Rasam Fiji style is a South Indian style side dish that is usually made with tamarind (imli). There are many different variations of this recipe such as the rasam made with coconut milk or tomatoes. In Fiji, most families make tamarind rasam to accompany meat dishes and even as a side dish to vegetarian meals like boda. Rasam is a very quick side dish to make as it only takes a few minutes to cook and only uses a few ingredients.
Fresh tamarind is recommended for this recipe but can be quite difficult to find so packaged tamarind will suffice. The taste can be a little different but it will still be delicious. We use fresh tamarind when available or packaged tamarind from India or Asia. It is good to find tamarind that hasn’t hardened too much as it becomes dry and a bit off in flavour. Fresh tamarind is usually best if you can buy it from farmers markets in Fiji or if you can buy it from sellers on online marketplaces. Local tamarind tree owners will usually advertise them for sale when in season, especially in warmer climates such as Queensland in Australia where tamarind trees thrive.
Rasam Fiji style requires a lot of cracked black pepper (golmirch) and curry leaves (tej patti) to enhance its flavour. Fresh curry leaves are very crucial to this recipe – as it brings depth to the rasam. However, if you’re struggling to find fresh curry leaves, dried and packaged curry leaves can be used but be sure to put a tad bit extra to enhance the flavour.
If your rasam becomes too sour, add a half teaspoon of sugar and mix through to balance the sourness. But be careful not to put too much or it will become too sweet and lose its essence. You can store rasam for up to a week in the fridge and up to a month in the freezer. You can also make a large batch by doubling this recipe and storing it to have with meals throughout the week. Rasam has been known to be healthy for your guts as the tamarind helps with digestion so having this as a side dish with meat is especially favoured.
50g Tamarind (Imli)
1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
1 Tbsp Crushed Black Pepper (Golmirch)
4 Garlic Cloves
Chillies – To Taste
¼ Brown Onion
4 Sprigs Curry Leaves (with Stalk)
4 Cups Water
1-2 Tbsp Oil
Salt – to taste
- Soak tamarind in water and extract the pulp using your fingers. Discard any seeds and fibres from the mixture and set aside
- In a saucepan, heat oil on medium heat and add cumin seeds, cook till it becomes aromatic
- Then throw in the curry leaves (it helps to tie them into a bundle) and cook for a minute
- Make a paste with onion, garlic and chillies and add to the saucepan. Cook till the paste turns brown
- Add the tamarind extract and mix in the black pepper and salt
- Simmer the ingredients on low heat for 10-15 minutes or till the rasam becomes fragrant. This helps extract flavour from the pepper and curry leaves
- Add the 4 cups of water, let simmer for another 5 minutes
- Turn off the heat and serve warm or at room temperature as a side dish to meat curries or vegetarian meals.