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What is dal?

Dal comes from the Sanskrit word to split. Indians use the word dal to refer to dozens of varieties of dried split peas, beans, lentils and other pulses (meaning the dried seed of legumes such as lentils, beans and peas). Dal is the name of spicy, aromatic side dishes made with curry, onions, tomatoes and seasonings which are generally eaten with rice or bread and a dairy like yogurt to provide non-meat protein.

Dal is an everyday dish in India. Indian Masoor dal is made with salmon-colored, round, delicately flavored split lentils that turn a mellow shade of yellow when cooked. Moong dal (or mung daal) is a hulled, split version of the mung bean that is used to make bean sprouts and is very popular in North India. Chana dal is similar to split yellow peas, but has a sweeter, meatier taste, and can be found in Indian and Pakistani markets. Dal can also be soaked and ground to make the fritters or pancakes called dosas.

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