Mussels in Light Broth

Asha Gomez

The Third Space, Atlanta

JBF Boot Camp alum Asha Gomez explains: "Rasam as traditionally prepared in in Southern India uses either tamarind or tomatoes as the base. It is a piquant broth poured over steaming hot rice. In our home both in Kerala and America, rasam was a staple part of everyday meals. One night when I was a teenager, I was out to dinner with my brother Tom and ate mussels cooked in a light tomato broth very reminiscent of rasam. I couldn’t wait to get home, buy fresh mussels, and cook them in rasam. Make sure to have some fresh crusty bread to soak up the tomato mussel broth."


Mussels in Light Broth:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 10 to 12 whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • 16 ounces canned crushed tomatoes or 2 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1 tablespoon tempered oil

Tempered Oil:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds


Prepare the mussels: in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, add the canola oil. Add the garlic, cumin, ginger, black peppercorns, salt, and asafoetida. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the cilantro and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups of water and cook for 8 minutes over low heat. Add the mussels and cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the mussels have opened.

While the mussels are cooking, make the tempered oil: in a small pan over medium heat, add the oil. Add the curry leaves and the mustard seeds. After about 30 seconds, the mustard seeds will begin to pop; remove the pot from the flame and set aside.

Assemble the dish: Remove the pot of mussels from the heat. Transfer the mussels and broth to a serving bowl and drizzle the tempered oil on top.

Reprinted with permission from My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen © 2016 by Asha Gomez with Martha Hall Foose, Running Press


4 servings