Tomato Dal, or “Tomato Pappu,” is a tangy comfort food dish from Andhra Pradesh. It gets its tanginess and depth from the mix of tomatoes and tamarind. This mix of tomatoes and tamarind is a classic combination in food from Andhra Pradesh.
You will often find Tomato Dal served at weddings in Andhra Pradesh. The dal used in Tomato Dal is tuvar or pigeon pea.
Tomato Dal is quite a simple dal to make and very forgiving. Yet it rewards you with so much flavor. You throw everything together in a pot, add a mash, and vaghar. Very simple. You don’t even have to sautee the onions beforehand!
The only thing that is at all tricky is the tamarind water. Make sure you remove all of the seeds from the tamarind. It’s not the end of the world if they do get in there, you can easily spit them out.
Tomato dal is typically made very spicy, but you can easily customize the heat level by adding more or less chili. Mine has a bit of a yellow tint, but some versions of this dish are a much deeper red because of the amount of chili powder people use. To get more redness, add a little more chili powder and remove some dried chilies to make up for the change.
Tomato Dal (Tomato Pappu)
- 1 cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils)
- 3 large tomatoes (or 4 medium)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp dry tamarind pulp, packed (about 1/2" ball)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder (Kashmiri chili powder or paprika)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin
- ⅛ tsp hing (asafetida)
- 20 curry leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1-2 diced red chilies
- red chili powder to taste
- 1 tsp urad dal
- Soak the tamarind in a small bowl of water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze the pulp in the water to extract the flavors. Take out any seeds and strings. Add the tamarind water to an Instant ot or pressure cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients listed under "dal" to the same Instant Pot or pressure cooker with 3 cups of
- Pressure cook for 8 minutes
- Use a natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes
- Mash the cooked dal
- In a small pan, heat the ghee
- Add each ingredient listed under vaghar, in order, allowing a few seconds in between for each ingredient to bloom.
- Top the dal with your vaghar and serve.