What is Daal? Understanding Indian Lentils 101
Is it daal, dal, dahl or Dhal? These are ways in which lentils or pulses are named. To be honest right way of writing or calling it would be either daal or dal, adding an extra ‘h’ makes the easy sounding word turn tough, but again call whatever you like it is the best known vegan protein naturally available today. There are more than 50 different lentil groups in India but we will focus on the most commonly used ones in the Indian kitchen.
But before we progress, you have a question in your mind about the term ‘daal’, don’t you? Well the terminology is used in 2 situations:
- Dried Lentil/Pulse/Bean is called daal. For e.g. – Mung Beans is called Hara Moong Daal, or Split Yellow Peas is called Toor Daal
- And any dish or lentil soup prepared using this food group is also called daal. For eg. Daal Makhani (a creamy lentil soup made with a mixture of black lentils and red kidney beans) or Daal Tadka (A lentil soup with a tempering of spices on top)
Thus the term ‘daal’ is used interchangeably.
Let us look at some of the basic types of lentils used in any Indian kitchen and maybe you can comment below if these are available in your country and your cuisine as well.
Masoor Daal / Red lentils / rodelinzen
And it also found in whole called Sabut Masoor is looks brown in color. The brown form of this lentil is used very commonly in Middle Eastern cuisine.
It is the easiest lentil to cook as it takes the least amount of time to cook. It can be cooked under 10 mins.
Moong Daal (Mung Beans)/ mungbonen
This is the split mung beans which is commonly known moong dal. The split ones are more commonly used in Indian cooking and is easy lentil to cook with. The whole green lentil or mung beans needs to be soaked for atleast 4 hours such that it rehydrates before it can be boiled and cooked.
Chana Daal (Split Chickpeas)/gespliterwten
This is another common lentil used in Indian kitchen. It is split garbanzo or chickpea and is used across the country in different recipes right from North to South (using it for their chutneys) to East (adding coconut shavings to the boiled daal) to West (coarsely grounded daal spiced and eaten with chapati)
Toor Daal (Split Pigeon Peas)
Commonly also known as Arhar Daal and is very high in protein content. It is very commonly used in Indian kitchen. It takes a little longer to cook, but once washed and soaked for an hour before cooking it, it gets done in no time.
The very famous Gujarati daal or Maharashtrian varan is made using this daal.
Urid Daal (Black Split lentils)
This is enjoyed whole, split or half split as well. It brings a slimy texture to the soup when used after boiling.
Some of the most commonly known dishes are Daal Makhani (using the whole black lentils), Dosa – the famous south Indian crepes is made by fermenting this lentil with rice. And in the Netherlands the famous Bara is made using the split black lentils called ‘oerdie’.
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