What is dal?
(also dhal, daal)
1. A split pulse (ie lentil, bean, pea or other dried legume seed)
2. A stew, soup or similar dish made of pulses, split or whole
"Cooking dal is magical; a couple of handfuls of pulses cooked up with nothing more than water and a few spices delivers one of the most comforting, nutritious and economical dishes on earth."
There are countless classic dals from across the Indian subcontinent, often named for their main pulse ingredient, such as chana dal, meaning split black chickpeas. Other names describe other ingredients or characteristics of the dish, for example dal makhani or “buttery dal”. Cuisines around the world have similar traditional dishes, from the refried beans of Mexico and fava dips of Greece to Britain’s pease pudding and mushy peas.
Dictionary of dal
The naming of dal and pulses can be very confusing. English names are used very variously, with split yellow peas, split mung beans and split urad beans all different species of legume but all often described as lentils. Hindi names are generally much more precisely used.
Split black or desi variety chickpeas (Cicer aretinum). Other chickpea varieties are sometimes used and split yellow peas, which are very similar in appearance, are often substituted. Find recipes for chana dal...
chickpea (also garbanzo bean)
A pulse of the species Cicer aretinum with two principal varieties, the large and light kabuli and the small and dark desi or black chickpea.
mung dal (also moong dal)
Whole red kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
(also sabut mung, hare mung, hare moong)
Whole mung beans (Vigna radiata)
split fava beans
Split fava or faba beans (Vicia faba), smaller seeded varieties of the broad bean species, grown in the UK
split green peas
Split green or blue varieties of common pea (Pisum sativum), grown in the UK
split yellow peas
Split yellow varieties of common pea (Pisum sativum), grown in the UK
toor dal (also toovar dal)
Split urad beans (Vigna mungo)
Whole urad beans (Vigna mungo)
Split hyacinth beans (Lablab purpureus). Fava beans or butter beans are often substituted.