tomato pappu

Tomato Pappu

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 !


Pappu plain

After having eaten this pappu over the years at my friend’s home and at the home of my aunt… 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 !

pappu tomato mix

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.



tamarind mix

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.


tamarind with tomato

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 !


pappu mix with tomatoOnce 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… :)

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  • 1. Wash the lentils well in water ,drain. Add 2 cups of water ,turmeric powder and cumin and pressure cook until soft and cooked.
  • 2. Set aside to cool.
  • 3. In a pan,heat oil and add the asafoetida
  • 4. Let the tamarind soak in the water and make into a pulpy concentrate after 10 mts
  • 5. Add the tomatoes and green chillies to the oil and saute' until pulpy and oil floats
  • 6. Add some salt and then add the tamarind mixture
  • 7. Add the jaggery and let the mixture boil and let simmer for 5 mts.
  • 8. Add the cooked lentils ,a bit at a time and keep stirring until well mixed.
  • 9. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • 10. Let cook on a slow fire to required consisitency. It can be semi liquidy or a thicker mixture,depending on your preference.

About Chef

Shanthini Rajkumar

Hello ☺ ! Welcome to Pink lemon tree. A suggestion that has turned into an immensely satisfying connect with foodies from near and far. Best described as a foodie mom ...