All about Daal

The word daal comes from the Sanskrit word ‘dal’ which means to split; daal is literally a legume that has been split in half. The soup-like dish is a great source of protein, complex carbohydrate, essential amino acids and dietary fiber. Also known as a lentil or pulse, daal can be cooked with or without the skin.Daal is an important part of an Indian meal as the main dish, as a side dish or simply served with rice or roti. It is very versatile; soaked, ground daal and daal flours are used for making dishes such as koftas, pakoras, dosas, and a variety of desserts. Cooking dried beans takes more time than using canned ones but the flavor and texture is so much better (compare the texture of garbanzo beans cooked at home with the canned ones and you will be hooked), and it costs less too! Soaking daals and beans overnight cuts down on the cooking time and makes them easier to digest by throwing away the soaking water. For a quick soak, wash the beans, put them in a pot, covering with 2 inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil, take off the stove, cover and set aside for about an hour. Drain and rinse again before cooking. Using a pressure cooker saves time and electricity. Cooking in a slow cooker is another good way to prepare beans. Cook more than the recipe calls for and use the extra beans in a different dish or freeze them for use later.Dried beans can be stored in an airtight jar on the shelf for more than a year.Whole beans can be sprouted to increase their nutritional value and make them easier to digest. After soaking the beans, I use a sprouter, available at Indian stores.
                                                      Sprouted Lentil, Black Chana and Moong

There are more than 50 kinds of daals but I have picked 20 of the most popular ones to show you. I have divided them into 3 groups, based on the cooking time and seasoning. Most daal recipes are quite simple to prepare, seasoned with just salt, turmeric and maybe asafoetida (hing). Sometimes “chhaunk,” “tadka,” or “tempering” is added just before serving, which requires whole spices, onion, garlic, tomato and/or ginger fried in ghee (clarified butter) or oil. Simply adding a little bit of ghee before serving enhances the flavor.
Please watch the video of daals at the top of this post.
The first group includes:
All varieties of Chick peas, Kidney, Adzuki and Soy beans, Black Eyed peas.
All the beans in this group can be cooked using my Chana Masala recipe. Because these are whole beans, they take longer to cook. However, if soaked in water overnight or 4-5 hours at room temperature, they will cook in about 30 minutes after coming to a boil. In a pressure cooker, it will take less than 10 minutes to cook soaked beans or 25-30 minutes for dried beans. These beans are heavily seasoned since they are served as the main dish and on special occasions.
The next group includes: Whole Moong, Urad, Yellow and Green Peas, Lentils and both split Peas and split Chana.

All the pulses in this group can be cooked using my Lentil or Masoor Daal recipe. Since these daals have a strong flavor, I use less seasoning, whole spices that can be taken out before serving.
The third group, also the most commonly cooked, includes the following daals: Split Moong and Urad with and without skin, Lentil without skin and Arhar or Toor daal.

All daals in this group can be cooked using my Arhar or Toor Daal recipe. These are daals that are cooked everyday, sometimes for lunch and dinner. They are usually accompanied by a few vegetables and/or meat and so are seasoned lightly. Adding a vegetable to the daal is also common such as Chana Daal with Squash, Urad/Moong Daal with Spinach. 

Copyright © Rashmi Rustagi 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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