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Dal or Parippu (also spelled dahl, dhal, or daal) (Nepaliदाल daal Hindi दाल dāl, Bengali ডাল dāl, Kannada ಬೇಳೆ bēḷe, Malayalam പരിപ്പ് parippu, Marathi डाळ ḍāḷ, Tamil பருப்பு paruppu, Telugu పప్పు pappu, dāl, Urdu دال) is a preparation of pulses (dried beans, lentils etc.) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick, spicy stew prepared therefrom, a mainstay of Nepali, Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine. It is regularly eaten with rice and vegetables in Southern India, and with both rice and roti (wheat-based flat bread) throughout Northern India & Pakistan. Dal is a mainstay in South Asian vegetarian cooking, since it provides the requisite proteins for a balanced diet. Sri Lankan cooking of dal resembles that of southern Indian dishes.
In South India, dal is primarily used to make the dish called sambar. The word dāl derives from the Sanskrit verbal root dal- 'to split'. Sambar is a spicy soup of toor dal and vegetables and is cooked with tamarind (high in iron), turmeric (natural antiseptic to prevent stomach irritation), asafoetida (anti-gas) and some vegetable. The choice of vegetables affects the taste of the dal. It is eaten with rice and rice dishes.
- Toor dal (called तूर डाळ tūr ḍāḷ in Marathi; tuvar dal in Gujarati; अरहर दाल arhar dāl or तुवर दाल tuvar dāl in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, and Bengal; ತೊಗರಿ ಬೀಳೆ togari bele in Kannada; కంది పప్పు kandi pappu in Telugu, തുവര പരിപ്പ് tuvara parippu in Malayalam; and துவரம் பருப்பு tuvaram paruppu in Tamil) - yellow pigeon peas; available either plain or oily
- Chana dal - (ছোলার ডাল (chholar dal) in Bengali, buta daali in Oriya, శనగ పప్పు shanaga pappu in Telugu, ಕಡಲೆ ಬೀಳೆ kadale bele in Kannada, and கடலை பருப்பு kaḍalai paruppu in Tamil) - split chickpeas without seedcoat. Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel. Although machines can do this, it can be done at home by soaking the whole chickpeas and removing the loose skins by placing the chickpeas between two towels and rubbing with a rolling pin.
- Yellow split peas - While not commonly used on the Indian sub-continent it is very prevalent in the Indian communities of Guyana and Trinidad. There, it is referred to generically as dhal and is the most popular dhal, although masoor dhal and toor dhal are also used. It is prepared similarly to dhals found in India but also may be used in a variety of other recipes.
- Kala chana - small chickpeas with brown skins - கொண்டைக் கடலை koṇḍai kaḍalai in Tamil. In the US and Canada it is known as desi chickpea and the variety most used is called Myles. It is very disease resistant.
- Kabuli dal - known for its black coat, it is an average size chickpea. It grows naturally with the black coat (not roasted as some believe), and it is said to be nuttier in flavor.
- Mung dal (pesara pappu in పెసర పప్పు Telugu, பயறு payaru or பாசிப் பருப்பு pāsi paruppu in Tamil), ಹೆಸರು ಬೀಳೆ hesaru bele in Kannada) - mung bean
- Urad dal (उड़द दाल uṛad dāl in Hindi; ماش māsh in Urdu and Panjabi; kolai dal in Bengali; biri daali in Oriya; మినుములు minumulu, మినప పప్పు minapa pappu, or ఉద్ది పప్పు uddhi pappu in Telugu); உளுத்தம் பருப்பு uḷuttam paruppu in Tamil; and ಉದ್ದಿನ ಬೀಳೆ uddina bele in Kannada). Urad bean, sometimes referred to as "black gram"
- Masoor dal - red lentils
- Rajma dal - kidney beans
- Mussyang - dals of various color that are found in various hilly regions of Nepal.
Split and whole pulses
Although dal generally refers to split pulses, whole pulses are known as sabūt dals and split pulses as dhuli dals. The hulling of a pulse is intended to improve digestibility and palatability, but as with milling of whole grains into refined grains, affects the nutrition provided by the dish, reducing dietary fiber content. Pulses with their outer hull intact are also quite popular in India and Pakistan as the main cuisine. Over 50 different varieties of pulses are known in India and Pakistan.
Most dal recipes are quite simple to prepare. The standard preparation of dal begins with boiling a variety of dal (or a mix) in water with some turmeric, salting to taste, and then adding a tadka (also known as tarka, chaunk or baghaar) at the end of the cooking process.
Tadka or tarka (also known as chaunk or baghar) consists of various spices or other flavorings fried in a small amount of oil. The ingredients in the tadka for each variety of dal vary by region and individual tastes, but common tadka combinations include cumin, chilli powder [cayenne powder], and onion or mustard seeds and garlic. In some recipes, ginger, tamarind, unripe mango, purslane, or other ingredients are added while cooking the dal, often to impart a sour flavor. Some preparations also call for mashing the cooked dal a bit with a hand masher or suitable rolling pin.
Other common tadka ingredients include asafoetida, fresh or dried chili pods, cilantro and garam masala. The raw spices are fried for a few seconds in the hot oil first, and then the remaining ingredients are added. The garlic is typically only fried for a minute or two, but the onion is fried for 10 minutes or until browned. The tadka, or spice-infused oil, is poured over the cooked dal and served with bread or over Basmati rice.
All of the pulses listed above can be used with this method to make the variety of different dals eaten across the region.
The word dal can at times be used in a disparaging fashion as some use the label "Dal Khor" (literally dal eater in Persian) in a belittling manner toward Pakistanis or those from the Indian Subcontinent. Some Pakistanis living in rural areas have been nicknamed dal khor seemingly more often than those living in the urban cities given the popularity of vegetarianism in the countryside.
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- Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary accessed online 2007-09-02
- Mehta N. (2006), p12
- Mehta N. (2006)
- Dangerous Harvest: Drug Plants and the Transformation of Indigenous Landscapes by Michael K. Steinberg, Joseph, pg. 135. Note: "A Pashtun will refer to a Punjabi in a derogatory manner by calling him a dal eater..."
- Across the Wagah: An Indian's Sojourn in Pakistan by Maneesha Tikekar, pg. 95