South Indian vibes: Red Lentil Tomato “Rasambar”

My culinary memories of South India are laced with an impressive array of  rice-based creations and infused with the hearty and warm smell of sambar and rasam. Sambar is a thick stew that combines pulse and vegetables, while its versatile sibling rasam resembles a thin, clear and spicy soup. 

Some time ago, I  looked up a tomato rasam recipe and passed to action. I used red split lentils that are a staple in my pantry. My stew came out thick as a sambar and spiced as a rasam, whereby the name rasambar

The cooking process is particularly  enjoyable. Already while processing the fresh coriander stems in the mortar and pestle you will feel a delicious aroma spreading. Personally, I was immediately teleported to the subcontinent…

The coriander stems, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds are processed with a mortar and pestle.


This lentil stew is not only heart-warming, but also very nutritious. Lentils are full of cholesterol-lowering fibre and a good source of protein and minerals. At the same time, they contain no fat and are low in calories.  I like eating my rasambar with Indian-style savoury pancakes (dosai), or as a spread on a piece of toast. Of course, it also goes perfectly with rice.

Rasambar eaten with homemade dosai


Red Lentil Tomato Rasambar
Serves 4
A tasty and nutritious red lentil stew, inspired by the South Indian popular dishes sambar and rasam.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 80 g red (split) lentils (100 ml)
  2. 300 ml water
  3. 300 ml tomato concasse
  1. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  2. 2 cm ginger, minced
  3. 30-40 g coriander stems from one batch of fresh coriander
  4. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  5. 1 tsp asafoetida
  6. 1 tsp curry leaf powder (optional)
  7. 1 tsp turmeric
  8. 0.5 tsp chili flakes
  9. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. oil and/or butter
  12. some coriander leaves for decoration
  1. Wash the lentils and strain them
  2. Mince the garlic and the ginger
  3. Wash the coriander, cut off the stems and chop them into smaller pieces; keep the leaves
  4. Process the garlic, ginger, cumin and coriander with a mortar and pestle until you have obtained a coarse paste
  5. Heat up a tsp of oil in a cooking pot and add the mustard seeds, half cover the pot with the lid and let the seeds pop
  6. Add the bayleaf
  7. Add the lentils and the spices and fry for a minute or so, all while stirring
  8. Add the coriander paste and keep stirring for another minute
  9. Add the tomato concasse and the water
  10. Let simmer on slow to medium heat for about 30 min until the lentils are really soft.
  1. Serve the lentils with rice or another cereal of your choice, combine with savoury pancakes, or enjoy on a piece of toast.
  2. For a more soup-like result, you can add another 200 ml of water.
The Chick on a Pea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *