Daal III: Tomato Pappu

I had set some pretty lofty goals for Southern India. I admitted it at the time and after 7 days, I failed to meet them. I failed you, I failed me, I failed Southern India.  Setting out to make 6 things this week, I managed three. 50%. F.


Okay, that being said, I’m over my failure. I just had too many things to do this week to spend my time in the kitchen. It happens. However, it just means that I have some Indian food up my sleeve should the need arise in a crunch.

The last dish I’m bringing from you is a homemade recipe from Garbanzo and, as we all know, homemade recipes are the best.

I met Garbanzo through Lettuce and last time I went to D.C., she had us over for dinner.  It was quite the spread- all homemade, tasty and delicious, so I definitely trusted her to deliver something noteworthy when I asked her for some suggestions, and she did not disappoint.

You may be looking at this and be thinking, “Sigh. Another daal recipe? Really?” However, you know how we have chili cook-offs here in the U.S.? You know why? Because every chili recipe is different. While the spices may appear to be the same, every pot has a little sumpin sumpin that makes it that much different from the pot next to it. So is it with daal. If you were to put Mama Buddha’s, the Gujarati and this next to each other, you agree that it was worth making all three.

For some reason, I had the same pea problem that I had with the Gujarati daal. My peas wouldn’t properly mash and I sent another frustrated text to Mama that said, “My peas won’t cook!” I didn’t salt them and I had just brought the brand new bag. However, after substantial boiling and only minimal softening, I ended up finishing this off with my immersion blender to get it properly creamy. However, if you’re not me, you should have luck making this just as Garbanzo describes below, though if you should, know that an immersion (or regular) blender can cure any number of ails, and stubborn peas is one.

However, unlike the Gujarati, this daal only has a few ingredients. That one, it seemed, had a thousand.  I exaggerate, obviously, but it did have a lot.


Tomato Pappu


1 cup Toor Daal/Split Pigeon yellow Peas

2 small/medium tomatoes, diced

2 green chili peppers, sliced

salt, to taste

1 ½ TB oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin

tamarind paste, approximately the size of a sugar cube

Asafetida Powder, a pinch (unless you are going gluten free, then omit this)


1. Put the peas into a pot and rinse thoroughly.

2.  Add water to rinsed peas (water level should be about 2 inches above the peas). Heat on stove at medium heat.  About 5 – 10 minutes into the heating, the water will be covered in a white foam.  Scoop this foamy layer off the water and discard.

3.  Once the foam is discarded, add tomatoes and chili peppers to the water and let cook.  After 15 – 20 minutes, add the small piece of tamarind.  Cook until the daal is soft, about 30 minutes.  When daal is fully cooked, turn off heat and seat aside.

4.  Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil.  Once oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin.  Once the mustard seeds are popping, turn off heat and add a dash of asafetida powder.  Add oil mixture to the daal and mix thoroughly.  Salt to taste.

5.  Serve with rice and a sprinkle of parsley or cilantro, if desired.


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