I like my tomato pappu (dal) as red as a tomato. The yellow of the dal adds its own hue so ultimately it's like a burst of orange-yellow sunshine in a child's drawing.
Take two fistfuls of tur dal (red gram/pigeon peas), add a disproportionate amount of tomatoes to it, at least five, if not more, and boil away the excess water and it's ready.
When I saw some green tomatoes at the store a couple of weeks ago, I had to grab them. Of course, I had no clue whatsoever what I was going to do with them, but I had to have them. Looking at several recipes several days later on the Net didn't help either - I wanted to use them up quick and not have to buy extra ingredients to be able to use them up so I decided I would look for recipes for kootu - it would be like the dal I'm used to yet not quite, I told myself, and it would be a healthy and easy balance between my impatience to get on with using something and not wasting it and my desire to experience a new and unfamiliar taste.
But kootu recipes usually mean the tiresome processing of a coconut, which is the rarest of rare commodities in my home. I decided to tilt the balance in favour of the familiar - do away with the coconut, with the dal of choice (green gram) and use tur dal, with pepper and fennel to impart the novelty.
As the cooking hour progressed, I took a look at the pestle and it felt incredibly heavy. Never mind, the peppercorns will split when I splutter them in oil, I told myself, and got on with it. All they did was spit. And get shiny.The fennel didn't make any difference; I should have reached for that pestle, after all! I didn't add too much turmeric because I wanted the dal to look green, and added two or three round red chillies to add some contrast to the dal.
Here's how I think I made it:
In a pressure cooker (or pan),
- take half a cup of washed toor dal (pre-soaking will help it cook faster and softer in a shorter time)
- 6-7 quartered green tomatoes
- a small onion, chopped up (optional)
- 1 or 2 green chillies, slit (optional)
- a pinch of turmeric
Make sure the dal is well covered by the water but not overwhelmed by it.
Let the pressure cooker whistle 2-3 times and then cook it on simmer for another 5 minutes. (Or just cook it till mushy in a pan)
Let the pressure drop on its own and mash it as much as you can.
Add the salt and some red chilli powder, if you like, at this stage.
If it's too watery, thicken it down by cooking it some more on medium heat, uncovered.
In a spoon of oil, pop 1/2 tsp each of mustard, cumin, peppercorns and fennel. A bit of asafoetida, if you like, or garlic. And 4-5 curry leaves and a couple of curry leaves. Chop up some coriander and garnish.
I'm sending this dal to Desi Soccer Mom who's hosting My Legume Love Affair, created by Susan.
My Legume Love Affair Tomato Dal/lentils Vegetarian Humour