Indian Dals have become quite the hot commodity! I get asked all the time by my friends about the nutritional facts about dals (lentils) and why Indians eat it so much!
Rarely would you find an Indian household that doesn’t have dal in their pantry or cupboards because it is such a common staple in the Indian cuisine. In most households, dal is made on a daily basis, if not at least twice a week! Another reason Indians love their dals are the nutritional values they offer, as well as, a very, very good source for protein! Since most Indians are vegetarian, a lot of protein is not found in many vegetarian diets. It is very important to fit protein into your diet and dals are their primary source since they are very rich with proteins.
Dals come in a variety of colors and flavors. Each dal has their own nutritional values and delicious aroma. (Another reason why Indians love dals, there are many to pick from!) With the new trend of vegetarians going Vegan, Indians still don’t have to worry about giving up their #1 source of protein! Dals are all vegan friendly!
Mason Jars are a great way to store dals! They are airtight! Also, keep the dry dals away from moisture, soggy dal is not good!
Indian Dal Types:
Moong dal is yellow in color and are very small in size compared to most lentils. It’s one of the leading lentils in India. This is the most fed dal to those who are sick, especially those who are diabetic. Not only sick people, but pregnant women love this and eat this often. Because it helps with digestion, moong dal itself is easy to digest while at the same time providing you with so many nutrients the body needs!
Moong dal can come in two different ways – whole or cut. When the dal is whole, it takes on a olivey green color, while the split dal, is yellow. The green version is just as nutritious and a very good source of calcium.
Moong dal is a diet friendly dal as well. it is low in fat and cholesterol free! Moong dal is rich in protein, a great source of iron and plentiful in potassium. There is no short of the B complex as well!
Chana dal, also called Bengal Gram Dal, is another very rich source of protein. This is one of hte most popular dals in India. It is used in many Indian delicacies, not just in the form of a dal, but ground up and used like flour. Chana dal and moong dal are the richest in proteins of all the dals. Other nutrients and minerals that Chana dal is rich in are manganese and copper. It is high in fiber and an excellent source of calcium, folate, and zinc. Those who have diabetes or need to lower their cholesterol may also chose to eat this dal.
This dal is red-orange in color and is good dal to make if you want to make something quick (cooks fast). Once you cook masoor dal, don’t get confused, it is supposed to turn a golden color! When I made the dal for the first time, I had to call my mom and ask if that is what is supposed to happen!
This is great for people who are suffering bile reflux. Masoor dal also helps to improve circulation in the body. It contains dietary fibers, folate, vitamin B1, potassium, iron, and is very low in fat.
Urad dal is split black lentils (Split Urad is Ivory in color and the whole version is black – Ebony and Ivory – my little joke of the day!) This dal is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron and other vitamins and minerals. If you are looking for a dal with a lot of protein, urad is not as big a source as chana or moong. If you are looking for variety, this dal is one of the most flavorful choices. This dal provides those good fats and carbohydrates for the body.
Tuvar Dal (Toor):
Tuvar dal also known as toor dal, tur dal, or arhar dal, is the last yellow dal on this list! The english name for this dal is pigeon pea and the Jamaican name for it is gungo pea (random, I know). Toor dal is one of the most popular dals eaten in India. It has a nutty, yet slightly sweet flavor. Any flavor or spice paired with this dal is absorbed quickly. this dal is another dal that helps with digestion, as well as, acidity and other stomach pains. Tuvar dal has immense amounts of complex dietary fibres that helps to regularise bowel movements.
Toor dal is one of the most popular dals eaten in India. This dal has immense amounts of complex dietary fibres that helps to regularise bowel movements.
Lobia dal, also known as black eyed peas, are creamy colored lentil beans that have little black circles around the sprout area, hence, the “black eyed peas”. This dal is rich in proteins and in the mineral zinc. Lobia has many health benefits, one being that they help in the toning of the spleen and stomach. This is another dal those with diabetes love to eat.
If you choose to sprout the Dals:
All whole dals can be soaked in a bowl of water over night, near the kitchen window, and sprouted. The most common dal to sprout is the whole moong dal (green). They are very tasty in Indian treats we call Chaat! (I will introduce these delicious treats to you soon enough!) Sprouted dals are nutritious as well, very rich in enzymes and dietary fibers that help with constipation.