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Vigna mungo, known as Urad Dal, black gram, black lentil (not to be confused with the much smaller true black lentil (Lens culinaris)), white lentil, black matpe bean, is a bean grown in the Indian subcontinent. It, along with the mung bean, was placed in Phaseolus, but has since been transferred to Vigna. At one time it was considered to belong to the same species as the mung bean. The product sold as "black lentil" is usually the whole urad bean or urad dal. The product sold as "white lentil" is the same lentil with the black skin removed.
Black gram originated in India, where it has been in cultivation from ancient times and is one of the most highly prized pulses of India and Pakistan. The coastal Andhra region in Andhra Pradesh is famous for black gram after paddy. The Guntur District ranks first in Andhra Pradesh for the production of black gram. Black gram has also been introduced to other tropical areas mainly by Indian immigrants.
It is an erect, suberect or trailing, densely hairy, annual herb. The tap root produces a branched root system with smooth, rounded nodules. The pods are narrow, cylindrical and up to six cm long. The plant grows 30–100 cm with large hairy leaves and 4–6 cm seed pods.
Vigna mungo is popular in India, largely used to make dal from the whole or split, dehusked seeds. The bean is boiled and eaten whole or, after splitting, made into dal; prepared like this it has an unusual mucilaginous texture. It is also extensively used in South Indian culinary preparations. Urad Dal is one of the key ingredient in making the Idli-Dosa batter, where one part of Urad Dal is mixed with Three or Four parts of Idli Rice to make the batter. Also the dough for Vada or Udid Vada is made from soaked batter and deep fried in cooking oil. The dough is also used in making Paapad, notably the South Indian version known as Appalam and Papadum, in which white lentils are usually used.
It is nutritious and is recommended for diabetics, as are other pulses. It is very popular in the Punjabi cuisine, as an ingredient of dal makhani. In Bengal it is made as a preparation called Biulir Dal. In Rajasthan, It is used to prepare dal which is especially consumed with "Bati".
Black gram is very nutritious as it contains high levels of protein (25g/100g), potassium (983 mg/100g), calcium (138 mg/100g), iron (7.57 mg/100g), niacin (1.447 mg/100g), Thiamine (0.273 mg/100g), and riboflavin (0.254 mg/100g). Black gram compliments the essential amino acids provided in most cereals and plays an important role in the diets of the people of Nepal and India.
It has been historically used as cementing agent along with other ingredients in the construction of several historic buildings.
Use in medieval crucible construction
In medieval times, this bean was used in making crucibles impermeable.
In Hindi it is variously called urad, urad dal, udad dal, urd bean, urd, urid, maash (in Nepali), or උඳු (Sinhala), đậu muồng ăn (Vietnamese). It is known as uzhunu (ഉഴുന്ന്) in Malayalam, minumulu (మినుములు) in Telugu, uddina bele (ಉದ್ದಿನ ಬೇಳೆ) in Kannada, urdu bele in Tulu, ulunthu (உளுந்து) in Tamil, adad (અળદ) in Gujarati, biri dali in Oriya, and māsakālā'i dāla (মাসকালাই ডাল) in Bengali.
- "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Post Harvest Profile of Black Gram". Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture. 2006.
- "Mungo beans, mature seeds, raw". USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. US Department of Agriculture.
- Vijaya J. Deshpande. "Musavijnana or the ancient science of crucibles". Indian National Science Academy.
- H.K. Bakhru (1997). Foods that Heal. The Natural Way to Good Health. Orient Paperbacks. ISBN 81-222-0033-8.
- M. Nitin, S. Ifthekar, M. Mumtaz. 2012. Hepatoprotective activity of Methanolic extract of blackgram. RGUHS J Pharm Sci 2(2):62-67.