Dals and Dry Beans

Know your vegan sources of protein !! Dals and Dry Beans 

 I grew up eating dals and dry beans which are now recognized as protein-rich foods in the vegan world. In India, all members of the dried pea and bean family, and the dishes made from them comes under the blanket word -  DAL and are staple food of the vegetarian kitchen .The repertoire of dal dishes is so vast that you can make a different one every day, without repetition, for months.

     Dals can be made into liquid soups, thick purées, sauces, stews, fried savories, moist raw chutneys, crispy pancakes, sprouted salads and sweets. The thoughtful cook can select a dal dish to suit any meal, from breakfast to late dinner. You can also vary your dal dishes according to season: warm and hearty in winter, light and refreshing in summer.

     The dal dish you choose for any meal should complement the flavors, appearances and textures of the other dishes. Nutritionists say that all dried beans are rich in iron, vitamin B .

 CLASSIFICATION OF DALS::  Dals are available whole, split with skins, split without skins and ground into flour. 

BLACK-EYED PEAS:  When split and husked they are known as chowla dal ,Whole, they are called lobya. Widely available in the United States at most  food stores and Indian stores .

CHANA DAL: A variety of small chickpea, sold split and without the skin. They are pale buff to bright yellow and about ¼ inch (6 mm) in diameter. Chana dal is classically used in thick-textured dal purées. It is also soaked, drained and deep-fried as a munchy snack, or ground into wet pastes to be seasoned and fried into savories. Chana dal is used raw in fresh chutney and ground into flour for extensive use in sweets and savories. It is available at Indian grocery stores.

CHICKPEAS (KABLI CHANA): Also known as garbanzo beans. Chickpeas are pale buff to light brown and are used whole, without skins.  Chickpeas are popularly used as whole dried beans with potatoes, savory sauces, yogurt sauces or tomatoes. They can also be roasted and ground into flour for sweets and savories. Chickpeas are now available everywhere .

 KALA CHANA:  My favorite bean ,Kala chana  are somewhat smaller and darker brown than chickpeas, but have the same shape. Despite their apparent similarities, these two beans are not interchangeable, as they have different flavors and cooking requirements. Kala chanas are popular in whole bean dishes and, like chickpeas, are exceptionally nutritious, providing more vitamin C than most other legumes and nearly twice as much iron. They are also very high in protein. Kala Chanas are available at Indian  grocery stores.

 KIDNEY BEANS (RAJMA DAL): Red-brown, oval beans. They are used in a spicy North Indian vegetarian chili and other whole bean dishes. They are available at Indian grocery stores as well as as supermarkets.

MUNG DAL: Also known as mung beans and green grams. Mung dal is popular in three forms:

  1. Whole mung beans, with skins (sabat moong). These are BB-sized, pale yellow oval beans with moss-green skins, easy to digest and relatively quick to cook. They are used primarily for sprouts and dry bean dishes.

2. Split mung dal without skins (moong dal). These are used extensively in soups, stews and sauces. They become slightly glutinous when cooked into thick purées and make excellent dal soup. They can be soaked, drained and fried into crispy snacks.

3. Split mung dal with skins -These are recommended whenever soaked beans are required for savories and chutneys. They too are available at Indian grocery stores.

MUTH BEANS: Known as dew bean. The beans are used fresh as a vegetable; dried in whole bean dishes; and soaked, drained and fried as crunchy snacks. 

SPLIT PEAS (MATAR DAL): There are two popular varieties—green and yellow. Both are about ¼ inch (6 mm) in diameter. The yellow can be used as a substitute for chana dal or toovar dal. The green is ideal for thin to medium soups or purées.

TOOVAR DAL: Also known as arhar dal, tuar dal and pigeon peas. The pale yellow to gold lentils, about ¼ inch (6 mm) in diameter, are sold split, without skins. Slightly sweet, they are popular in dal soups and purées and the South Indian daily staple known as sambar.

URAD DAL: Also known as black gram. These beans are popular in three forms, all available at Indian grocery stores:

1. Whole urad beans, with skins (sabat urad). These BB-sized, oval ivory beans have gray-black skins. They are used whole in dried bean dishes.

2. Split, without skins (urad dal). Used in purées and soups and ground into flour for savories and sweets.

3. Split, with skins (chilke urad dal). Used just like




1 . Put the dal in a sieve and lower it into a large bowl filled two-thirds with water. Rub the dal between your hands for about 30 seconds. Lift out the sieve, discard the water and refill the bowl.

2. Repeat the process three or four times or until the rinse water is practically clear. Drain or soak as directed in the recipe.




  The simplest way to cook any dal or dry beans is in a pressure cooker or an instant pot . The instant pot has completely changed the way I cook dal and beans. There is though one thing that I still follow from traditionally Indian cooking of dals and beans and that is:: the soaking time. Split dals is usually 20 min but beans like rajma, kala channa ,black eye peas need to be soaked overnight or atleast 6 hours. Don't miss this important step as it releases sugars and letchins that are not good for the digestive track. Once done soaking throw the water and use fresh water for your recipes 

     Cooking time varies with the type of dal, the hardness or softness of the water, and the age of the dal. The consistency of the dal—liquid or dry—is determined by the amount of water.

Small whole beans—mung, muth and urad—take up to 7-9 minutes in an insatnt pot and 3-4 whistles in a pressure cooker .  

Thin split dal soups and whole beans cook rapidly in a pressure cooker, a small amount of dal soup cooks to perfection in 5-7 minutes, or 2-3 whistles .

Whole chickpeas become butter-soft in15- 20 minutes or 6-7 whisles in an pressure cooker .

  If cooking in pressure cooker make sure to clean the dals and beans well, because legumes cooked without enough water or insufficiently washed tend to froth up and clog the vent. You will get the hang of it after the first few times . 

 Hope you liked this information page about dals and dry beans .Plese leave a comment .Enjoy !!


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