Green Tomato Finalist #6: Roopa's Green Tomato and Lentil Stew

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[The sixth and last finalist in our Green Tomato Contest is Roopa - we liked the ease of this recipe and also that she used homegrown green tomatoes in her tomato and lentil stew. Voting on all six finalists will open around lunchtime today.]

This is a recipe for a South Indian dish called Thakali Masiyal. It's an original recipe I wrote based on my mom's instructions.

The green tomatoes I used were homegrown. I have (actually, had) tomato plants growing in pots on my balcony. It finally got cold and so I pulled off all my green tomatoes - mostly romas but a whole bunch of cherry and grape tomatoes, too - because obviously they were never going to get ripe.

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Thakali Masiyal (Green Tomato and Lentil Stew)

5 cups water
3/4 cup dry toor dal (yellow split peas)*
4 heaping cups of chopped green and pink tomatoes (about 2.5 pounds, I think - I don't have a scale; chopped into 1/2" dice) – I used half green and half that were pinkish and not fully ripe)
1-2 small green chilies, ribs and seeds removed and chopped - add at least one, and add the second to taste
1 cup water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon tamarind paste*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sambar powder*, optional

*all of these ingredients are available at Indian grocery stores; good supermarkets (such as Whole Foods) will probably have the Tamcon tamarind paste and the dal.

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In a large stockpot, bring the 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the toor dal and turn heat down to medium-high. Cook uncovered until the dal is tender and starting to fall apart, about 30-35 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chilies and water and cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat.

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Add the remaining ingredients and cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for another 20-30 minutes – the tomatoes should be very soft and falling apart, and the mixture should be thick and brownish/red and have reduced by about 1/3.

Mix with basmati rice (about 2/3 cup dry rice will make enough cooked rice to go along with this recipe) and serve with papad.

- Roopa