Beetroot & Tomato Rasam
This is Leon’s version of a restorative and fragrant south-Indian soup. Store-bought rasam powders are available, if you are in a hurry, but making your own will elevate this dish. It also means you can tweak it to your taste.
For the rasam powder:
- 2 dried red chillies
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
For the soup:
- 1 tbsp neutral-flavoured cooking oil (vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 cooked beetroots (not packed in vinegar), diced into 2cm chunks
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 × recipe quantity of rasam powder (above)
- 500ml (1 pint) water
- 2 tbsp unsalted vegan butter
- 1 large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- To make the rasam powder, toast all the ingredients in a hot, dry frying pan until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool, then grind to a coarse powder with a pestle and mortar (or a spice grinder).
- To make the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, mustard seeds and curry leaves, and fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the tomatoes and fry for 4-5 minutes until they start to soften, then add the beetroot chunks and fry for a further 3 minutes
- Next, add the tamarind paste, breaking it up and mixing it in with a wooden spoon. Cook for a further minute or so. Add the salt, rasam powder and measured water, mix well, then bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes.
- If you like the soup more broth-like, leave as it is. We like it a bit thicker, so use a stick blender to give the mixture a very quick blitz, leaving it chunky.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary.
- Stir through the butter until melted, then add the coriander leaves. Divide between bowls and eat immediately.
Vegan Life tip
Rasam is sometimes made with added cooked lentils.
Recipe from Happy Leons: Leon Happy Guts: Recipes to help you live better by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (Published by Conran Octopus, 16.99, octopusbooks.co.uk).