This is a traditional Goan recipe. ‘Tonak’ means gravy in Konkani and ‘Alsane’ are red cow peas. This Tonak is extremely delicious and worth all the effort that goes into making it. We don’t get Alsane in Mumbai, hence I always pick it up on my trip to Goa or request my Mom to get it. Most of the Goan gravies are made in a similar fashion. Today’s recipe is also used with eggs, baby brinjal, whole masoor and mixed vegetables. It can be made with fresh as well as dry grated coconut. There is a dried veggie version made with these cow peas, the recipe for which I’ll post some other day. Thats a fairly simple recipe comparatively, but tastes just  as good.

2 cups Red cow peas

2 Potatoes

2 Onions (1 sliced lengthwise for the masala and one chopped fine)

11/2 cup fresh or dry grated Coconut

8-10 Garlic cloves

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

Tamarind lemon sized ball



3-4 tbsp Coriander seeds

3-4 dry red chillies

1 inch cinnamon

10-12 Pepper corns

4-5 Cloves

1 Star Anise

1 mace

1 bay leaf

1 black cardamom

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp cumin seeds


  1. Soak the red cow peas overnight, rinse well the next day, and then pressure cook with enough water and some salt.
  2. Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a wok, fry bay leaf, black cardamon, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, red chillies and coriander seeds. Fry them on a low flame, taking care not to burn them and keep them aside.
  3. In the same pan heat about  1/2 tbsp of oil and fry the sliced onions until translucent. Then add garlic and grated coconut and fry it on low flame until the coconut is golden brown. Remove from flame and allow it to cool. If using dry coconut, it will take lesser time for roasting.
  4. Take the coconut mixture, fried spices, tamarind and water in a grinder and grind it to a smooth paste.
  5. Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil in the same wok. Once heated add cumin seeds and chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent. Add cubed potatoes ( traditionally added with skin) and allow it to cook for a while.
  6. Then add the ground paste and cooked peas and mix well. You may have to add water to form a gravy.
  7. Add the turmeric powder and salt and allow it to boil.
  8. Serve hot. It can be had with chapatis, but tastes best with bhakris or Pav (Dinner rolls)