What is Dal?
Dal is a popular dish in many parts of South Asia like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is made of lentils, peas, or beans which are often split, dried and stripped of their hulls. They are usually eaten with rice as a side dish or as part of other dishes.
Dal may be prepared in different versions. Some have it prepared like a sticky paste while others prefer having it as a soup. Dals may also be prepared split or whole, with husks or without. One of the most popular varieties is “Massoor dal”. This refers to red lentils that are split and used commonly in soups. Some also use it in puree form to be paired with breads.
Another type is called “Channa” or “Chana” dal which is made with yellow peas or baby and black chickpeas. In this type of dal, the kernel is split. Traditionally, people soak the chickpeas for easy removal of the outer layers or skin. But machines are now available in removing the skins and splitting the kernels. This type of dal is famous in India because it is considered a meaty variety.
Other varieties of dal are “Toor dal” which uses yellow pigeon peas and commonly used on a recipe called Sambar, “Moong dal” which uses mung beans, ‘Yellow moong dal” which has a lighter texture than that of moong dals and uses split mung beans, and “Lobya Dal” in which black eyed beans are used. “Lobya Dal” is said to be best served with rice.
Dals or split peas and lentils are available in some supermarkets. Most dals available in stores may require some soaking though to remove the outer hulls or coverings. Some vendors also put castor oil on the beans to keep them from further drying. So one must have the beans rinsed before preparing them as a dish.