Tips Of The Month-Nov 2008

An Ancient Jewel --Dals /Lentils

There are over 1000 legumes species. Pulses and legumes are in the class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Beans and Lentils have been found in 5,000 year old settlements in the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, in Egyptian pyramids, Hungarian caves, Britain and Switzerland, in even earlier civilizations like Peruvian Indians, Middle Eastern and East Indian civilizations. Beans and Lentils are thought to have originated from the wild lentils that still grow in India, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.

Even now peas, chickpeas and lentils are produced and consumed mainly in Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and the Middle East but because of the interest in international cuisine, healthier diets and the desire to use herbs, spices and seasonings and low amounts of fat there is a new interest in beans and lentils.

The use of lentils all over the world is growing as people get more interested in low fat diets, international cuisine, use of more herbs, spices, seasonings and in environmentally good foods. Most dals do not need soaking. They may be boiled with turmeric and ginger and then seasoned with sautéed onion and tomatoes. Roasted or oil sizzled cumin seeds adds an extra dimension to dals and aids in digestion of dals.

Tempering Dal
The tempering, or seasoning, is what makes the dal come alive. Turmeric gives dal the lovely golden hue. Dal is fat free and nature has designed it to absorb various combinations of seasonings and spices. There are innumerable variations of the simple seasoning and one can create their own individual taste. The standard ingredients include mustard seeds, jeers/cumin seeds, red chilies or chili powder, hing/asafetida, onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, garam masala, curry leaves. The fat of choice is ghee in the dal. Oil brings in a acidic after taste but if one is a vegan we suggest sunflower oil. seasonings are enhances in the ghee medium pushing their curative properties higher. Dals are commonly garnished with fresh chopped coriander and served hot.

Toor dal

'Toor dal (called toor dal (Marathi),tuvar dal (Gujarati), kandi pappu (Telugu), tuvara parippu (Malayalam) or tuvaram paruppu in (Tamil)) - yellow pigeon peas; available either plain or oily.

Toor dal is the most widely used dal in many of Indian cuisines. This slightly sweet, nutty flavored lentil is highly digestible. This South Indian staple is included in sambar and rasam soup. This variety is oiled to preserve its freshness and tastes the same as the unoily version..Toor dal also is cultivated in other parts like in Malawi in Indonesia which is widely found in Malaysia beside toor dal from India.

Chana dal/kadala/ similar to Australian dal/kacang kuda

Chana dal is produced by removing the skin of Kala chana and then splitting it. 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.

Its pale-yellow color has a sweet, nutty aroma. Chana dal has a very high nutritious value. It is praised by diabetics for its incredibly low index on the glycemic index. (The glycemic index measures the effect of foods on blood sugar levels.) Bengal gram is often stewed with vegetables, especially bitter gourds and squashes.

In Malaysia, the dal curry that comes with roti canai/prata is cooked with this dal.Unless if you are served with sambar,which is cooked with toor dal.

Mung dal (pesara pappu (Telugu) or paasi paruppu (Tamil)) , kacang hijau tanpa kulit, green bean without skin.

This is mung/moong split without shells/skin. This yellow dal doesn't need to be soaked and are easy to cook and digest. These beans can also be boiled and mashed in soups, stews, and sauces.
Try soaking the dal overnight, then grounding it with water to make pancake and fritter batters. Or simply, after soaking, they can be drained and fryed and added to crunchy, spicy snacks.
It is also used as a filling for kuih angku in nyonya kuih.Sometimes you can find Moong split with shells which are called chilke moong. They are mainly used in curries and chutneys.

In Ayurveda, split moong dal is recommended for children, elderly people and convalescents as it is easily digested.

Urad dal or minapa or uddhi pappu Telugu ,ulutham paruppu (Tamil), kacang dal hitam- urad, sometimes referred to as black gram .

It is very nutritious and is recommended for diabetics, as are other pulses. 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.

There is whole urad lentils without the black skin. It is often called whole white urad. They are most popular in South India where they are ground and mixed with flours to make breads, dosa (crepes), idlis (steamed cakes) and sweets. Because they cook quickly, no soaking is required.

Urad Split

This is urad split with shells . This lentil also gives any curry a thick and creamy texture. Split urad is well known for being added to rice and vegetable dishes. Though washing is needed, no soaking is required.

Masoor dal – red/orange lentils

These skinless, pink lentils are small and round. These fast-cooking lentils don't need to be soaked. They are often cooked, mashed and added to curries and soups.
Masoor is a very versatile lentil.
Orange/Split Red lentils can be cooked without soaking, although, soaking speeds the cooking process. Lentils are used to make soups, stews, bakes, sauces for pasta and salads and in India, they are made into spicy dals. They make a good replacement for minced meat in recipes.