South Indian Style Pineapple Rasam : Step by Step Recipe

Our love for rasam is already documented on this blog, here. Being a South Indian Tamil Brahmin, rasam is a well-loved, time-tested, and central part of our everyday traditional cooking repertoire. Rasam is generally had as a soup after the meal, or eaten with rice as a main dish. Although this is a very simple and humble dish, it delivers complex and really comforting flavours. In the words of DH, this is one of those few dishes which is difficult for anyone to get wrong. This is because there are quick, 3 minute versions of rasam suitable for beginners, to more complex versions incorporating several layers of flavor for experienced cooks. The best part is, regardless of which version you choose to make, it will taste amazing. IMHO, this is one of those dishes which is the hallmark of a good South Indian cook/chef. My grandma used to tell me that if you can make a great rasam, then you have a really solid future in cooking 🙂

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There are several versions of the humble rasam all over South India, and this Pineapple Rasam is a famous Karnataka spin on the rasam, made with juicy and ripe pineapples. This is such a fantastic and drool-inducing combination of the sweet from pineapples, sour from tamarind (and also pineapple to an extent), and spicy from the black pepper and green chillies. There is a beautiful and warm tone of cumin throughout the rasam, because after all, what is Rasam without cumin?! The charm of Rasam is such that if you have it once, you will be hooked forever! 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped pineapple (divided – a half cup goes into rasam and a half cup into the ground paste)
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup extracted tamarind juice (from squeezing a lemon sized ball of tamarind, using 1/2 cup of warm water)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp rasam powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin-pepper powder (optional, but recommended)

For tempering:

  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • Asafoetida – a pinch

For the paste:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 3-4 garlic pods

Method

  1. Choose a ripe and smallish pineapple. Remove the skin using a sharp knife.
  2. Chop up the pineapple into small pieces. It should make up roughly one cup in total.

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Out of this 1 cup of chopped pineapple, reserve half a cup of pineapple. Further, chop up one tomato, some fresh coriander, and then slit lengthwise some green chillies. This is all of your cutting prep done.

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  1. Add black peppercorns, garlic, and jeera to a mixer grinder jar.
  2. Add the reserved half of pineapple chunks to this.
  3. Grind into a smooth paste. You don’t need to add water as there is enough moisture in the ripe pineapple to make a wet paste.

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  1. Heat some oil in a kadai.
  2. Once oil is hot, add slit green chillies, saute for 5 seconds.
  3. Add the chopped pineapple and tomato in one go and saute for 5-6 seconds.
  4. Add water just enough to immerse the pineapple and tomato.
  5. Cover this with a lid. Allow to cook covered for 3-5 mins on medium flame.

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  1. While the pineapple is cooking, take another vessel. Add turmeric powder, rasam powder, and extracted tamarind juice to this. Mix well and set aside.
  2. After about 5 minutes, open the lid of the kadai. The pineapple and tomato would have cooked down and become soft.
  3. Add the ground pineapple and spice paste to this.
  4. Add the tamarind-spice water to this. Mix well.
  5. Bring to a boil. Once you see the rasam frothing, (will take about 3-5 minutes on medium simmer), lower the flame completely.
  6. Add the fresh chopped coriander to the rasam.
  7. Add the pepper-jeera powder.
  8. Add salt to taste. Check and adjust if you need more at this stage.
  9. Mix well, and switch off the stove.

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  1. Heat ghee in a small kadai. Splutter mustard seeds, then add asafoetida. (You could also add curry leaves to this tempering if you prefer)
  2. Pour this over the hot rasam.
  3. Immediately close the rasam vessel with a lid. (This helps trap all the aromas and flavor of the tempering, allowing it to taste fabulous when you serve!)

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Serve hot immediately with fresh steamed white rice, or freshly steamed millets. You can also serve this over cooked quinoa, or even brown rice. Try it!! 🙂

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TIPS & TWEAKS

  1. Pick a really ripe pineapple. The balance of sweet, sour and spicy in this dish is predominantly determined by the sweetness of the pineapple.
  2. This is fantastic as a standalone soup during winter months, and excellent when you have the cold, a runny nose, or the flu.
  3. Since it has pepper, garlic and cumin, it acts as an excellent appetite stimulant and digestive as well.
  4. If you want the rasam to be less spicy, don’t add the pepper jeera powder at the end stage of the rasam. Its already there in the ground paste, so that will suffice.
  5. You can make this without the rasam powder as well. Just omit adding it to the tamarind water above. Your rasam will still taste excellent.
  6. If you want this Rasam to be even more hearty, add 1/4 cup of cooked toor dal (lentils) to the rasam, just after the frothing stage. After mixing the cooked lentils in the rasam, just continue with the rest of the steps as listed above. Maybe add a little more water to dilute the rasam, if you see it getting thicker.
  7. DO NOT forget to close the rasam with a lid after tempering. For this dish especially, aroma is EVERYTHING!
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