Tamata pappu - Toor dal, tomatoes and some basic Indian spices is all you need to prepare this mouthwatering tomato dal. A comfort food, and a go to recipe for quick meal fixes.
Tomato pappu or tomato dal is one of the popular dishes from Telugu speaking states in India. It goes well with rice and roti. Rice, tomato pappu with some rasam or pachi pulusu is a soul food. Tamata pappu, rice and a mango pickle on the side is go to food for many in the region.
Table of contents
- Toor Dal - is kandi pappu in telugu and also known as arhar dal in some parts of India. These are dried pigeon peas lentils and one of the most popular dals used in Indian cooking.
- Tomatoes - use sour and tart tomatoes. Quantity of tomatoes depends on how acidic and sour the tomatoes are. I prefer vine ripe tomatoes. For folks in India, use the desi kind and not the hybrid tomatoes which have a thick skin, are oblong and sweetish in taste.
- Chilies - my personal preference is green chilies and very little or no chili powder. You can use red chilies in tempering but I usually skip.
- Other Ingredients - cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions, crushed garlic, coriander powder, turmeric powder and fenugreek powder (opt). And off course oil for tempering. Skip onion garlic when making it a no onion garlic recipe and use some hing.
There are two ways to cook tamata pappu. First method is to pre-cook toor dal and prepare the tempering. Cook tomatoes in the tempering, then add to cooked dal and boil until done.
Second method is a one pot dish, in which, prepare the tempering first, add uncooked lentils and pressure cook until the lentils are soft. For this method, use only pressure cooker.
And there is a third method too, which is a combination for the above two. Cook tomatoes, onions and green chilies along with toor dal, prepare tempering with seeds and powders, pour it over cooked toor and finish it off. Regardless of the method you chose, it is a finger licking pappu!
You can cook toor dal in a pressure cooker, either on stovetop or in an electric pressure cooker such as Instant Pot. Or you can cook the dal in a pot on the stove top, which is very time consuming.
Recipe calls for onions and garlic. For those who want a no onion no garlic recipe, skip these two ingredients and use hing ~ asafoetida in place of garlic. Hing is a must when not using garlic. Even with garlic, you can add a pinch of hing in the tempering, which I don't use.
- Wash toor dal. If you have time, soak for 30-60 minutes. Take it in a pressure cooker with few drops of oil, few cumin seeds and pressure cook until soft. Let pressure release naturally, open the lid and mash the pappu.
- In a separate pot or a pan, heat oil for tempering. When oil is hot, add mustard, cumin, and let the seeds splutter. Then saute onions, green chiles and garlic. Add the powders, tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft.
- Then add cooked pappu, roast for a few minutes, add water to desired consistency, bring to a boil and boil for few minutes.
- Taste pappu, adjust spices, sprinkle cilantro and turn off the flame.
Tamatar ki dal goes well with both rice and flatbreads. Tamata pappu and miryala chaaru with rice is a great combination and in summers it is pappu and pachi pulusu. Any pappu tastes good with some pickle on the side, this dal is not exception. Rice, pappu and mango pickle or roti, dal and achar is one classic combination.
- Moong Dal - is a good substitute for toor dal. When using moong, I use only green chilies for heat. I prefer only green chilies even with toor dal, however, you can add some chili powder.
- Tamarind - If you can not source tangy sour tomatoes, use a combination of tomatoes and tamarind. You can add tamarind pulp along with pre-cooked pappu, after tomatoes are soft.
- Hing or asafoetida - Replace garlic with hing. If you don't mind, you can use little bit garlic and hing as well. To make it a no onion no garlic recipe, skip onion and use only garlic.
Refrigerate leftover pappu and reheat on stovetop or in microwave before serving. Mind you consistency of pappu thickens when it cools. When reheating on stovetop, you can adjust the consistency by adding some water.
- Soak toor dal for 30 - 60 minutes for soft mushy dal. This is an optional step. Soaking helps in cooking faster and getting a soft mushy dal.
- Meal Prep - you can precook toor dal and refrigerate for 1-2 days or freeze in small containers for up to few months. When preparing dal, just do the tempering, add cooked dal and cook until done.
- Use pressure cooker to speed up the precooking process.
- Add a few drops of oil when pressure cooking the lentils.
A-Z Telangana Cuisine
This post is part of the A-Z series regional cuisine and the cuisine in spotlight is Telugu Telangana food. Hyderabad food is part of Telangana cuisine but I have excluded those for this series. For T, I picked tamata pappu.
Other food starting with T from this region are tapala chekka / sarva pindi, tamata perugu pachadi (tomato yogurt chutney), tamata pachadi (pickle), tamata ukkera (tomato curry), tamata charu and tamata shorva. You can check the full A-Z Telangana Telugu cuisine series here.
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- 1 Pressure Cooker
- 1 Potato masher or Spoon to mash dal
- 1 Cutting Board and Knife
- 1 Wooden Spoon
- 1 Saucepan or Frying Pan
- ¼ cup Toor Dal
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- Few drops of Oil
- 1 cup Water
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- ¼ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 5 Curry Leaves
- 1 small Onion sliced or diced
- 3 small Green Chilies cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon crushed Garlic Cloves
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Chili Powder optional
- ¾ - 1 teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- 1 large Vine Ripe Tomatoes diced (about 1 cup)
- Cooked Toor Dal
- 1 cup Water
- Coriander Leaves ~ Cilantro for garnish
- Cook toor dal in a pressure cooker, either on stovetop or using an electric pressure cooker. You can also cook toor dal in a pot on the stove top, which is time consuming.
- Wash toor dal. If you have time, soak for 30-60 minutes.
- Take all the ingredients listed under 'pre-cook dal' to a pressure cooker. Cook until dal is soft. In my stovetop pressure cooker it takes 7 whistles and then 5 minutes on low. In Instant Pot, it is 10 minutes on manual.
- Let pressure release naturally, open the lid and mash the dal.
- You pre-cook dal beforehand and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for few months.
- Heat oil in a saucepan or a saute pan, add mustard seeds and let the seeds splutter. Then add cumins seeds.
- Saute green chilies, curry leaves in the same oil until curry leaves wither.
- Saute onions until soft.
- Add crushed garlic and saute for a few seconds.
- Now add the spices; coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder (opt), salt and mix well. Roast for a few seconds.
- Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are just soft but not mushy.
- Add cooked dal and cook for a minute or two until spices blend in.
- Add water to desired consistency, bring to a boil and let it boil for a few minutes until tomatoes are soft and blend into the dal. Dal should not be very thick and at the same time, not very watery either.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Add chopped cilantro / coriander leaves and turn off the fire.
- Serve hot with roti or rice.
- Cooking Time - of kandi pappu or toor dal could vary depending on the quality of pappu. It usually takes 8 minutes but this current batch takes 10 - 12 minutes. Soaking the dal for 30 minutes really helps.
- Variation to Pre-Cooking Dal - you can cook dal along with tomatoes, few curry leaves, some of the garlic and few coriander leaves. Though curry leaves, garlic and coriander leaves are added when pre-cookings, these are added again when preparing tamata pappu.
- One Pot Dish - I like preparing dal in two steps, pre-cook lentils and then preparing tomato dal. If one wishes to make it a one pot dish, skip pre-cook dal step. Prepare the tempering, roast tomatoes and uncooked dal for a minute, add water and pressure cook until dal is soft. Once pressure releases naturally, check consistency of the dal, add more water if required, bring to boil, boil for a few minutes, remove from fire and garnish with cilantro. In this method of preparation, if using chili powder, add after pressure cooking the dal.
- Moong Dal - I used toor dal but moong dal can also be used. If using moong dal, use only green chilies for heat and no chili powder. You can use red chilies in tadka / tempering but I personally don't like red chiles. Even if I do use, I discard the chilies as soon as the dal is cooked.
- Consistency of Pappu - We prefer thinner and flowing consistency pappu and hence used about 1 cup of water to dilute the pappu. My version is more like thick pappu charu. Use less water for a thick consistency pappu.
This post was originally published in April 2016. Update it with new content and some new images.