by Kate Heyhoe
- Always sort through dried dal before cooking to remove any stones or debris. Rinse the dal before cooking or toast the dal if required, then rinse.
- As a general rule, whole beans require soaking for 2 hours, or boil them in water for 2 minutes and then let soak in the water for 1 hour.
- Cooking times vary according to freshness; fresher pulses take less time.
- Leave the lid slightly ajar, as a thick foam develops while cooking and can cause a sealed pot to boil over.
- To make the pulses more digestible, always cook them thoroughly. Ginger, turmeric, and asafoetida help reduce flatulence.
Most frequently used Indian pulses:
- Channa or chana dal, or gram lentils—yellow split peas; slightly larger than yellow lentils; flavorful, nutty, sweet; do not require soaking.
- Kabuli channa—white chickpeas; nutty, creamy, absorb other flavors well; soak to reduce cooking time.
- Kala channa—black chickpeas (actually dark brown); earthy, nutty flavor.
- Masoor dal—called red lentils, actually more orange in color when split, but dark brown to greenish black when whole; split ones are fast cooking, nutty, fresh tasting; whole ones are chewier and muskier; do not require soaking.
- Moong dal—mung beans (the same kind used for common Asian bean sprouts); whole ones are olive green, musky, and require soaking; split, skinned mung beans are yellow, easy to digest, flavorful and need no soaking; split, unskinned mung beans are a paler green than whole ones and can be cooked without soaking but will take longer.
- Urad dal—black lentils or black gram; become white when split and skinned, or dark green/gray when split but not skinned; whole ones have a strong, musky taste, split ones are milder; when cooked, release a substance that makes the dish thick and creamy; do not require soaking, but whole ones will cook cook more quickly if soaked.
- Toor dal—yellow lentils; easily digested, nutty, pleasant and subtle; do not require soaking; besides their use as a side dish or main course, they are often ground into flour for bread, puréed into batter for pancakes, or used in desserts.
- Other common dal: lima beans, dried green peas, black-eyed peas.
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Copyright © 2000, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created March 2000