In Indian cuisine, dal (also spelled daal or dhal in English;[1] pronunciation: [d̪aːl], Hindi: दाल, Urdu: دال), paruppu (Tamil: பருப்பு), or pappu (Telugu: పప్పు) are dried, split pulses (e.g., lentils, peas, and beans) that do not require soaking before cooking. India is the largest producer of pulses in the world.[2][3] The term is also used for various soups prepared from these pulses. These pulses are among the most important staple foods in South Asian countries, and form an important part of the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent.[4]

Lentils are a staple ingredient in cuisines from the Indian subcontinent. Clockwise from upper right: split red lentils, common green whole lentils, and Le Puy lentils. Whole lentils have their outer coats visible.
Alternative namesDaal, dail, dahl, pappu, ooti
Region or stateIndian subcontinent
Main ingredientsLentils, peas or beans

Use edit

Dal or paruppu is the main ingredient of the Indian snack vada.
Dal tadka and naan

The most common way of preparing dal is in the form of a soup to which onions, tomatoes and various spices may be added. The outer hull may or may not be stripped off. Almost all types of dal come in three forms: (1) unhulled or sabut (meaning whole in Hindi), e.g., sabut urad dal or mung sabut; (2) split with hull left on the split halves is described as chilka (which means shell in Hindi), e.g. chilka urad dal, mung dal chilka; (3) split and hulled or dhuli (meaning washed), e.g., urad dhuli or mung dhuli in Hindi.[5][6]

Dal is frequently eaten with flatbreads such as rotis or chapatis, or with rice. The latter combination is called dal bhat in Nepali, Bengali and Marathi. In addition, certain types of dal are fried and salted and eaten as a dry snack, and a variety of savory snacks are made by frying a paste made from soaked and ground dals in different combinations, to which other ingredients such as spices and nuts (commonly cashews) may be added.

Etymology edit

The word dāl (dal) derives from the Sanskrit verbal root dal- "to split",[7][8] which is inherited from Proto-Indo-European *delh₁- “to split, divide”.[9][10][11]

Use by region edit

Dal preparations are eaten with rice, chapati and naan on the Indian subcontinent. The manner in which it is cooked and presented varies by region. In South India, dal is often called "paruppu". It is primarily used to make a dish called sambar. It is also used to make paruppu that is mixed with charu and rice.

Nutrition edit

Dal tadka served with rice and papadam, a staple meal in the Indian subcontinent
Fire-toasted papads, using lentils as a major ingredient
Dhokla, a steamed, fermented chana dal snack using lentils

Cooked (boiled) dal contains 9% protein, 70% water, 20% carbohydrates (including 8% fiber), and 1% fat.[12] It also supplies a rich content (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of the B vitamin, folate (45% DV) and manganese (25% DV), with moderate amounts of thiamine (11% DV) and several dietary minerals, such as iron (19% DV) and phosphorus (18% DV).[12]

Macronutrients in common foods as a % of Carbohydrates
Food Carbs (non-Fiber) Fiber Protein Fat
Wheat 100 20.6 21.3 2.5
Rice 100 1.6 9 0.8
Soybean 100 44.2 174 95
Pigeon Pea 100 31 45.4 3
Milk 100 0 61 61.8
Guava 100 60 28.6 11.2
Carrot 100 41.1 14.7 3.6
Spinach 100 157 207 28
Potato 100 14.4 13 0.6
Sweet Potato 100 17.7 9.4 0.5
Eggplant 100 148 43.4 8.6
Apple 100 21 2.2 1.4
Orange 100 25.6 1.0 1.2

Note: Carbohydrates do not include fiber. Source:

Split pigeon pea, commonly used in dal
Selected nutrients in grams per 100 g
Item Water Protein
Cooked rice[13] 68.4 2.7
Cooked dal[14] 68.5 11.9
Roti[15] 33.5 11.5
Cooked soybean[16] 62.5 16.6
Boiled egg[17] 74.6 12.6
Cooked chicken[18] 64.3 25.3
Nutrient contents in %DV of Dals, wheat and rice (Raw, Uncooked) per 100 g
Vitamins Minerals
Food Protein A B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B9 B12 Ch. C D E K Ca Fe Mg P K Na Zn Cu Mn Se
Cooking Reduction % 10 30 20 25 25 35 0 0 30 10 15 20 10 20 5 10 25
Rice 14 0 12 3 11 20 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 6 7 2 0 8 9 49 22
Wheat 27 0 28 7 34 19 21 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 20 36 51 12 0 28 28 151 128
Soybean 73 0 58 51 8 8 19 94 0 24 10 0 4 59 28 87 70 70 51 0 33 83 126 25
Toor Dal 43 1 43 11 15 13 13 114 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 29 46 37 40 1 18 53 90 12
Urad Dal 45 0 24 21 10 0 22 54 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 58 75 54 21 3 35 0 0 0
Mung Dal 43 0 54 19 15 38 29 156 0 0 6 0 3 9 13 52 53 52 27 0 28 0 49 0
Chana Dal[19] 25 1 32 12 8 16 27 139 0 17 7 0 0 0 11 35 29 37 25 24 23 42 110 12

Note: All nutrient values including protein are in %DV per 100 grams of the food item. Significant values are highlighted in light gray color and bold letters.[12][20] Cooking reduction = % Maximum typical reduction in nutrients due to boiling without draining for ovo-lacto-vegetables group.[21][22]

Common ingredients edit

Idlis, steamed rice and black lentil (de-husked) cakes
  • Pigeon pea, i.e., yellow pigeon pea, is available either plain or oily. It is called toor dal in Hindi.[23] It is called thuvaram paruppu in Tamil Nadu, thuvara parippu in Kerala and is the main ingredient for the dish sambar. In Karnataka, it is called togari bele and is an important ingredient in bisi bele bath. It is called kandi pappu in Telugu and is used in the preparation of a staple dish pappu charu. It is also known as arhar dal in northern India.
  • Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of black chickpeas and then splitting the kernel. Although machines can do this, it can be done at home by soaking the whole chickpeas and removing the loose skins by rubbing. In Karnataka it is called kadle bele. Other varieties of chickpea may be used, e.g., kabuli dal.
Plain dal served with roti, sauteed okra and green-mango pickle
  • Yellow split peas are very prevalent in the Indian communities of Guyana, Fiji, Suriname, Jamaica, South Africa, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, and are popular amongst Indians in the United States as well as India. There, it is referred to generically as dal and is the most popular dal. It is prepared similarly to dals found in India, but may be used in recipes. The whole dried pea is called matar or matar dal in India. The whole dried yellow pea is the main ingredient in the common Bengali street food ghugni.
  • Split mung beans (mung dal) is by far the most popular in Bangladesh and West Bengal (moog dal, (মুগ ডাল)). It is used in parts of South India, such as in the Tamil dish ven pongal. Roasted and lightly salted or spiced mung bean is a popular snack in most parts of India.
  • Urad dal, sometimes referred to as "black gram", is a primary ingredient of the south Indian dishes idli and dosa. It is one of the main ingredients of East Indian (Odia and Bengali or Assamese) bori, sun-dried dumplings. The Punjabi version is dal makhani. It is called uddina bele in Karnataka, biulir dal in Bengali. It is rich in protein.
  • Masoor dal: split red lentils. In Karnataka, it is called kempu (red) togari bele.
  • Rajma dal: split kidney beans.
  • Mussyang is made from dals of various colours found in various hilly regions of Nepal.
  • Panchratna dal (Hindi) ("five jewels") is a mixture of five varieties of dal, which produces a dish with a unique flavour.
  • Navrangi Dal is a lesser known Dal variety from Himachal Pradesh. It is mostly cultivated in Himachal and is multicoloured.
  • Moth Bean: is an Indian dal main ingredient for popular Indian snack bikaneri bhujia and Maharashtrian snacks misal and usal.
  • Pulses may be split but not hulled; they are distinguished from hulled dals by adding the word chilka (skin).

Split and whole pulses edit

Split red lentil seeds (size 6 mm)

Although dal generally refers to split pulses, whole pulses can be referred to as sabut dhal and split pulses as dhuli dhal.[24][better source needed] The hulling of a pulse is intended to improve digestibility and palatability. It also affects the nutrition provided by the dish, significantly increasing protein and reducing dietary fibre content.[25] Pulses with their outer hulls intact are also quite popular in the Indian subcontinent as the main cuisine. Over 50 different varieties of pulses are known in the Indian subcontinent.[citation needed]

Preparation edit

Dal tadka garnished with fried onion
Dal tadka and chapati

Most dal recipes are quite simple to prepare. The standard preparation begins with boiling a variety of dal (or a mix) in water with some turmeric, salt to taste, and then adding a fried garnish at the end of the cooking process. In some recipes, tomatoes, kokum, unripe mango, jaggery, or other ingredients are added while cooking the dal, often to impart a sweet-sour flavour.

The fried garnish for dal goes by many names, including chaunk, tadka/tarka, bagar, fodni, and phoran. The ingredients in the chaunk for each variety of dal vary by region and individual tastes. The raw spices (more commonly cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, and sometimes fenugreek seeds and dried red chili pepper) are first fried for a few seconds in the hot oil on medium/low heat. This is generally followed by ginger, garlic, and onion, which are generally fried for 10 minutes. After the onion turns golden brown, ground spices (turmeric, coriander, red chili powder, garam masala, etc.) are added. The chaunk is then poured over the cooked dal.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "20 Dhal recipes". BBC Good Food. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  2. ^ S R, Devegowda; OP, Singh; Kumari, Kalpana (2018). "Growth performance of pulses in India" (PDF). The Pharma Innovation Journal. 7 (11): 394–399.
  3. ^ "FAO in India". Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  4. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2014). "Dal". The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780199677337.
  5. ^ Yotam Ottolenghi. "Pulse points: Yotam Ottolenghi's dried bean and pea recipes". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Sample recipe for Chilka Urad dhal, split unhulled urad".
  7. ^ John Ayto (2012). The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-19-964024-9.
  8. ^ Williams, Monier (1899), A Sanskrit–English Dictionary, Oxford, Clarendon Press, OCLC 458052227, page 471
  9. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (2006) The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford Linguistics), New York: Oxford University Press, page 372
  10. ^ Rix, Helmut, editor (2001) Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben [Lexicon of Indo-European Verbs] (in German), 2nd edition, Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, page 114
  11. ^ Pokorny, Julius (1959) Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Indo-European Etymological Dictionary] (in German), volume 1, Bern, München: Francke Verlag, page 0194
  12. ^ a b c "Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt per 100 g". by Conde Nast; from USDA National Nutrient Database, Standard Reference 21. 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt Nutrition Facts & Calories".
  15. ^ "Food Composition Databases Show Foods -- Bread, chapati or roti, plain, commercially prepared". Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Show Nutrients List". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  21. ^ "USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 6" (PDF). USDA. USDA. December 2007.
  22. ^ "Nutritional Effects of Food Processing". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  23. ^ What is the difference between Split Yellow Pea, Split Chickpea and Split Pigeon Pea?
  24. ^ Mehta, Nita (2006). Dal & Roti. SNAB. p12. ISBN 978-81-86004-06-7.
  25. ^ Wang, N.; Hatcher, D.W.; Toews, R.; Gawalko, E.J. (2009). "Influence of cooking and dehulling on nutritional composition of several varieties of lentils (Lens culinaris)". LWT - Food Science and Technology. 42 (4): 842–848. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2008.10.007.

Further reading edit