favorable choice to be included in your diet if you are tracking a vegan or a vegetarian diet.
Like many other spice blends, rasam powder is also very low in carbs. Hence, this spice mixture can be an excellent addition and a tasty way to upgrade your ketogenic meals!
Gluten-related ingredients are not traditionally included in rasam powder. But sometimes, commercially-made variations might contain gluten for texture and flavor enhancement. Thus, check the list of ingredients on the packaging if you purchase this spice blend from a shop.
Rasam Powder Brings Pure South Indian Flavors On Your Dinner Table!
This warm, earthy, and hearty spice blend is a magical combination of flavorful and aromatic ingredients that could instantly upgrade your meals. While coriander, cumin, black pepper, red chiles, fenugreek, etc., get together to impart an amazing flavor to rasam, this blend also complements many other dishes. It has a strong South Indian kick that could transform your kitchen into an Asian restaurant in a matter of a few minutes!