Garlic Rasam (Poondu Rasam)

Lemon Rasam
Rasam and sambar are two of the most basic dishes cooked in every Tamilian kitchen. They are usually made at the same meal, in fact at almost every meal, and are a wonderful example of the resourceful creativity of the Indian housewife: when cooked, the thick lentils sit at the bottom of the pan while the flavor-infused water used to cook the lentils floats at the top. The lentils, when cooked with spices and veggies, become the sambar, while the lentil-flavored water, after being flavored with tamarind and tomatoes, turns into the tangy, spicy rasam.

Rasam was one of the first dishes I learned to cook. In fact, my rasam would often earn the praise of even the Tamil side of my family. I love it so much, I usually drink it all by itself, like a watery soup.

I usually make my own rasam powder, but you can also use store-bought for this recipe. I used lemon in this rasam instead of the more traditional tamarind for the tangy flavor, and added garlic to introduce a different kind of heat into the rasam. Although I call this a “screaming-hot” rasam, it is more by my fairly wimpy standards of spiciness. You can easily control the heat by using more or less rasam powder or garlic.

Garlic Lemon Rasam
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This delicious Garlic Rasam or Poondu Rasam will leave you asking for more.
Recipe type: Rasam
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4-6
  • ¼ cup split peas cooked with enough water so you have about 2 cups of liquid remaining after cooking
  • 1 tbsp rasam powder
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the hing and mustard seeds.
  3. When the mustard sputters, add the garlic.
  4. Stir the garlic around for a minute or until it turns a light golden-brown. Do not allow it to get too dark as it will turn bitter.
  5. Add curry leaves, green chillies, and tomato.
  6. Cook until the tomato begins to break down.
  7. Add the rasam powder and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the lentils and the cooking liquid.
  9. Add salt and allow the rasam to come to a boil.
  10. Lower the heat and simmer on a low flame about 10 minutes.
  11. Add the lemon juice.
  12. Check salt and turn off heat. Garnish with cilantro.
  13. Serve hot with rice or just by itself, like a soup.


Love rasam? Check out my Jeera Milagu Rasam, also called Cumin Pepper Rasam.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Get new recipes by email. Sign up below.


  1. says

    Hi Vaishali,
    I saw your post on Veg Cooking blog where you were asking about Ener-G Egg Replacer. I too had trouble finding it at our local Whole Foods. Then one day I got lucky and found a clerk who knew it was stocked in the “Gluten Free” section of the store, rather than the baking aisle.
    I’ve got a picture on this post… (A picture being worth a thousand words.)

    Hope that helps.

    Jane of

  2. says

    tbc- you’re right, rasam and potatoes with rice is classic comfort food.

    Lg- thanks!

    Jane- thanks for the link.

    Jayashree- you are so right.

    Anke- you could certainly try making it less spicier. the number of ingredients would still give it enough complexity.

    Vimmi- thanks! let me know how it turns out!

    Kaykat- my husband feels that way too, being from Chennai. He always loves a plate of rice and rasam!

    Sagari and Miri- thanks!

Leave a comment!