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Pigeon Pea Paste (Aka Arhar Dal or Toovar Dal)

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“Entered for ZWT. This is a staple of South Indian cuisine, found in Madhur Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian", used as a launching pad for other recipes. This recipe describes the basic preparation of these round, dull yellow peas with an earthy, dark flavor in their hulled and split forms. The plants in the northern part of India produce Arhar Dal; in the southern part of India: Toovar Dal. Every day a different stew is made with these. If using "oily toovar", wash it very thoroughly before cooking to remove the castor oil coating. Note that dried peas double in size after cooking. This paste will last 1 week tightly covered in the refrigerator; in Indian households, it is used everyday. If the next recipe requires draining of the peas, save the cooking liquid for soup. Preparation time is soaking time. Cooking time is estimated total time once in pressure cooker to come up to pressure and cook, but does not include natural release time.”
8hrs 35mins
6 cups

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 12 lbs dried whole pigeon peas (3 cups)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 drops canola oil (to prevent foaming if using pressure cooker)


  1. Pick over the peas and wash them well. Drain. Soak the peas overnight in water to cover by 5 inches. Drain, discard soaking liquid.
  3. Put the drained peas in a pressure cooker and cover with water by 1/2 inch. Add a few drops of cooking oil to prevent foaming. Put the lid on and bring up to pressure. Cook for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to drop by itself.
  5. Put the drained peas in a medium pan along with water to cover them by 2 inches and bring it to a boil. Cover partially, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently until the beans are tender, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours.

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