Thoor Dahl with Tomato and Onion

While I was in California visiting my sister in May, she made us a lot of Indian food. She recently went on a trip through India, and was inspired by some of the dishes she had while she was there. This one is called Thoor Dahl with Tomato and Onion.

She served the dahl with idlis, which I’d never had before. They’re hard to describe, but they’re made of lentils and rice that forms a batter. It becomes a little bun or cake once it’s steamed. You can make them from scratch, but they have to ferment overnight. My sister used a mix, which you can probably find at an Indian grocery store if you have one near you, along with thoor dahl and curry leaves.

The dahl recipe that I’m posting here is served on top of the idlis. The recipe comes from the cookbook Savoring the Spice Coast by Maya Kaimal. You can also check out some of my sister’s beautiful photos from her trip on her travelogue, with more photos to come soon!


  • 1 cup thoor dhal or yellow split peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 2 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai), split lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 10 to 12 fresh curry leaves


  1. In a large bowl, wash the dhal in several changes of water, drain. Place the dhal, turmeric, and 2-1/2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cool, partially covered, for 30 minutes (45 minutes for yellow split peas), or until the water has been absorbed and the peas break up under pressure from the back of a spoon. Check to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  2. When the peas are soft, stir in the onion, green chilies, garlic, and ginger and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the tomato and salt and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked but not falling apart. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a small frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover. When the seeds have popped, toss in the dried red chilies and curry leaves. After the leaves crackle for a few seconds, pour the contents into the dhal and stir to combine. The mixture should be the texture of thick pea soup. Taste for salt.

6 thoughts on “Thoor Dahl with Tomato and Onion

  1. Come back so I can cook you more Indian food! 🙂

    For your other readers, there’s a lot of great vegan-friendly dishes in Keralan cuisine. Savoring the Spice coast definitely does include meat, but there are loads of delicious vegetable dishes. Dairy is not nearly as prominent as in North Indian food, so that means most non-meat dishes will be vegan without requiring substitutions.

    And thanks for linking to my blog, K!

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