Tomato Pappu Recipe (Andhra Tomato Dal)

Updated: May 11, 2024, By Swasthi

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.

tomato pappu andhra tomato dal

Recipe Comments

About Tomato Dal

Tomato Pappu is just dal cooked with lots of tomatoes, spices and herbs in Andhra style. “Pappu” is a Telugu Word that refers to “Dal” (lentils). This Andhra 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 it 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 this dish is the tamarind that brings in a unique taste & flavor when it is pressure cooked along with the dal. It 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.

More Dal recipes
Dosakaya Pappu
Pappu Charu
Chana dal
Masoor dal
Dal palak

Photo Guide

How to Make Tomato Pappu (Stepwise Pics)

Pressure cook dal and tomatoes

1. To make tomato dal 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.

adding toor dal to a bowl to make tomato pappu

3. Rinse the dal at least thrice until the water runs clear. Drain the water.

pouring water to bowl to make tomato pappu

4. Add 1 to 2 green chilies and a small piece of cleaned tamarind. If you want you can also rinse the tamarind first.

adding chilies tamarind to dal to make tomato pappu

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.

adding tomatoes to make tomato dal

6. Pour water in your cooker. I use about 1 ½ cups water. Place the steam rack or plate.

pouring water to cooker to make tomato dal

7. Keep the bowl in the cooker.

placing the bowl in pressure cooker to make tomato pappu

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.

covering tomato dal in cooker

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.

pressure cooking dal

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.

cooked tomato dal

11. Mash and check the consistency. If it is too thick for your liking, pour little hot water & mix to adjust the consistency.

pouring water to bring tomato dal to consistency

12. Add ⅓ teaspoon salt and mix. Taste test and adjust salt.

adding salt to tomato pappu

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).

tempering with ghee spices to make tomato pappu

14. When they begin to splutter, lower the heat if needed. Add garlic and curry leaves.

adding chilli powder to tempering

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.

adding garlic red chilies to make tomato dal

16. Quickly mix it with ghee.

mixing the spices to add to tomato dal

17. Pour the tomato dal to the pan.

Pour the dal

18. Turn off the stove and mix well. If you cook longer at this stage the dal begins to splatter.

Turn off the stove and mix well

Serve tomato pappu with rice, avakaya and ghee.

tomato pappu recipe

Expert Tips

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Andhra tomato dal made with split pigeon peas

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

tomato pappu

Tomato Pappu Recipe (Andhra Tomato Dal)

5 from 79 votes
Tomato pappu also known as tomato dal is a everyday lentil dish cooked with tomatoes from Andhra cuisine. It is best served with plain rice and ghee. If you do not have a cooker you can also cook in a pot.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

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)
  • teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
  • teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

To Temper

  • 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.


NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Tomato Pappu Recipe (Andhra Tomato Dal)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 306 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 28mg9%
Sodium 32mg1%
Potassium 832mg24%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 450IU9%
Vitamin C 52.3mg63%
Calcium 72mg7%
Iron 3.4mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

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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5 stars
OMG! This tomato dal is fantastic. I didn’t have tamarind so added a bit of tamarind chutney and it tastes amazing. Love Andhra food and this turned out way delicious than I thought

5 stars
Always love your receipes, simple and some the perfect taste. Thanks for all the receipes.

5 stars
Thanks for the recipe! Great for someone like me, living in the US, away from home :)!
Why do it say do not cook further after tempering? Just curious.

So simple yet so good, thank you!? The taste of fried garlic is just perfect there. Although I added 6 small cloves. I have done it twice this week, once with onion and the other without. I agree with your taste and comment and next time I skip onion also ?

Cooked this just now. Being a north Indian, I had always loved the uniqueness in its flavour. You made it super easy to cook. It tastes delicious! Thank you so much for posting!

5 stars
Awesome ! Thanks for sharing !

I have made this recipe like a million times already. I add a bit of jaggery to the mix and it is super:)

5 stars
Amazing , easy to make and delicious recipe! I just have 2 suggestions, please don’t get me wrong, I love the recipe but I found two things that might help future users:
1. Tamarind is mentioned as an ingredient but, in the textual recipe, there is no mention of when to add it. It is there in the pictorial step-by-step recipe though.
2. If we need to make more servings, do we double all the ingredients? I did that but, again maybe mentioning it might help!

Your recipe is great, ma’am and helped me a lot but, I thought these suggestions might help future users. Hope you don’t mind 🙂 Thank you once again!

5 stars
I made this recipe and it was very yummy. Thanks SwathiJi.

5 stars
I like the way you teach with the pics step by step. It is easy to understand……?

Dal is not mashing properly. What to do? Even after 8 whistles it’s not mashing to smooth consistency. Is there pressure cooker problem?
Also why did u put Dal in pot & then pressure cooked it? U can directly put it in the cooker right?

For cooking millets in the pressure cooker can you tell me what is the ratio of water for one cup of millet and how many whistle. Thanks

5 stars
usually 1:3 is good, 1 cup millet, 3 cups water

5 stars
I like the way u teach step by step wit very clear pics

5 stars
Hi Mam,

Can we add hing to the papu?

5 stars
Hey swasthi..I am just loving your recipes..making cooking easy for me..thank you so much.
But there is some problem with this site it seems as it is showing reload page again n again..kindly look into this.thank you?

5 stars
Hi swasthi how r u ? Tried tomato pappu several times always tasts good thank u for the recipe

5 stars
I want to learn all south indian snaks , curry, breakfast etc

5 stars
Hi swathi…ds web site is vert useful to learn cooking…and to learn how to make yummy healthy food…thnk u so much nd thnx to indianhealthyfood page….

Really like this with the tamarind

5 stars
I was very poor in cooking until my late twenties. Then I married an Irish man who loves Indian food. Following your recipes with images has made cooking a walk in the park for me. I have tried some very interesting recipes from here. Thanks a million for doing what you do.

The best ways for beginners to learn the best..thank you mam..