I am a person who can survive on rasam rice and curd rice or either of the two for any length of time. The meal does not seem to be complete if either of the two are missing. I can forego sambar but never rasam or curd.

Such being the case, I love to try out the different types of rasam but mom’s versions are my favorite. Her bele saaru / Rasam with dal and this recipe that I am posting today are her signature dishes.

This rasam / Saaru is prepared without toor dal and rasam powder.Instead of the usual rasam powder jeerige[pronounced – Jee-ri-gay] menasu[pronounced- Me-na-su] pudi is used.

 It is very apt to serve with steamed rice when the first dish of the meal is heavy and we need a lighter accompaniment for rice as the second dish of the meal. This is the ‘go to’ dish to have when we have a cough/ runny nose and also when we suffer from an upset  tummy. It is easy to digest as there is no dal and also good for digestion as it has cumin and also soothes the throat because it has pepper in it.

The vessel that is used to prepare Saaru/rasam is called ‘seestha kanchu‘ or eya chombu.
It is made of lead!We are aware of the effects of lead when consumed
but our fore fathers made vessels of lead and cooked food in it to get a
super flavor without poisoning our system.Well, the vessel is not made
entirely of lead but is an alloy of lead and tin.

This vessel is quite expensive compared to a stainless steel vessel of the same size!Also we have to be very careful while cooking
food in this vessel. It melts when kept on high flame.Yes, it will melt
and all you can see is a blob of metal on the stove! It is advisable to
put something to cook into the vessel and then light the stove and cook
the whole dish on simmer mode.

I borrowed mom’s vessel so that I can get the authentic taste and also use it as a prop. But when I started cooking, I made it in the regular pan and then transferred the hot rasam into the seestha kanchu. When the hot liquid sits inside the vessel, the taste definitely changes and it also becomes more aromatic.

This dish was decided for the alphabet J as soon as I started making the list but I made this just a couple of days back!

I used:

For the Jeerige Menasu Pudi / Cumin pepper powder

Thuppa / Ghee- 1 teaspoon
Jeerige / Cumin seeds- 1 tablespoon
Menasu / Pepper corns- 1 tablespoon

For the saaru / Rasam

Tomato- 1 large
Hunise Hannu /Tamarind- a small gooseberry sized ball
Ingu / Asafoetida – a pinch
Karibevu / Curry leaves- a few
Uppu / Salt to taste
Arisina Pudi / Turmeric powder- a small pinch 
Kothamari soppu / Coriander leaves- a few

Ogarne / Seasoning:

Thuppa / ghee – 1 teapsoon
Sasve / mustard seeds- 1/2 teaspoons
Jeerige/ Cumin seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Ingu / Asafoetida – a pinch

First let us make the spice mix. Heat ghee in a pan and the cumin and pepper. Roast till the cumin sizzles and the pepper starts popping. Remove from heat. Grind to a fine powder using a motor and pestle. This gives the powder an awesome taste. If making a large batch / if you don’t have a motor and pestle, grind to a powder in a mixie.

 Pressure cook the tomato with a little water. Once it is cool enough to handle, mash well and remove the skin. Put in the ball of tamarind and curry leaves.

Add asafoetida powder, cumin-pepper powder. Add water to make upto 3/4 th of the vessel in which you are going to make this dish. I added around 2 cups of water.

Now heat the mixture in the same vessel or transfer into a pan.Let it come to a rolling boil. Add turmeric powder, salt.Simmer for 5 minutes. When it becomes frothy,remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Add coriander leaves.

Now heat a small pan and add the ghee.Put in mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard pops. add asafoetida powder and remove from heat. Pour into the Saaru/ rasam

Delicious rasam is ready to be served as a soup / with steamed rice and a dollop of ghee.


  • The quantity of the spice mix will vary on the taste you prefer. It has to be mildly spicy. I added 2 teaspoons. It will also vary on the quantity of water you add while cooking.
  • Ghee is a must for roasting the spices and also for the seasoning.
  • The excess spice mix can be stored in an air tight container and used later as needed.

This post also goes to the A-Z Challenge 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

23 thoughts on “Jeerige Menasu Saaru | Cumin and Pepper Flavored Rasam”

  1. That is a very flavorful and delicious rasam. Such simple ingredients, but so much flavor — love this traditional dish and the pot that is cooked in.

  2. This is one of my favorite rasams. Even we use the same ingredients minus hing, but the preparation is lightly different. Regardless, it is flavorful and mouthwatering rasam.

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