Alsandyache Tonak

The title sounds all Greek and Latin isn’t it? Well it is Goan in fact 🙂 Let me explain. Alsande is a kind of legume grown mainly in Goa and Karnataka. Its actually a black eyed pea belonging to the cow pea family. Its extremely tasty and cooks very well. Tonak is  colloquial version of Tondak which refers to a type of masala or gravy. This is an extremely tasty dish and is usually had with Goan bread called poi. You could have it with pav or slice bread as well.

Alsande need to be soaked overnight and then pressure cooked. The Tonak masala uses all whole spices and is hence extremely tasty. It is very important to use the spices judiciously without going overboard with them as it will ruin the taste of the gravy. The credit of this recipe goes to my sister-in-law from Goa. There could be many versions of this recipe and every person adds his or her personal touch to it. Here you go:


  1. Alsande – 2 cups
  2. Potatoes medium diced – 2
  3. Tomatoes chopped finely – 4
  4. Onions chopped finely – 2
  5. Jaggery to taste
  6. Salt to taste

For tempering

  1. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  2. Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  3. Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  4. Curry leaves 
  5. Oil – 2 tbsp

For Tonak spice mix

  1. Corriander seeds –  tbsp
  2. Black peppercorn – 4-5
  3. Cloves – 5-6
  4. Cinnamon stick – 1/2 inch
  5. Mace – 1/2 piece
  6. Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
  7. Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
  8. Fennel seeds – 2 tsp
  9. Dried red chillies – 4-5 
  10. Dried coconut roasted – 1/4 cup
  11. Oil – 1/2 tbsp

 For gravy

  1. Roasted spice mix above
  2. Onions -2 
  3. Fresh grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  4. Oil – 1/2 tbsp

For garnish 

Chopped Corriander


  1. Soak alsande overnight and then cook them in a pressure cooker.
  2. For the gravy, roast the spices mentioned in spice mix above on oil in a pan and set aside to cool. Blend it to powder in a mixer and keep aside
  3. Roast the onions and fresh coconut on oil. Cool down. Once cooled, in a blender, blend together the spice mix above and the coconuts and onions by adding little water in to a very fine paste.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and add the ingredients mentioned in the tempering till the seeds crackle. Add the onions and sauté till translucent. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes till they soften. Add the potatoes and water. Cook with the lid on till the potatoes start becoming tender.
  5. Add the gravy paste mentioned above and the alsande and season with salt and jaggery. Continue cook till the potatoes are completely tender and the right consistency of the gravy is achieved. Garnish with chopped corriander and serve hot with bread.

This is a flavoursome gravy and has to be slightly runny in consistency so that the bread soaks up the gravy. The quantities mentioned above will make this dish for about 10-12 people. You can make the dry spice mix mentioned above and keep some of it for later use. 

Please note that alsande have a very unique taste and they are what makes this dish tasty. So when you visit Goa next time don’t forget to get your yearly supply of alsande !