Tomato Pappu also known as Andhra pappu or Tomato Dal, is a basic lentil dish from Andhra cuisine. An Andhra meal is incomplete without a lentil dish cooked with some veggie, curry leaves & spices. This Tomato Pappu is made very often in Telugu Speaking homes and is eaten with plain steamed rice, Ghee and Avakaya (Andhra style hot mango pickle). This is the only recipe you will ever need to make a delicious, rich and healthy Andhra pappu.
About Tomato Pappu
Tomato Pappu is just dal cooked with lots of tomatoes, spices and herbs in Andhra style. “Pappu” is a Telugu Word that translates to “Dal” (lentils). Andhra tomato pappu is a winner for its simplicity and unique taste. The dish is super simple to make and starts by pressure cooking dal and tomatoes until soft.
Later the cooked tomato pappu is tempered with curry leaves, red chili, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and garlic.
With this basic authentic Andhra Pappu Recipe, you can make tons of variations by adding your favorite veggies or even leafy greens. The recipe I am sharing here is the most common method followed in Telugu speaking homes and even in Andhra restaurants.
If you have ever tasted a pappu from an Authentic Andhra restaurant and loved it then this recipe may help you recreate it.
The key ingredient in a tomato pappu recipe is the tamarind that brings in a unique taste & flavor when it is pressure cooked along with the dal.
Andhra pappu is usually made with only toor dal known as kandi pappu. Feel free to use a small portion of moong dal to enhance the taste. Most times I use it that way.
How to Make Tomato Pappu (Stepwise Pics)
Pressure cook dal and tomatoes
1. To make tomato pappu you can cook the dal directly in a pressure cooker or cook pot-in-pot in the cooker. If you do not have a cooker you can make this in a sauce pot following my recipe instructions in the recipe card below. If you own a Instant pot, you can cook this in the Instant pot too following the same method.
2. Add ½ cup dal to a bowl or cooker or pot. If you want you may add 2 tablespoons of moong dal too & add more water as required.
3. Rinse the dal at least thrice until the water runs clear. Drain the water.
4. Add 1 to 2 green chilies and a small piece of cleaned tamarind. If you want you can also rinse the tamarind first.
5. Next add 2 chopped tomatoes. I prefer to deseed the tomatoes. Pour 1 cup water and ⅛ teaspoon turmeric. You can also add turmeric later after cooking. A lot of people also add a sliced onion and some red chilli powder. If you want you may add a small sliced onion and 1/4 tsp red chilli powder.
6. Pour water in your cooker. I use about 1 ½ cups water. Place the steam rack or plate.
7. Keep the bowl in the cooker.
8. Cover the bowl. If you want you can also cook the rice together if you have a large cooker. For this add your rice to another bowl. Rinse well, drain and pour the required amount of water and keep in the cooker, over the dal bowl.
9. Pressure cook for 3 to 5 whistles on a medium heat depending on the kind of cooker. If cooking directly in cooker, then let it whistle twice. If using a Instant pot, set the timer to 10 mins.
10. When the pressure drops open the lid. Dal and tomatoes have to be soft cooked. If you have kids, you can set their portion aside before mashing the chilies and tempering. I usually do it for my younger boy.
11. Mash and check the consistency. If it is too thick for your liking, pour little hot water & mix to adjust the consistency.
12. Add ⅓ teaspoon salt and mix. Taste test and adjust salt.
Temper Tomato Dal
13. Poppu or Tempering can be done in 2 ways. First method is to temper in a small pan and pour it to the cooked dal. The second method is to pour the entire cooked dal to the tempering pan. This method doubles the taste and flavor of tomato pappu.
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. Add ¼ teaspoon mustard, ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 dried red chili (broken).
14. When they begin to splutter, lower the heat if needed. Add garlic and curry leaves.
15. When they turn crisp, add ½ tsp red chili powder. Skip the red chilli powder at this step or use little if you have already added to the lentils while pressure cooking.
16. Quickly mix it with ghee.
17. Pour the tomato dal to the pan.
18. Turn off the stove and mix well. If you cook longer at this stage the dal begins to splatter.
Serve tomato pappu with rice, avakaya and ghee.
1. I have not used onions as we don’t like the pressure cooked flavor of onions in pappu. If you like to use add about 2 to 3 tbsp chopped onions.
2. Red chili powder is usually added to the pressure cooker along with tomatoes. Again it is personal choice, I prefer to add it to the tempering.
3. If making for toddlers or young kids, then set aside their portion after pressure cooking (before tempering with chilli). Just add ghee, salt and pepper to their portion.
Tomato Pappu Recipe (Andhra Tomato Dal)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
To cook pappu
- ½ cup split pigeon peas (kandi pappu or toor dal)
- 2 medium tomatoes ¾ cup chopped ( I also deseed)
- 1 to 2 green chilies slit or chopped
- 1 cup water (more to adjust, if needed)
- ½ to 1 tablespoon tamarind (chintapandu, adjust to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1½ tbsp Ghee (or oil)
- 1 sprig curry leaves or kadi patta
- ¼ teaspoon cumin (jeera)
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic crushed (if you don't use garlic, use ½ teaspoon ginger)
- 1 red chilli (broken)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 pinch hing (optional)
How to make Tomato Pappu in Pressure cooker
- Add toor dal to a cooker or a large bowl. Rinse at least thrice. Drain the water. Pour 1 cup water to the dal.
- Then add tomatoes, tamarind, green chilies and turmeric.
- Pour 1½ cups water to the pressure cooker or instant pot and place the rack or bottom plate.
- Place the dal bowl inside in your cooker and cover. If you want you can also cook the rice in the same cooker, for this simply rinse your rice in another bowl, pour water and place it over the dal bowl.
- Pressure cook on a medium heat for 3 whistles. If you are coking directly in the cooker, then cook until you hear 2 whistles. If using Instant pot set the timer to 10 minutes.
- Once the pressure drops open the lid. Add salt and mash the dal to slightly coarse or smooth texture to suit your taste. To adjust the consistency you can very well add more hot water.
Temper Tomato Pappu
- Heat a pan with ghee or oil. Add cumin, mustard. When they begin to splutter, add red chilies, garlic and curry leaves. If needed you can add more green chili as well.
- Fry till the leaves turn crisp. Add red chili powder & hing (optional). Quickly stir in the pan and pour the mashed dal to the tempering. Alternately you may pour the tempering to the dal.
- Mix well and do not cook further to avoid splatters. Serve tomato pappu with with rice, ghee and avakaya.
Cook Tomato Pappu in a Pot without cooker
- Rinse and Soak the dal for 30 minutes. Drain the water. Pour 1 cup water and bring to a rapid boil.
- Lower the heat and cook on a medium to low flame for 3 to 4 mins. Remove any froth that arises on top with a spoon and discard. Cook until the pappu is soft and completely cooked
- If your pappu is undercooked, simply pour more hot water and cook until soft.
- While the dal cooks, In another pan heat ghee or oil. When hot add mustard, cumin, red chilies and garlic. When the garlic turns aromatic, stir in curry leaves.
- Stir in red chilli powder, turmeric & hing. Add the tomatoes and cook until they turn soft and pulpy. Add this to the soft cooked pappu. Mix well and taste test. Adjust salt as needed.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Tomato Pappu Recipe first published in September 2014. Updated & republished in Jan 2023.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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