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Tomato Dal

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See About Dal for information on the different kinds of dal.

Tomato Dal

By Kitchen Barbarian

Published 06/09/2009

Tomato dahl is as much a comfort food in Indian culture as tomato soup seems to be for many people here in the US (hence all those Campbell’s soup commercials).

Personally I don’t at all care for tomato soup, but I do love the Indian version!

If you’re not afraid of calories or cholesterol, serve this drizzled with ghee.


  • 1 c Toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 3 c water or whey (leftover from making paneer)
  • 2 small cans of chopped tomatoes or 4 to 6 chopped Romas
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 green chili peppers, diced

Measure and put aside SEPARATELY for the popu

  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp urud dal
  • 1/2 T cumin seed
  • 2 tsp black mustard seed
  • 2 dry red chilis, to taste
  • 6 to 8 fresh curry leaves

Masala: mix together and put aside:

  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 T coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt


  1. Set the dal to cooking. Use 1 c dal to 3 c water. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, until the dahl is very soft and has absorbed most of the water.
  2. Heat 2 to 3 T of oil in a karhai, wok, or large skillet. You are now ready to fry the popu.
  3. When the oil is hot, add chana and urud dal.
  4. When the dal begins to brown, immediately add cumin seed.
  5. When the cumin seed begins to brown, add mustard seeds.
  6. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, immediately add the crumbled red pepper and the neem leaves.
  7. The red pepper will begin to cook very quickly, as soon as it begins to brown add the masala. Fry the spices for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, then add the onion and green chilis.
  8. If you are using canned tomatoes, cook the onions until they are nearly soft, then add the canned tomatoes and mix well. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add the tomatoes with the onion and the green chilies and cook until soft.
  9. Add this mixture to the dahl, stir well, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to distribute the flavors throughout.
  10. Chop some coriander leaves (cilantro) and garnish to serve.
  11. Stir in a couple of T of ghee, or serve the ghee on the side.
  12. Serve with long grain rice, preferably basmati rice.

Tags: dal, toor dal, vegetarian, Indian food, dried beans, dry beans, Indian



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