Urad dal is a traditional instance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Urad dal with pores and skin is black lentils and the skinned selection, white lentils. When dry-roasted and coarsely floor, it provides an addictive crunchy texture to molagapodi (the lentil and spice powder had with idlis and dosas). When soaked and floor to a paste with water, it’s edible slime. Entire urad dal with pores and skin makes the enduring black dal/kaali dal (maa ki dal / dal makhani) whereas the skinned urad dal makes white idlis.

This lentil is obtainable in 4 varieties—complete with pores and skin, complete with out pores and skin, cut up with pores and skin and cut up with out pores and skin. I can think about the confusion it’d trigger for somebody who’s new to Indian cooking.

Within the preparation of idli and dosa batter, the entire urad with out pores and skin is most popular. It performs an important function in a correctly fermented idli or dosa batter. A great way to test for good high quality urad dal is to soak a small handful in a cup of water. If the dal is contemporary, inside half an hour you will note bubbles on the floor of the water. Recent lentils have extra micro organism on the floor than aged ones; these are very important for the fermentation course of. In bread-making, the gluten community shaped on kneading and shaping the dough makes an internet through which the carbon dioxide will get trapped, giving the bread its form and texture. Within the absence of gluten in idli batter, I might suppose it’s the mucilaginous high quality of the urad dal paste that offers it the means to seize the carbon dioxide and provides it a spongy texture on steaming, with out leavening brokers.

Additionally learn: How fermentation saved human diets

In Tamil delicacies, complete black urad dal (karuppu ulunthu) is used to make fairly a number of dishes; idli, porridge (kanji), a candy dish utilizing jaggery known as kali, vada, chutney together with shallots, and laddoos, to call some. The recipe shared beneath is one in all a molagapodi that makes use of black urad dal.

The skinned urad dal is a pantry staple used to organize the holy tiffin trinity of idli, dosa and vada. The cut up selection is a primary ingredient used together with mustard seeds and dried pink chillies. It’s virtually as if urad dal is used for each form of dish however dal itself in Tamil cooking.

In different Indian cuisines nonetheless, there are two dal preparations of observe produced from urad dal. One which wants no introduction is maa ki dal from Punjabi delicacies, with black urad dal being cooked together with a small amount of rajma (pink kidney beans), tomato puree and many butter. The opposite one in all probability wants an introduction. Biulir dal from West Bengal is unusually flavoured with ginger and fennel seed paste. My good friend Anindya Basu, a meals blogger and photographer, says that if he has biulir dal and alu posto (potatoes with poppy seed paste), he doesn’t want non-vegetarian meals. Now that may be a compelling suggestion.

Additionally learn: Is besan the last word tremendous flour?


Makes a jar-full


2 tsp gingelly oil (or coconut oil)

10-12 dried pink chillies

1 cup black urad dal (complete or cut up)

Quarter cup tur dal

Quarter cup chana dal

Quarter cup sesame seeds (mixture of black and white)

One-and-a-half tsp salt


Warmth the oil in a heavy pan. Fry the dried pink chillies on medium flame till they flip a darker shade of pink, and crisp. Take away on to a plate. In the identical pan, add all of the dals. Stir constantly on a medium flame for six-seven minutes till the tur dal and chana dal flip golden brown.

Add the sesame seeds to the dals and stir till they begin popping. Take away all of the components to a dish to chill.

As soon as cooled, add the chillies, dals and sesame seeds to a mixer jar together with the salt and grind to a high-quality or coarse powder as per your choice.

Save in an hermetic container.

This may be mixed with gingelly oil or ghee to be served together with idli or dosa.


Photo by Nandita Iyer.

Picture by Nandita Iyer.

Serves 4


1 cup urad dal (cut up, skinned)

One-and-a-half tsp salt, divided

2 bay leaves

2 tsp fennel seeds

One-and-a-half-inch piece contemporary ginger, thinly sliced

1 tbsp mustard oil

A pinch of asafoetida

2 dried pink chillies, damaged into halves

2 inexperienced chillies, slit


In a heavy-bottom pan, dry-roast the dal on medium flame for five-six minutes till frivolously golden brown and fragrant. This improves the flavour of the dal and reduces the sliminess within the cooked dal.

Instantly wash the roasted dal two-three occasions and drain nicely.

Switch the roasted dal to a strain cooker. Add two-and-a-half cups water, 1 tsp salt and bay leaves. After one whistle (cooker reaching full strain), cut back warmth to minimal and prepare dinner for an additional eight minutes. The dal ought to be cooked however retain some texture.

In a small mixer jar, make a paste of fennel seeds and ginger utilizing 2-3 tbsp of water. Preserve apart.

In a pan, warmth the oil. Fry the pink chillies for a number of seconds. Stir within the asafoetida. To this, add the ready paste and fry on medium warmth for two-three minutes till the oil separates out. Stir within the slit inexperienced chillies.

Add the cooked dal together with the remaining salt to the pan. Add half-cup water if the dal may be very dry. Permit this to come back to a boil and simmer for four-five minutes. The consistency ought to neither be watery nor gluggy. Serve scorching with rice and alu posto.

Double Examined is a fortnightly column on vegetarian cooking, highlighting a single ingredient ready two methods. Nandita Iyer’s newest guide, On a regular basis Superfoods, launched on 18 March. @saffrontrail


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