Classic Dals from India

This article is authored by Bonny Shah. Bonny is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator.

Pulses are the superfood we all need in our diet. While they are a great source of plant protein and fibre, pulses are also rich in essential nutrients such as potassium, iron and folate. What’s more, they are low on fat and sodium content, and have a low glycemic index, too. This makes them particularly beneficial to people with diabetes by assisting in maintaining healthy blood glucose and insulin levels.Dal consumption can improve serum lipid profiles and positively affect several other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, platelet activity and inflammation. Including pulses in the diet is a healthy way to meet dietary recommendations and is associated with reduced risk of several chronic diseases.

In India, pulses such as moong, chana, toor dal, urad dal and more are easily available and affordable. Dal is a common preparation made from these nutritional pulses, and it is no surprise that every region has their own characteristic dal recipes. Here’s a look at some well-known dal dishes from across the country to inspire your next cooking session.

Dal Makhani

Types of Dals

This Punjabi specialty is made from whole urad dal or black gram and rajma or kidney beans. As the name suggests, it has a rich creamy texture and contains a good portion of cream and butter. The slow cooking technique also adds to the dal’s velvety texture. A special charcoal smoking technique gives it that classic smoky flavour.

The combination of urad dal and rajma is very good for people with diabetes as these dals regulate the glucose levels in the blood. They are filled with important vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and calcium. All of these play a crucial role in affecting your bone mineral density. Both the pulses are high in protein and fibre and may aid weight loss.

Tamata Pappu

This dal or “pappu” as they call it in Telugu, has its origin in Andhra cuisine. It is made with arhar or pigeon pea dal. After soaking, the dal is first sautéed with mustard seeds, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and various spices before being pressure cooked. And you’re left with a lovely tangy dal with a mild, yet rich, flavour.

As per traditional folk medicine, pigeon pea may prevent and help manage human ailments like bronchitis, coughs, pneumonia, respiratory infections, pain, dysentery, menstrual disorders, curing sores, wounds, abdominal tumours and diabetes.

Chholar Dal

Chholar dal is a specialty at Bengali occasions and festivals such as Durga Pujo. This traditional dish is made with chana dal or Bengal gram. It also contains ingredients like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, raisins, cashew and sugar. It is tempered with bay leaf, jeera, ginger and other spice powders. The end result is a rich, sweet, thick dal that is intensely aromatic and incredibly delicious.

Dal Bukhara

While this is not a traditional Indian recipe, it was made famous by Delhi’s ITC Maurya Hotel. The slow cooking technique is similar to the one used in dal makhani and this recipe calls for a generous amount of cream and butter as well. The pulse used is urad dal, and the dal is cooked with a special tomato purée and spice mix.

Dal Tadka

Dals in India

This north Indian dal dish gets its unique flavouring from the tadka or tempering. It is made with a mix of toor dal or pigeon peas and masoor dal or red lentils. The dal is prepared as usual with onions and tomatoes and spices such as haldi and garam masala. Tata Sampann’s Dal Tadka Masala offers the perfect spice balance. For the tadka, chillies, garlic, jeera and chilli powder are sautéed in hot ghee and poured over the dal.

Dal Panchmel

The nutrition of pulses shines in this dish from Rajasthan which uses five different types of lentils - chana dal, urad dal, moong or green gram dal, arhar or toor dal and moth dal. This makes it a great dish as it gives us the benefits of different dals in one meal. After the dal mixture is cooked, it is infused with a tempering of traditional dal ingredients along with spices like cardamom and clove.

Try Tata Sampann’s range of unpolished, nutritious pulses for your next dal dish and make your meal all the more wholesome. Happy eating!


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