Pappu Charu Recipe

Delicious Pappu Charu Recipe: Tangy Lentil Stew for a Flavorful South Indian Meal

Pappu Charu

    Pappu Charu

  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Category: Main-Course, Soup, Stew
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 250 calories

About this recipe

Pappu Charu is a delicious South Indian lentil soup or stew that is bursting with flavors. It's a comforting and tangy dish that is perfect for a hearty meal. Let me break it down for you.

Pappu Charu is primarily made with Toor dal, also known as split pigeon peas, which adds a creamy and rich texture to the soup. The dal is cooked until it becomes soft and mushy, which gives the dish its thick consistency.

The tanginess of Pappu Charu comes from tamarind pulp, which is added to the stew. Tamarind pulp adds a delightful sourness that balances well with the other flavors. The tamarind pulp is made by soaking tamarind in warm water and then squeezing out the pulp, discarding the solids.

To enhance the taste, Pappu Charu includes a variety of spices and aromatics. Onions, tomatoes, and green chilies are sautéed to create a flavorful base. Turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt are added to provide a kick of spice and depth of flavor. Curry leaves are also included, which contribute a unique aroma and taste.

The dish is cooked by combining the sautéed ingredients with the tamarind pulp and additional water. This mixture is brought to a boil and then simmered on low heat, allowing the flavors to meld together and develop. The cooked Toor dal is then added to the pot, and the stew is simmered a little longer to ensure all the flavors are well-incorporated.

Once the Pappu Charu reaches the desired consistency, it is garnished with fresh coriander leaves, which adds a refreshing touch and brightens up the dish.

Pappu Charu is typically served hot with steamed rice. The combination of the flavorful stew poured over the rice is absolutely delightful. It's also common to enjoy Pappu Charu with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) on top, which adds richness to the dish. Some people also pair it with papadums, which are crispy lentil crackers, to add a crunchy element to the meal.

Recipe origin and background

Pappu Charu is a traditional dish from the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India. Andhra cuisine is known for its spicy and flavorful dishes, and Pappu Charu is a popular example of this regional culinary style.

In Andhra Pradesh, the term "pappu" refers to dal or lentils, while "charu" translates to soup or stew. Pappu Charu is believed to have originated in the Telugu-speaking households of Andhra Pradesh, where dal is a staple ingredient in their daily meals.

The recipe has been passed down through generations and has become a cherished part of Andhra cuisine. It is often prepared during festive occasions, family gatherings, and special events. Pappu Charu is not only loved for its taste but also valued for its nutritional benefits, as lentils are a good source of protein and other essential nutrients.

Over time, different variations of Pappu Charu have emerged, with slight variations in the ingredients and methods of preparation. Some households may add vegetables like drumsticks, bottle gourd, or tomatoes to enhance the flavor and texture. However, the core elements of Toor dal, tamarind pulp, and aromatic spices remain consistent in most recipes.

Pappu Charu has gained popularity beyond Andhra Pradesh and is now enjoyed in various parts of South India. Its tangy and savory flavors have made it a favorite among people who appreciate the diverse and vibrant cuisine of the region.

Why try this Pappu Charu recipe?

  1. Unique and Authentic Flavor: Pappu Charu offers a unique taste experience that combines tanginess, spiciness, and savory flavors. It's a traditional South Indian dish that showcases the authentic flavors of Andhra Pradesh cuisine. Trying Pappu Charu will introduce you to a distinct and delicious flavor profile that may become a new favorite.
  2. Nutritional Benefits: Pappu Charu is not only delicious but also packed with nutritional benefits. Toor dal, the main ingredient, is a great source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It's a wholesome and nutritious dish that can be a part of a balanced diet.
  3. Versatility: While Pappu Charu is traditionally served with steamed rice, it can be enjoyed in various ways. You can adjust the consistency to make it thicker as a stew or thinner as a soup, depending on your preference. Pappu Charu can also be paired with roti or other bread varieties, making it a versatile dish suitable for different occasions and meal preferences.
  4. Cultural Experience: Exploring different cuisines allows you to connect with different cultures and traditions. Trying the Pappu Charu recipe will give you a glimpse into the vibrant culinary heritage of Andhra Pradesh, South India. It's an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich flavors and culinary practices of the region.
  5. Personalization: While the recipe provides a foundation, you can always personalize and experiment with the ingredients and spices to suit your taste preferences. You can add your favorite vegetables or adjust the spice levels to make it milder or spicier. It's a versatile recipe that allows for creativity and adaptation in the kitchen.

In a nutshell, trying the Pappu Charu recipe offers a chance to savor a unique and authentic South Indian dish, enjoy its nutritional benefits, explore cultural flavors, and personalize the recipe to suit your taste. It's a delicious and rewarding culinary adventure worth embarking on.

What does Pappu Charu taste like?

Pappu Charu is known for its unique and delightful taste that combines tanginess, spiciness, and earthy flavors. Here's a description of its taste profile:

Tangy: The tanginess in Pappu Charu comes from the tamarind pulp, which adds a pleasantly sour and acidic note to the dish. The tamarind flavor cuts through the richness of the dal and spices, giving the stew a refreshing and zesty taste.

Spicy: Pappu Charu also has a mild to moderate level of spiciness, depending on personal preference. The red chili powder and green chilies used in the recipe provide a gentle kick of heat without overpowering the other flavors. The spice level can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.

Savory and Umami: The combination of sautéed onions, tomatoes, and aromatic spices creates a savory and umami-rich base for Pappu Charu. The flavors blend together to give the stew a deep and satisfying taste that is comforting and full-bodied.

Creamy and Rich: The Toor dal used in Pappu Charu lends a creamy and velvety texture to the dish. The dal gets cooked until it becomes soft and mushy, creating a smooth consistency. This adds a comforting and nourishing element to the soup.

Balanced and Harmonious: Pappu Charu is all about achieving a balanced blend of flavors. The tanginess from the tamarind, the spiciness from the chili powder, and the richness of the dal come together harmoniously to create a well-rounded taste experience.

Pappu Charu offers a unique combination of tanginess, spiciness, and savory flavors that work together to create a delicious and satisfying dish. It's a taste that is distinctively South Indian and has won the hearts of many food lovers.

What is in Pappu Charu?

  • Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas): Toor dal is the primary ingredient in Pappu Charu. It is a type of lentil that is split and hulled. Toor dal adds a creamy and rich texture to the dish, along with its nutritional benefits.
  • Tamarind Pulp: Tamarind pulp provides the tangy flavor in Pappu Charu. It is made by soaking tamarind in warm water and extracting the pulp. Tamarind adds a distinct sourness that balances the other flavors in the stew.
  • Onion: Finely chopped onions are sautéed as the base for Pappu Charu. They add sweetness and depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes are added to give a slight tang and enhance the overall taste. They provide a pleasant acidity and contribute to the richness of the stew.
  • Green Chilies: Slit green chilies add a gentle heat and a fresh, spicy flavor to the dish. The spiciness can be adjusted to personal preference.
  • Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder is a vibrant yellow spice that adds color and mild earthy flavors to Pappu Charu. It also offers health benefits and acts as a natural food coloring agent.
  • Red Chili Powder: Red chili powder provides a touch of heat and adds a distinct spiciness to the dish. The amount used can be adjusted to suit individual spice preferences.
  • Salt: Salt is a crucial ingredient for seasoning and balancing the flavors in Pappu Charu. It enhances the taste of the other ingredients and brings out their natural flavors.
  • Curry Leaves: Curry leaves are aromatic leaves commonly used in South Indian cooking. They contribute a unique flavor and aroma that adds depth and authenticity to Pappu Charu.
  • Oil or Ghee (Clarified Butter): Oil or ghee is used for sautéing the ingredients and adds richness to the dish. Ghee, in particular, imparts a unique flavor and aroma to the final preparation.
  • Mustard Seeds: Mustard seeds are commonly used in South Indian cooking for tempering. They provide a nutty flavor and a mild crunch when they splutter in hot oil.
  • Cumin Seeds: Cumin seeds are another common spice used for tempering in Indian cuisine. They have a warm and earthy flavor that adds depth to the dish.
  • Asafoetida (Hing): Asafoetida is a pungent spice used in small quantities to enhance the flavor and aid digestion. It has a strong aroma and is commonly used in South Indian cooking.
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves: Chopped fresh coriander leaves are used as a garnish for Pappu Charu. They add freshness and a hint of herbaceousness to the dish.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Pressure Cooker: A pressure cooker is typically used to cook the Toor dal until it becomes soft and mushy. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use a regular pot or saucepan, but it may take longer to cook the dal to the desired consistency.
  • Pot or Deep Pan: A pot or deep pan is used to sauté the onions, tomatoes, and spices, and to simmer the Pappu Charu. You can use any sturdy pot or deep pan you have available.
  • Mixing Spoon or Spatula: A mixing spoon or spatula is needed for stirring and combining the ingredients while cooking. Any sturdy spoon or spatula can be used as a substitute.
  • Bowl: A bowl is used for soaking the tamarind pulp in warm water. Any medium-sized bowl will work.
  • Strainer or Sieve: A strainer or sieve is used to separate the tamarind pulp from the solids. If you don't have one, you can use a clean cloth or muslin cloth to strain the tamarind pulp.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: A knife and cutting board are needed for chopping the onions, tomatoes, and coriander leaves. Any sharp knife and a clean cutting board will do the job.
  • Stove or Cooktop: Pappu Charu is cooked on a stove or cooktop over medium heat. Ensure you have a functioning stove or cooktop for cooking the dish.
  • Ladle: A ladle is useful for serving the Pappu Charu. It helps in transferring the stew from the pot to serving bowls. If you don't have a ladle, a large spoon can be used as a substitute.

How to make Pappu Charu

Indulge in the tangy and flavorful Pappu Charu recipe—a traditional South Indian lentil stew bursting with aromatic spices and nourishing goodness.


  • 1 cup Toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • A small handful of curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing


  1. Wash the Toor dal thoroughly and pressure cook it with 2 cups of water until it becomes soft and mushy. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind well to extract the pulp and discard the solids. Set the tamarind pulp aside.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a large pot or deep pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  4. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add the chopped onions and green chilies to the pot and sauté until the onions turn translucent.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they become soft and mushy.
  7. Now, add the turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well.
  8. Pour in the tamarind pulp and add an additional cup of water. Stir everything together.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  10. Add the cooked Toor dal to the pot and mix well. Adjust the consistency by adding more water if needed.
  11. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Once the Pappu Charu reaches the desired consistency, turn off the heat.
  13. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
  14. Serve the Pappu Charu hot with steamed rice or enjoy it as a soup.

How to serve Pappu Charu

  1. Prepare Steamed Rice: Pappu Charu is traditionally served with steamed rice. Start by cooking the desired amount of rice according to your preferred method. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
  2. Ladle Pappu Charu: Using a ladle or large spoon, carefully transfer the Pappu Charu from the pot to a serving bowl. Make sure to include a generous amount of the dal, vegetables, and flavorful broth.
  3. Garnish with Fresh Coriander: Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) over the Pappu Charu. This adds a pop of freshness and adds to the visual appeal of the dish.
  4. Serve Hot: Pappu Charu is best enjoyed hot. Serve the Pappu Charu immediately after garnishing while it's still steaming and full of flavors.
  5. Accompaniments: Pappu Charu can be enjoyed as is, but you can also consider serving it with some traditional accompaniments to enhance the meal.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Bring the Pappu Charu, steamed rice, and any accompaniments to the dining table. Allow everyone to serve themselves by scooping a portion of rice into their individual bowls and then ladling the Pappu Charu over the rice. Encourage your guests to mix the rice and stew together to fully enjoy the flavors.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 622 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Pappu Charu, Pappu Charu Recipe, Recipe, Easy, Homemade, Top rated

What to serve Pappu Charu with

Pappu Charu is a versatile dish that can be served with a variety of accompaniments to create a wholesome and well-rounded meal. Here are some popular options to consider:

  1. Steamed Rice: Pappu Charu is traditionally served with steamed rice. The combination of the flavorful stew poured over the rice creates a satisfying and balanced meal. Make sure to have a bowl of freshly cooked steamed rice ready to serve alongside the Pappu Charu.
  2. Ghee (Clarified Butter): Serve a small bowl of ghee alongside the Pappu Charu. Some people like to drizzle a little ghee on top of the rice and dal for added richness and flavor. The melted ghee adds a smooth and buttery element to the dish.
  3. Roti or Chapati: If you prefer bread over rice, you can serve Pappu Charu with roti or chapati. These Indian flatbreads make a delicious and hearty accompaniment. You can either make them from scratch or use store-bought ones.
  4. Papadums or Poppadoms: Papadums are thin and crispy lentil-based crackers that are often served as a side dish or snack in Indian cuisine. They make a great accompaniment to Pappu Charu. Serve them on the side for a crunchy element to enjoy with the soup and rice.
  5. Vegetable Curries: You can serve Pappu Charu with a side of vegetable curries or stir-fries. Opt for dishes that complement the flavors of the stew. Popular choices include potato curry, okra stir-fry, eggplant curry, or mixed vegetable curry. These curries provide additional variety and nutrition to the meal.
  6. Yogurt or Raita: A side of plain yogurt or raita can help balance the spiciness of Pappu Charu. The cool and creamy yogurt provides a refreshing contrast to the flavors of the stew. You can serve plain yogurt or make a simple raita by mixing yogurt with chopped cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and a sprinkle of spices.
  7. Pickles or Chutneys: Add a tangy and spicy element to the meal by serving some Indian pickles or chutneys. Mango pickle, lime pickle, or tomato chutney are popular choices that complement the flavors of Pappu Charu. They add an extra burst of flavor to each bite.

My recommendations and tips

  1. Start with Quality Ingredients: To achieve the best flavors in Pappu Charu, start with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Use good quality Toor dal, fresh vegetables, and aromatic spices. Fresh ingredients will contribute to the overall taste and aroma of the dish.
  2. Adjust Spices to Taste: The spiciness level in Pappu Charu can be adjusted according to your personal preference. If you prefer a milder version, reduce the amount of red chili powder or green chilies. Conversely, if you like it spicier, increase the spice levels accordingly. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you cook to ensure it matches your desired flavor profile.
  3. Consistency of the Stew: Pappu Charu can be made with a thicker or thinner consistency depending on your preference. If you prefer a thicker stew, cook it for a longer time to allow the dal to break down further. If you prefer a thinner soup-like consistency, add more water during the cooking process. Adjust the consistency by adding more water or cooking it down as needed.
  4. Tamarind Pulp Balance: Tamarind pulp adds tanginess to Pappu Charu. It's important to find the right balance of tanginess for your taste. Start with the suggested amount of tamarind pulp in the recipe and adjust it as per your preference. If you prefer a more pronounced tang, add a little more tamarind pulp. If you prefer it milder, reduce the amount slightly.
  5. Garnish with Fresh Herbs: The final touch of freshly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) adds a burst of freshness and color to the dish. Garnish the Pappu Charu just before serving to maximize the flavor and presentation.
  6. Experiment with Vegetables: While the traditional Pappu Charu recipe does not include vegetables, you can experiment by adding your favorite vegetables like bottle gourd, drumsticks, carrots, or tomatoes. These additions can enhance the flavors and nutritional value of the dish.
  7. Serve Hot and Fresh: Pappu Charu is best enjoyed when served hot and fresh. The flavors are at their peak when the dish is freshly prepared. Serve it immediately after cooking to fully experience the vibrant taste and aroma.
  8. Store and Reheat Properly: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pappu Charu can thicken upon cooling, so you may need to add a little water when reheating. Heat it gently on the stovetop, stirring occasionally until heated through. Adjust the consistency and seasonings if necessary before serving.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas): If you don't have Toor dal, you can substitute it with other lentils like Masoor dal (red lentils) or Moong dal (split yellow mung beans). The cooking time and texture may vary slightly, but they will still work well in the recipe.
  • Tamarind Pulp: If you don't have tamarind pulp, you can substitute it with lemon juice. Lemon juice will provide a tangy flavor similar to tamarind. Start with a smaller quantity and adjust according to taste.
  • Onion: If you don't have onions or prefer to omit them, you can skip them entirely. The dish will still be flavorful, although it will lack the sweetness and depth that onions provide.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes add a tangy and acidic element to Pappu Charu. If you don't have tomatoes, you can use tomato puree or canned diced tomatoes. Adjust the quantity based on your taste preference and the acidity level of the substitute you choose.
  • Green Chilies: Green chilies add a spicy kick to the dish. If you don't have green chilies, you can substitute them with red chili flakes or powdered chili pepper. Adjust the amount according to your desired level of spiciness.
  • Curry Leaves: Curry leaves have a unique flavor, but if you can't find them, you can omit them. The dish will still be delicious without them, though it might lack a bit of the authentic South Indian aroma.
  • Ghee (Clarified Butter): Ghee adds richness and flavor to Pappu Charu. If you prefer a vegan option or don't have ghee on hand, you can use vegetable oil or coconut oil as a substitute. They will still contribute to the overall taste and texture of the dish.
  • Mustard Seeds: Mustard seeds are used for tempering and provide a nutty flavor. If you don't have mustard seeds, you can substitute them with cumin seeds or omit them altogether. Cumin seeds will give a different but still delicious taste.
  • Asafoetida (Hing): Asafoetida is a pungent spice, but if you don't have it, you can omit it. It adds a unique flavor, so the dish might taste slightly different without it, but it will still be enjoyable.

Additional note

  1. Lentil Variations: While Pappu Charu is traditionally made with Toor dal (split pigeon peas), you can experiment with other lentils as well. Each lentil will bring a slightly different flavor and texture to the dish. Feel free to try Masoor dal (red lentils), Moong dal (split yellow mung beans), or a combination of lentils to create your own unique version.
  2. Pre-Soaking Lentils: To reduce cooking time, you can pre-soak the Toor dal for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. This helps soften the lentils and can speed up the overall cooking process.
  3. Adjusting Consistency: Pappu Charu can be customized to your preferred consistency. If you prefer a thicker stew, cook it for a longer time or mash the dal slightly to achieve a creamier texture. If you prefer a thinner soup-like consistency, add more water during the cooking process. Adjust the consistency as you cook to achieve the desired thickness.
  4. Leftovers and Freezing: Pappu Charu can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The flavors tend to develop and intensify over time, making it even more delicious the next day. You can also freeze Pappu Charu in freezer-safe containers for up to 2-3 months. Thaw and reheat gently on the stovetop, adding water if needed, while stirring occasionally.
  5. Nutrition and Dietary Considerations: Pappu Charu is a nutritious dish packed with protein, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is naturally gluten-free and suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. However, if you have specific dietary concerns or restrictions, make sure to adjust the recipe and ingredient choices accordingly.
  6. Customization and Flavor Preferences: Feel free to customize Pappu Charu according to your taste preferences. You can adjust the spice levels, tanginess, or even add additional vegetables to enhance the flavors and nutritional content. Cooking is a creative process, so don't hesitate to make it your own and experiment with different ingredients and variations.

Final Remark

Experience the irresistible flavors of Pappu Charu, a tangy South Indian lentil stew. With its aromatic spices and comforting texture, this recipe is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Try it today and elevate your culinary journey!

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