Food / Recipes

Mountbatten Mani Iyer’s Watermelon Rasam –

Watermelon Rasam

Learning from a celebrated chef, is something anyone who enjoys dreams of.  Mine began with the dream realized and I ticked off some items on my 2016 wishlist, as I got to learn authentic recipes from the Legendary Mountbatten Mani Iyer. With modest beginnings he started cooking at the age of 14 for weddings, and today at 84, he is a doyen in the Madras wedding catering scene.  I had a great time shooting with him  for my food and travel show.He is an encyclopedia on traditional South Indian food. The man’s zeal and sheer spirit didn’t fail to amaze me. A stickler for the way food should be cooked patiently and in the most traditional way, he teaches me how to make watermelon rasam. Here’s the recipe and the video of how it is made:


  • Tamarind juice – 1 cup (from a tiny ball of tamarind)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Hing/ asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – to taste (preferably rock salt)
  • Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Watermelon juice – 3 cups (strained without seeds)
  • Rasam powder 1 – coarse powder of whole pepper & Jeera/ Cumin seeds (2:1 ratio)
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Cooked toor dhal – 1 cup (this should be extremely watery and should have no trace of dhal)
  • Rasam powder 2 for garnish (recipe below)

Note on rasam powders 1 & 2: There are 2 powders that need to be used to make this rasam. Rasam powder 1 should be added while making the rasam and Rasam garnish powder to be added after the rasam is made.

Ingredients to make rasam powder 2: (this powder to be made preferably before making the rasam for freshness and  added flavour)

  • Ghee – 1tsp
  • Hing / asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • Toor Dhal – 1.5 tbsp
  • Channa Dhal – 1.5 tbsp
  • Pepper – 1.5 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds – 3 tbsp
  • Whole red chilly – 10 nos (can increase if you want more spice)
  • Jeera – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves
  • Coriander leaves – finely chopped

Rasam powder 2 (recipe)

  • Heat ghee in a wok, add toor dhal, channa dhal and fry till golden brown and add pepper corns
  • Once they pepper corn cplutters, add coriander seeds and fry till golden brown (or till the raw smell dissappears)
  • Add red chillies and fry till the red chillies inflate and are fried.
  • Add curry leaves and once you hear them crackle add some jeera and immediately turn off the flame
  • Cool this mixture down and grind to a coarse powder (roasted rava like texture)

Method to make Watermelon Rasam:

  • Pour tamarind juice into a wok and add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, hing, salt, curry leaves and jaggery and bring to a boil
  • Add a little water to the boiling mixture if you think it is a little too thick
  • Let it boil till the raw smell of the tamarind fades and add chopped coriander leaves
  • Now add the rasam powder. Allow to boil and add the watermelon juice
  • Add some pepper powder (need to check 5:13 youtube)and let it boil. The colour is a lovely deep red colour
  • Add the cooked dhal water and let it boil just a little bit
  • Add the powder that is used to garnish and immediately turn off the flame
  • Add ghee in a separate wok, temper mustard seeds, jeera and pour over rasam
  • Add a squeeze of half a lemon

NOTE: The tempering and squeezing of lemon is done after turning off the stove always.

Here’s the video of Shri.Mountbatten Mani Iyer teaching me the recipe.


Try and use your hand as much as possible while cooking, especially while making Rasam. Your hand imparts flavour that no ladle can. This was a secret tip that Shri. Mountbatten Mani Iyer personally shared with me.

Photo courtesy – Mrs. Hazeena Seyad of Saute, fry n bake after trying and testing this recipe. She’s got some fabulous recipes on her blog. Check it out. Saute,fry n bake

About Author

The musings of two Chennaiites seeking to discover the world through food and travel. As they open themselves up to adventure, the accompanying puliyogare, travels well and ensures that the idea of home is never lost


  • Priya Madhu
    January 12, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. Great honor to have cooked with the Legend. Lucky U. Ur passion has truly led u this far. Will try this recipe this weekend.

  • arunvblogger
    February 12, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Wanna taste his preparation once… Shri. Mountbatten Mani Iyer’s!!!!!

  • Vidya Ramani
    May 12, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Watermelon rasam
    Hearing and seeing the recipe for the first time
    Yummy feel when I read the recipe

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