Seafood Rasam

If you are familiar with rasams the idea of a seafood rasam may seem outlandish to you. Indeed, it would probably seem so to most Indians in India as well. In North India, in particular, South Indian food has long been associated with vegetarianism, and the same is true to an even larger extent outside India. The truth, in fact, is that the South is far more massively non-vegetarian than the North. Of course, in recent years non-vegetarian South Indian food has made more inroads into the North: the food of Kerala in particular has become more available and popular. Certain dishes, however, continue to be associated with vegetarianism, among them rasam, familiar to most North Indians as the peppery broth one drinks before getting stuck into a meal of idli-dosa-vada with sambar and coconut chutney. But, of course, that’s merely the hegemony of upper-caste Hindu norms at play. Non-vegetarian rasams abound in the South. All this to say that there is nothing very unusual or creative about the fact that this is a recipe for rasam with seafood. Which is not to suggest that what I have for you is a traditional recipe for seafood rasam. I have merely taken my usual prep for simple tomato rasam and enhanced the broth with the shellfish.


  • 6-8 prawns, about 1/2 lb, preferably with heads on
  • 1 lb mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 1/2 lb scallops, the larger the better
  • 1 tspn black mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • The following ground together to a coarse powder: 1 tspn cumin seeds, 1 tspn coriander seeds, 1 tspn fennel seeds, 1 tspn black peppercorns, 2-3 hot dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes with juice
  • Salt
  • 1/2 + 1/2 tblspn ghee
  • 4 cups hot water from a kettle
  • 1 tblspn chopped cilantro
  • A small wedge of lime for each person


  1. Heat 1/2 tblspn ghee in a saucepan over medium heat and add the prawns. Saute for 2 minutes or so on each side and remove to a plate.
  2. Add the other 1/2 tblspn of ghee to the pan and when hot add the mustard seeds.
  3. As soon as the mustard seeds start popping add the curry leaves.
  4. When the curry leaves get glossy add the minced onion and saute till softened.
  5. Add the powdered spices and turmeric and saute for 30 seconds or so.
  6. Add the tomatoes, mix in and saute till almost fully broken down.
  7. Return the prawns to the pan, add the hot water and bring to a high simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  8. Add the mussels and cover the pan till all the mussels have opened.
  9. Taste and adjust salt to preference.
  10. Add the scallops, cover the pan and turn the heat off.
  11. Let sit for 10 minutes or so, add the cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


  1. The combination of seafood is really up to you but the mussels really make this for me.
  2. Ditto for head-on prawns. The texture of head-on prawns is superior and the roe in the heads (plus the extra shell) gives the broth an extra depth. If you don’t have access to whole prawns you could sub crab in the shell.
  3. And instead of scallops you could very easily add cubed firm fish of choice.
  4. You can serve this as a smaller soup course in a bowl or make a heartier meal of it along with rice.
  5. And, of course, you can leave out the seafood altogether to turn this into simple tomato rasam.




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