Everyone is all too familiar with heavy Sindhi breakfasts like Dal Pakwan that borders on chaat with its many chutney-ed toppings and ghee-laden Koki, but its the lighter everyday staples that go unnoticed such as Seyal Dabal. A breakfast of bread or pav soaked in the simplest of tomato gravies, it comes together in a cinch. Born out of necessity I suppose, seyal dabal is usually made with bread that’s leftover and much like panzanella, it absorbs flavour and moisture to transform into something totally different and delicious.
Every Sindhi household has their own take on the seyal dabal. Some play with the tempering ingredients while others will add an extra dry spice that usually compliments their other tomato gravies. It is a well-known fact that good seyal dabal is made with fluffy pav that soaks up all that tomatoey goodness very well, but we tend to ignore this and add whatever stale bread that’s been out and neglected in the kitchen.
In the Gulabani household, we have a few set rules about our Seyal Dabal. We only use grated tomatoes, complete with all its juices so we don’t miss out on a drop of that tomatoey flavour. There’s no ginger, garlic or onion used, though both the maternal and paternal sides of my family have recipes that would use either one. I prefer to keep them out so that my seyal dabal doesn’t end up tasting like my aloo ki sabzi (same tomato gravy, but with ginger). The dry spices used are just a touch of turmeric and red chilli powder for colour and some spice.
Leftover bread or pav is dunked in a lightly-spiced tomato gravy in this one-pan breakfast that's a super delicious way to start the day.
Tomatoes 3, medium, grated and the juices reserved
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Black mustard seeds 1 tsp
Curry leaves 6-7
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp, plus more to adjust
Bread 5-6 slices or Pav 3-4 big pieces
Freshly chopped coriander 1 tbsp, plus more to garnish
In a kadai or a saucepan with a cover, heat the vegetable oil till quite hot to temper over high heat. Add in the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Next, add in the curry leaves, followed by the grated tomatoes. Add in the teaspoon of salt, the turmeric and the red chilli powder and cook covered over medium-high heat to speed up the cooking of the tomatoes. You want to cook the gravy down till it doesn’t taste of raw tomatoes. Uncover the pan and stir the tomatoes in 5-6 minutes and check the gravy, moving it around to break any bits of tomatoes that might still seem chunky. You can add a splash of water if you feel the tomatoes may catch.
Once the tomatoes are cooked, add the coriander and enough water to submerge the tomato gravy completely. Cover the pan again and over medium-high heat, bring it up to a rolling boil. This blends the flavours of the tomato together with the water. Uncover the pan and tear the bread or pav into little pieces and arrange around the gravy. Turn the heat down to low and let the bread/pav sit in the gravy for 2 minutes, before lightly giving it one to two stirs. I like my final result to be slightly wet, but you can dry it out further by cooking the gravy. Once the bread has soaked all the tomato’s juices, take it off the flame and serve with the remaining chopped coriander. Serve immediately.