For me, any kind of food that reminds me of Amma is soul food. Because she put her heart and soul into whatever she cooked... and all her love. Rasam was almost a daily affair. You could use a readymade powder (MTR is best) but nothing beats the rasam powder you can make at home. Have with rice or drink as soup... Of the many varieties of rasam (more to follow) this one is the simplest.
Basic rasam powder
1tbsp tuvar dal
1tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1tbsp pepper corns
3 red chillies (would recommend adding more pepper if you want it spicy)
A pinch of asofoetida powder
Dry roast all ingredients and powder finely.
Ingredients for rasam
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of jaggery
1 small piece of tamarind
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 green chillies slit
1tbsp boiled tuvar dal (optional)
1tsp mustard and 1tsp cumin (for tempering)
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing
Mix the tamarind with water and squeeze out the juice. Make 3 cups and bring to boil in a vessel. Add turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes, salt, slit green chillies and jaggery. Add 1tbsp of the rasam powder. Check for taste... if you want it spicy add a little more. Boil for 5-7 minutes on medium heat till tomatoes are tender. Add tuvar dal, adding water to bring to rasam consistency. Lower flame and boil for 5 more minutes till a thin foam like layer appears on top. Switch off flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. In a pan, add ghee, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they splutter, switch off flame. Add a pinch of asofoetida... and pour over rasam.
Tip: If you want to omit tamarind, squeeze juice of a lemon at the end (after you remove rasam from the stove)