Jain Temple

Hot Spots

India Links
Call Home


Art & Culture
Book Shelf


Chat and Blog

About Us

Contact Us
About Us
Advertise to NRIs

Desi Cuisine and food: Recepie for Dal and Indian Dhals >> Restaurants >> Desi Cuisine

India is such a hot topic these days with India's rise as an economic giant. It is also hard to ignore what is one of the world's most important and influential cuisines. The British may have conquered India politically but India had conquered Britain with its food with 70% of British household having Indian food on a regular basis. In this section, we will present articles on Indian cuisine and food.

On this page, we present interesting recepies for a few simple-to-make dhals

You may check out other interesting recepies for desi cuisine online


Dal - India's Super Food - Healthy, tasty and good for the environment too

Dal is what chicken soup is in the west - comforting food. Dals or lentils, peas and beans are cooked practically (twice) daily in almost every Indian home, vegetarian or not. Each region has its own favorites and cooking methods. Dals can range from spicy-sweet to scorching hot, soup like or thick creamed consistency or dry like a pilaf.
The world of dal in India is truly one of India's culinary gem. Most dals do not need soaking. Roasted or oil sizzled cumin seeds add an extra dimension to dal and aids in digestion of dal.

A Healthy Food
Pulses are the main source of protein in India. For India's mainly vegetarian population pulses are a vital part of the diet. For non vegetarians, pulses offer an alternative source of protein without the fat but with a lot of fiber. Beans and lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, iron, vitamins and minerals. Beans and other legumes have all the nutrients now recognized as important in preventing heart disease, cancer and obesity.

A Tasty Food
Dal is fat free and nature has designed it to absorb various combinations of seasonings and spices. The tempering, or seasoning, is what makes the dal come alive and transforms it into a tasty dish
A Good for the Environmental Food
In her book, The State of the Environment Atlas, Joni Seager states, 'In cycling our grain through livestock, we waste 90 percent of its protein and 96 percent of its calories. An acre of legumes (beans, lentils, peas) can produce ten times as much more protein than an acre devoted to meat production. Thus the greater the human consumption of animal products, the fewer people can be fed
The other factors that make lentils look good environmentally is when we factor in the amount of water required to grow lentils vs. meat, methane (a global warming gas) released by cattle and the forests lost to cattle ranching. Lentils have a far reaching effect on the future lifestyle of mankind.

History of Beans, Lentils, Legumes, Pulses, Dal

There are over 1000 legumes species. Pulses and legumes are in the class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Beans and Lentils have been found in 5,000 year old settlements in the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, in Egyptian pyramids, Hungarian caves, Britain and Switzerland. Even earlier civilizations like Peruvian Indians, Middle Eastern and east Indian civilizations.. Beans and lentils are thought to have originated from the wild lentils that still grow in India, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.

Even now peas, chickpeas and lentils are produced and consumed mainly in Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and the Middle East but because of interest in international cuisines, healthier diets and the desire to use herbs, spices and seasonings and low amounts of fat there is a new interest in beans and lentils.

People have been eating legumes for thousands of years and these foods are the main source of protein for people in many cultures all over the world.

WHAT ARE LEGUMES (Beans and Lentils)?

`Legumes or Pulses: the edible seed of certain leguminous plants' that are from products Chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas and split peas. Leguminous plants provide a valuable source of protein for people and they that fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which make them important for the environment. Beans and Lentils are very low in fat and high in fiber and are frequently referred to as a wonder food.

Dried:legumes and pulses are classified into three groups: beans, peas and lentils. They are eaten either whole or un-hulled (with the skin still intact) or split in half with or without their skins. In the west especially in USA long cooking beans are popular. But if you want to make pulses part of your regular diet (as it is tasty and healthy) try India's two moong dal favorites - yellow moong and black moong (urad dal). These dals cook quickly and are easy to digest because they are low in the complex sugars that are not easily broken down by the human digestive enzymes.

Bean Initiation - New to Beans?

If you are a vegetarian and want to get the full nutritional benefit of dal, gradually increase your consumption until you are consuming at least three to four cups of cooked dal or lentils per week. Also add rice, grains, yogurt to your meal so you have all the amino acids or complete protein needs.

Storing tips

Beans and lentils store best in dry airtight containers at room temperature. Do not store dry bean in the refrigerator.
Once cooked, beans can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 5 days and in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
Beans and lentils can be stored indefinitely.
Always rinse and sort beans before cooking. Beans and lentils can have very small stones but this is rare. Small stones are difficult to remove from beans and lentils commercially because stones are organic and have to be removed by human hands.

Nutritional Information

(250mL) - Beans
Beans provide an economical source of vegetable protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and vitamens.
Carbohydrates : 43g
Fat : 1g
Protein : 16g
Calcium : 52mg
Iron : 5.5mg
Sodium : 4mg
Potassium : 754mg
Dietary Fiber : 6.7g

Dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas are low in fat and good sources of protein, starch ,fiber iron, calcium and minerals.
Insoluble Fiber:
Insoluble fiber is found in peas, beans and lentils, wheat bran, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and breads. Insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of food through the intestine and helps in improving regularity. Insoluble fiber is believed have a role in the prevention of colon cancer. Lentils contain mostly insoluble fiber, while beans and peas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble Fiber:
Found in beans, peas, chickpeas, oat bran, fruits and lentils. Soluble fiber stays as a gel inside the digestive system and is thought to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and delay entry of sugar into the blood stream.
Folic Acid:
Beans and lentils are rich in the B vitamin, folic acid. Folic acid is important at the time of conception and after conception by women and low amounts of folic acid could put the fetus at risk of Neural Tube Defects.
Pulses are an excellent source of potassium which contributes to a regular heart beat, regulates transfer of nutrients to cells, controls water balance and helps regulate blood pressure.
B Vitamins:
Pulses are good sources of niacin, thiamin, panthothenic acid and pyridoxine, necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells, for normal functioning of the skin nerves and digestive system in the chemical reactions of the amino acids and proteins.
Pulses are good sources of vegetable protein which must be combined with a complementary protein to become a complete protein containing the nine essential amino acids. Beans and Lentils, when combined with nuts, seeds, rice or grains, fulfill the requirements of a complete protein.
Protein is required by the body for enzymes, antibodies, transport vehicles, cellular pumps, tendons, ligaments, scars, cores of bone and teeth, filaments of hair, materials of nails and more.

Traditional Complementary Protein Combinations

Lentils + Wheat/rice
Soybeans + Rice Indochina
Peas/beans +
Middle East
Beans + Corn Central and South America

Varieties of Dals

The varieties are Moong Dal Whole, Urad Dal Whole, Urad Dal Chlka, Tuvar Dal/Toovar Dal/Toor Dal, Makhan Urad Dal without skin, Kala Channa, Kabuli Chana, Moong Dal Split and without Skin, Masoor Dal, Channa Dal, and Rajma

Recepie sample for Louki Chana Dal

1 cup Chanadal, soaked for 1 hour
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder (haldi)
1 tsp. ginger paste
3 young zucchini peeled and cubed
½ tsp. of garam masala
3 Tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds (jeera)
1-2 whole red chillies
1/2 tsp. asafoetida (hing)
2 tsp. ground coriander powder
(I sometimes add a tablespoon of sweet coconut to my dish- this is optional but it makes this dish just wonderful - Kavita)
½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt to taste
For the garnish - 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro.

Pick through the dal and wash it. Drain the water. Add 3 cups of water to a heavy pot and add dal, 1 Tbsp. of ghee or oil, turmeric, ginger and salt to taste. Boil the dal. Reduce heat. Add zucchini and garam masala (add coconut - optional) and let it simmer.
As dal is simmering, heat ghee in a small sauce pan and fry cumin seeds and red chillies till they brown. Add asafoetida, coriander powder and fry the seasonings for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the seasonings into dal and let it continue to simmer on low until the zucchini is butter soft. Adjust the water so that the dal has the consistency you like( from soup like consistency to thick soup, pour over dal or to eat with flat bread)
Add lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Dal Tarkari (Dal and Vegetable Soup)

1 cup Split Moongdal
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
1" cinnamon stick
1 tsp. turmeric powder (Optional)
1 Tbsp. butter
10 oz. or more vegetables of your choice ( washed and cubed)
1 tomato chopped
1 Tbsp.ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp.cumin seeds (Optional)
2 dried chilies
1 tsp.ginger paste
1 Tbsp.chopped cilantro leaves
Salt to taste
1. Clean and wash the dal. Drain. Set aside.
2. Combine water, salt, bay leaves, cinnamon in a sauce pan/crock pot and boil.
3. Add dal to boiling water.
4. Lower to medium heat and cook for about 20 minutes.
5. When dal becomes tender, remove froth that collects on top.
6. Add butter, turmeric powder.
7. For the seasoning,
Heat 2 Tbsp. of ghee in a small pan, add cumin seeds and red chillies.
Stir once. Add ginger paste and fry for 5 seconds.
8. Pour seasoning into the dal.
9. Drop in cut vegetables and tomato, replace lid and cook until vegetables are tender.
11. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
12. Serve dal soup with rice or bread.


Hariyali Masoor and Greens Dal from Punjab

Serves: 6-10
1 1/2 cups masoor (split red lentils) dal
2 cups boiled greens (spincah,fenugreek leaves and cilantro)
1 chopped onion
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. amchur (mango powder) powder
1 chopped tomato
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
Salt according to taste

To be ground into a paste:
6 cloves garlic
6 green chilies
1/2 tsp. ginger

1.Cook the dal separately with 2 cups of water.
2.Heat the Ghee(clarified butter) in a pan, add the onion and cumin seeds and fry for at least 2 minutes.
3.Add the cooked dal, the greens, amchur (mango powder) powder, tomato, turmeric powder, chili powder, paste and salt and cook for a few minutes.
4.Serve hot.

This article copyright to Indian Foods Company, authored by Kavita Mehta, was originally published in




Buy Visitor's Travel Insurance
Get A Quote


GaramChai © 1999-2010 || Terms of Use