While this may not be the authentic version of the traditional tomato pappu from Andhra,it is delicious all the same. It’s a very popular addition to my kids’ lunch box and every little grain of rice is relished and eaten when mixed with this tasty pappu. Pappu is a telugu name for paruppu /dhal/lentils,in this case pigeon pea lentils.
I like to first cook the lentils with turmeric and cumin. I prefer it, instead of cooking it altogether with the tomatoes and tamarind. Onions may also be added to the dish,It’s just that, I am not in the habit of doing so !
After having eaten this pappu over the years at my friend’s home and at the home of my aunt…..one day while cooking dhal, I suddenly decided to try my hand at making ‘tomato pappu’. It used to always amuse me that only in the telugu speaking state, is, tomato referred to as ‘tomato’ or ‘tamato’…unlike other states in India,where it is referred to in the vernacular ! So,this version ,which deviates from the original was made entirely relying on my taste buds,of the memory of sweet,sour and slightly spicy. Since ,it soon become a favourite lunch time side dish,I stuck to this recipe !
Tomatoes and green chillies are sauteed with a little asafoetida and I love the way it gets pulpy and ready to take on other flavours.
A small lemon sized ball of tamarind is soaked for 10 mts in some warm water and then made pulpy by mashing slightly. This taste is what sets it apart from the other South Indian paruppus.
It’s mixed with the tomato and boiled ,at which point I like to add a small bit of organic jaggery to get the perfect bland of sour and sweet. Yum !!!! A whole depth of flavour is added at this stage and the cooking of this is what ,I think, makes the pappu taste the way it does. Some folks do add ginger and garlic paste at this stage,if you like it,you may do so !
Once all the tastes have amalgamated well,I like to add the pappu in slowly,stirring all the way,I continue to taste at this point,in order to adjust seasoning . That is very important when you build flavours layer by layer. Every component can add a new taste and alter the balance of the dish quite differently. This pappu like all others ,does need a few drops of good quality or home made ghee. My grandmother always says that the fat in the ghee helps the absorption of the protein in the lentils and I’ve always believed her. Recently the famed nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar mentions the same in her books . You don’t need to add a quarter spoonfull or anything, just a few large drops will do…