tomato pappu tomato dal

Tomato Pappu | Andhra Tomato Dal

By Swasthi on June 1, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

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 andhra tomato dal

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 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.

More Dal recipes
Dal makhani
Dal fry
Chana dal
Masoor dal
Dal palak

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.

adding toor dal to a bowl to make tomato pappu

3. Wash the dal several times until the water runs clear. Drain the water.

pouring water to bowl to make tomato pappu

4. Add 1 to 2 green chilies and cleaned a small piece of tamarind.

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 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.

adding tomatoes to make tomato dal

6. Pour water in your cooker. I used 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.

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 cooking in a pot, add more water as needed and cook until soft.

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. Pour little water if needed to adjust the consistency.

pouring water to bring tomato dal to consistency

12. Add salt and mix.

adding salt to tomato pappu

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).

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.

Turn off the stove and mix well

Serve tomato pappu with rice, avakaya and ghee.

tomato pappu recipe

Pro Tips

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.

Andhra tomato dal made with split pigeon peas

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

tomato pappu

Tomato Pappu | Andhra Tomato Dal

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 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

  • 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)


Cook lentils

  • 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)

Nutrition Facts
Tomato Pappu | 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Tomato Pappu Recipe first published in September 2014. Updated in June 2022.

Tomato Pappu | Andhra Tomato Dal

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.

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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.

Dear mam
I am working on a story for The Hindu Metro Plus (Chennai, India) on native Indian cuisine and we have listed Tomato Pappu as one of the recipes.

Could you give us permission to use this image (with credit) or could you send us the image used in the above link for publication? We would need it as soon as possible.

Awaiting your response
Thanking you
Warm Regards

5 stars
Love your recipes very much. Tomato pappu very nice and easy. Thanks

5 stars
Thanks, very nice