Tomato rasam also known as Thakalli Sathumadhu in Iyengar thamizh and Thilli Saaru in kannada , is an integral part of south indian platter. A feast without saathumadhu or rasam is incomplete. It is generally served after sambhar rice and before curd rice. The rasam helps in digesting the food , hence it is served in between the meal.
In the Iyengar jargon , the name “Saathumadhu” is actually the colloquial term for “Saattrumadhu“. “Saattru” meaning the juice , and we have the habit of suffixing “Amudhu” to every dish because we offer it to god before consuming it.
Traditionally “Saathumadhu” is prepared in “Eeya chombu” also know as Lead Pot which gives the best flavor and taste to the dish. Now the health brigade will come marching at my doorstep refuting that a vessel made out of lead cannot be used for cooking , “Ayyyo!! lead aa , it will spoil your stomach. It is not good for health. That-u … this-u…” . Lemme tell you something , My great-grandmother lived up to the age of 96 yrs and not a single day she missed having saathumadhu prepared from “eeya chombu“. Also she died due to age and not due to some disease caused by this. I’m 27 yrs old and ever since I started taking solids I’ve been eating saathumadhu made from “eeya chombu” and I’m hale and hearty. The “eeya chombu” showed in the picture is 17 yrs old. This was bought from “kumbakonam” and my mum has been maintaining it as good as new.
Pre Requisites for a perfect saathumadhu is , to boil 3 hybrid tomatoes or in kannada we call it as “Naatti tomato” and a small gooseberry sized tamarind together. You can cook this in a sauce pan or in a microwave. What my mother and I do is we cook it in the pressure cooker with the toor dal. Saathumadhu needs the dal stock for that added flavor. Hence You also need to pressure cook around 4-5 tablespoons of toor dal with excess water.
The method I’m going to explain is the traditional method which my great grandmother , grand mother , my mother and now me use. This is a method when there was no tomato puree available or blender was not used. This gives yield of about 700 ml of saathumadhu and can serve for a family of four.
I have used home made Rasam / Sathumadhu powder, you can use store bought one. But the difference between homemade and the one from the store is the powder will be coarse in the home made one. To get a good rasam , the powder has to be slightly coarse and not too fine. If the powder is fine , then the rasam gets too thick , rasam has to be lean and less aqueous than a sambhar.
- 3 Hybrid tomato
- Tamarind in the size of small gooseberry(amla)
- 700 ml water
- 3 tbsps Rasam powder / Sathumadhu podi
- componded asafoetida small pelette or 1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder(hing)
- 5-6 curry leaves
- finely chopped coriander leaves
- 4 tbsps of cooked toor dal
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- As mentioned above boil the tomatoes and tamarind together and cook the toor dal.
- Now take the cooked tomatoes and tamarind in a vessel with its stock and mash them with a masher , and filter this juice into the “eeya chombu” or any other vessel of your choice. If there is still pulp left in the tomatoes add another cup of water and mash them and filter it into the vessel. Tomato juice is filtered because the seeds in the tomatoes do not digest very easily , they tend to stick to the intestine. To avoid this , the juice / extract is filtered.
- Keep the “eeya chombu” on medium heat , add salt , compounded asafoetida and curry leaves and allow it to boil until the raw smell of the tomatoes go. Keep stirring this.
- Once when this starts boiling add 3 tablespoons of rasam powder /saathumadhu podi.
- Allow the saathumadhu to steep in medium heat for about 6-8 minutes. add the cooked toor dal with its stock.
- If you feel the consistency of the rasam is too thick , then add another 100 ml of water to it. The rasam’s consistency should be lean when compared that of a sambhar.
- Stir it in and allow this to boil for another minute or two in low heat. Add chopped coriander leaves and temper the saathumadhu.