Rasam is a thin and very spicy southern Indian soup served alone or combined with other foods, such as rice, as a side dish. There are several different ingredients you can put into a rasam but this particular recipe uses pigeon peas, tomatoes, and a variety of spices and aromatics including mustard seeds, cumin, cilantro, turmeric, and lemon juice. Serve this delicious soup with some steamed rice or curry.

Lemon Rasam: South Indian Spicy Soup [Vegan]




Cooking Time




For the Base:

  • 2 tablespoons pigeon peas
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped or ground to a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambar powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

For the Spice Powder:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
  • 1-2 green chilis

For Tempering:

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 dry red chili

For Topping:

  • Lemon juice


  1. Cook the pigeon peas peas until mushy. Add 1/2 cup water, mash well, and keep aside.
  2. Grind the ingredients for the spice powder.
  3. In a bowl, add the chopped or ground tomatoes, freshly ground spice powder, sambar powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
  4. Stir in the cooked peas and cilantro.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons oil, add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, and once the seeds start to splutter, add asafoetida, dry red chili, and curry leaves.
  6. Add the tomato-peas mixture and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Sprinkle some cilantro and cover the pot and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot with steamed rice and curry.