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 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.
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 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. I usually cook the dal directly in a pressure cooker. But for this post I have shown it in a bowl and then placed it in cooker. If you do not have a cooker you can make this in a pot.
2. Add ½ cup dal to a bowl or cooker or pot.
3. Wash the dal several times until the water runs clear. Drain the water.
4. Add 1 to 2 green chilies and cleaned a small piece of tamarind.
5. Next add 2 chopped tomatoes. I prefer to deseed the tomatoes. Pour 1 cup water and little 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 onion and 1/4 tsp red chilli powder.
6. Pour water in your cooker. I used about 1 ½ cups water. Place the steam rack or plate.
7. Keep the bowl in the cooker.
8. Cover the 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 cooking in a pot, add more water as needed and cook until soft.
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. Pour little water if needed to adjust the consistency.
12. Add salt and mix.
Tempering 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.
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 | 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 cubed ( I also deseed)
- 1 to 2 green chilies slit or chopped
- 1 cup water
- ½ to 1 tbsp tamarind or chintapandu (use as needed)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric or haldi
Tempering tomato pappu
- 1½ tbsp Ghee (or oil)
- 1 sprig curry leaves or kadi patta
- ¼ tsp cumin (jeera)
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic crushed (if you don’t use garlic, use ginger)
- 1 red chilli (broken)
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 pinch hing (optional)
- Add toor dal to a cooker or pot or a large bowl. Wash until the water runs clear. Pour 1 cup water to the dal.
- Then add tomatoes, tamarind,green chilies and turmeric.
- If using a pressure cooker then pour 1½ cups water to the pressure cooker and place the bottom plate. Place the dal bowl inside and cover. Pressure cook on a medium heat for 3 whistles. If you are coking directly in the cooker, then 2 whistles. Or you can also cook in a pot until soft.
- Once the pressure releases open the lid. Add salt and mash the dal to slightly coarse or smooth to suit your taste. To adjust the consistency you can very well add more 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.
- Mix well and do not cook further. Serve tomato pappu with with rice, ghee and avakaya.
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 in June 2022.