Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Vetrilai Rasam

This is a delicious rasam with bold and spicy flavors, and with a good hint of vetrilai or betel leaves. This vegan rasam has health benefits and aids in gut health. The best way to serve this is with cooked rice along with veggies as a side.

Vetrilai or vathalai or paan leaves, Piper Betle, the betel leaves plant is an evergreen and perennial creeper with heart shaped leaves. From ancient times it has been used in Hindu religious rituals. The leaves have a spicy, strong, pungent, and aromatic flavor. The leaves give a lot of health benefits and aids in digestion and gut health. Any festive meal always ends with pann aka vetrilai paaku and this is followed for ages. Our grandparents always chewed on a couple of these leaves with supari after the meal everyday as it aids digestion. An easy way to keep the gut health always on track! Pregnant women were also encouraged to chew a couple of these leaves for the same purpose. A very dilute tea of this leaf with carom seeds is given to kids like a kashayam or kadaa and here is the simple recipe for a tea to help with cold and coughs! The leaves along with carom seeds can be chewed if you can handle that. Betel leaf rocks when it comes to home remedies. 

With all the benefits, it is a great idea to include them in recipes. In today's age, we do not chew on these leaves everyday. So why not add them to food now and then to keep ourselves in good health? I make this rasam at least once a month. This rasam is similar to the jeeraga rasam we make, except that I added the leaves too. Variations are always possible. The spices and dal can be roasted in ghee, ground, and added to rasam. Cooked dal can be added to rasam, or tomatoes can be omitted. Based on what you have and your taste preference, you can adjust the taste of the rasam. 

The betel leaves would also add to the spiciness along with red chilies and black pepper. Sometimes the leaves can be very spicy or mild, and they can be big or small in size. The leaves I got were pretty big and spicier, so used two of them to make rasam. Based on your palette, adjust the quantity of leaves, like between two to four leaves can be used. This recipe is in between medium and high spice level. 

This is a vegan rasam. I have done the tempering with oil. Ghee can also be used if you want a vegetarian version. Ghee adds another dimension of flavor. Finally, add chiffonade of the betel leaves to the rasam as garnish. This is just like how we add cilantro to regular rasam. This garnish also adds to the fresh and bold flavors! 

This is a part of the series I am doing for Blogging Marathon this year. As a part of A-Z Rasams, every month I share recipes for three successive alphabets from A to Z. This month letters are v, w, and X. Vetrilai rasam is the recipe for letter 'V'. You need a good rasam for a comforting meal and here are the links to such rasams I have shared for this series so far. Stay tuned for more interesting and tasty rasams.

U - Ulavacharu/Horsegram Rasam

This is a rasam with bold flavors. I prefer to serve this with Asparagus, Avarakai, or Snake Gourd Curries that are on the milder side. If you love spicy curries, Roasted Potatoes, Vazhakai Fry, or Podi Stuffed Kathrikai are heavenly with this rasam as a side. A bowl of rasam rice is pure and ultimate comfort!

Serves 4 to 6

Tamarind - 1 tsp
Water - 2 and 3/4 cups
Salt -3/4 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Vetrilai/Betel leaves - 2 to 4, torn
Toor dal - 1 tbsp
Dried red chili - 1
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Betel leaves chiffonade - 1 tsp, for garnish


Oil - 1 tsp
Dried red chili - 1, torn
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Asafetida - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Soak the tamarind in half cup warm water for 5-10 minutes. Extract the juice with another half cup of water, and set aside.

Soak the dal for 15-30 minutes in quarter cup water.

Add the tomatoes and turmeric to tamarind water, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked.

In the meantime, grind the dal, betel leaves, red chili, cumin, and black pepper to a coarse mixture. The water from soaking dal can be used to grind this.

Add this ground mixture to the simmering rasam followed by salt and another one and a half cup water. When the rasam begins to boil, remove from the flame.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the red chilies and mustard seeds. When it splutters and the cumin and fry for 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves and asafetida, fry for 20 seconds. Pour this on the rasam.

Garnish with betel leaves chiffonade. Serve with steaming rice and veggies.


  1. Love this rasam. I make this rasam just the way you mentioned and it is a very popular rasam with my in-laws as well.

  2. Never knew that vertrilai could be used to make rasam as well... Sounds good...

  3. I never heard of using betel leaves in gravy or rasam... Very new recipe for me.. thanks for sharing