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Sep 20, 2009 07:38 PM

Dalings, please tell me about the different types of dal

Indian food is not something I know a lot about. So today I'm cruising down the aisles of my local Raley's supermarket and once again the International foods aisles have been reorganized and I stumbled across a shelf of dal - masoor , moong, urad

It just never occurred to me that there are different varieties. Cook's Thesaurus says "Dal is the Indian term for peas, beans, or lentils that have been split and often skinned, but the name is sometimes used for all lentils, peas, or beans, or to cooked dishes made with them"

However, this 1994 Los Angeles Times article about dal seems to suggest that what is used in Indian cooking isn't really equivalent to, well, lentils

She starts "dal --India's umbrella term for legumes (which can be loosely defined as anything that grows in a pod)."

So red lentils and masoor dal are two different things? Chana dal really isn't the same as chick peas?

Indian cooking always seemed intimidating ... a whole different spice palate. Also eathing in restaurants, too much Indian food is way too oily. But, I don't know, the chance to play with a new set of dried legumes has me interested.

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  1. I found this link that explains a bit about each of the most common dals.

    I tried to find a site with a pic for each type, but no luck.

    The main info you need to cook different dals besides a recipe is the soaking time for each one. Then you are good to go. For example, moong and masoor you can soak just 20 mins before cooking, or up to an hour. Chana daal I would go for an hour. Cooking time will depend on whether you want the channa to remain whole or break up, or become some in between state. For whole, soak for one hour, then boil and simmer on low heat for 20 mins till tender. Chickpeas, rajma, black chickpeas, black eyed peas, and many others need a good overnight soak, then they cook in about an hour.

    Chana daal is a type of split chickpea. But chana, also called chola, is a chickpea as you know it. Masoor daal is orange, but turns yellow when you cook it. I think it is native to South Asia and isn't actually the same as a 'red lentil.' Moong daal is thought of by some as a commoner's daal, chana daal is a nicer daal. I dunno, there is lots of things to say about daal, but I am out of tips for now.

    You can also sprout many of the daals and make a sprout curry.

    3 Replies
    1. re: luckyfatima

      Really good link. Thanks.

      It had the best description of dal "The term "dal"or "daal" refers to a bean or lentil which has had the outer husk removed and the remaining lentil is then split. This ensures a quicker cooking time and a softer, creamier texture when cooked. '

      That link for the Cook's Thesaurus has photos of the dals, but the descriptions are not as good as your link. Nice mentions of regional uses. Never heard the word 'pulses; before.

      I never knew about sprouted curries.

      1. re: rworange

        While I agree that daal refers to a split legume, I'm not so sure that it's always with skin removed. I've been cooking a daal of the week for a friend with medical problems for a couple months, and have accumulated quite a collection of raw ingredients. Masoor dal cooks the fastest and doesn't need any soaking. I just give it a good rinse and then cook. Masoor is said to have the highest protein content of the daals and chana daal (or bengal gram) has the lowest glycemic index. So far I've used kala chana, tur dal, chana dal, masoor dal, and urad dal.

        BTW, I found a great price on organic masoor dal (also called Egyptian dal) at the health food store in El Cerrito on San Pablo Ave. Only $2/lb in bulk bins, whereas every other place I've seen it, the price is more than $3/lb and sometimes close to $4. I have not found local organic sources for the other dals. The rest are priced quite low at various Indo-Pak stores.

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        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Hey Melanie, You are correct. Dals are not always used without skin and split. We in India use them un-split and skinned too. The masoor and Urad are the best examples to put here. These two dals are used in each form, i.e. spilt, skin removed, un-split and with skin.

          Here is link to different Lentil recipes you might like to try.

    2. The COTM crowd is deciding between Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking" and Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking" as the cookbook of the month. I don't have the Sahni book, but have been using Jaffrey's for about 15 years now. It has great recipes for a variety of dals.

      I've never participated in COTM, but have been craving Indian lately and just found a brand-new Indian market around the corner from my house. So I'm looking forward to this opportunity to learn more about a lot of Indian dishes, including dals and other pulses (legumes).

      FWIW, masoor dal is a split Egyptian lentil. Starts red but cooks up a rich golden yellow. Moong dal is split mung beans (the same beans that are often found sprouted). I also keep urad dal, chana dal, and kabuli chana around. They're cheap, healthy, nutritious food, and they're dead easy to cook well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        One question I've always had. Van dal, is that split lima beans or split white hyacinth beans, I seem to have seen both....