A Guide to Indian Dals


Indian cuisine is rich with dal consumption. Every Indian household stock up different type of dals. From normal day to day routine or a lavish party dals are everywhere in various forms in different style of cooking. Every dals has a one or many nutritional values. The common nutritional ingredient in every dal is proteins.


Rarely would you find an Indian household that doesn’t have dal in their pantry or cupboards because it is such a common staple in the Indian cuisine. In most households, dal is made on a daily basis, if not at least twice a week! Another reason Indians love their dals are the nutritional values they offer, as well as, a very, very good source for protein! Since most Indians are vegetarian, a lot of protein is not found in many vegetarian diets. It is very important to fit protein into your diet and dals are their primary source since they are very rich with proteins.

Dals come in a variety of colors and flavors. Each dal has their own nutritional values and delicious aroma. (Another reason why Indians love dals, there are many to pick from!) With the new trend of vegetarians going Vegan, Indians still don’t have to worry about giving up their #1 source of protein! Dals are all vegan friendly!

Moong Dal

1. Moong Dal

Mung beans (also known as green gram, Hindi: moong, Gujarati: mug), are little green seeds that are yellow inside. They have been eaten by Indians for thousands of years. Mung beans are used for both sweet and savory dishes in Indian cooking. They are eaten whole, sprouted, split with the skins on and split with the skins removed. In fact, mung dal (split with the skins removed) is one of the most commonly used lentils in my kitchen.Moong dal is a dieter friendly dal. This type of dal has minimal calorie and is a rich source of iron and potassium.

Moong dal is yellow in color and are very small in size compared to most lentils. It’s one of the leading lentils in India. This is the most fed dal to those who are sick, especially those who are diabetic. Not only sick people, but pregnant women love this and eat this often. Because it helps with digestion, moong dal itself is easy to digest while at the same time providing you with so many nutrients the body needs!

Moong dal can come in two different ways – whole or cut. When the dal is whole, it takes on a olivey green color, while the split dal, is yellow. The green version is just as nutritious and a very good source of calcium.  Moong dal is a diet friendly dal as well. it is low in fat and cholesterol free! Moong dal is rich in protein, a great source of iron and plentiful in potassium. There is no short of the B complex as well!

English: Green Gram – Whole
Marathi: Mung
Bengali: Mug
Gujarati: Mug
Punjabi: Moongi
Kashmiri: Muang
Oriya: Muga
Tamil: Pasipayir
Malayalam: Cheru Pararu
Telugu: Pesalu
Kannada: Hesare kalu

Urad Dal

2. Urad Dal

Urad dal is split black lentils (Split Urad is Ivory in color and the whole version is black – Ebony and Ivory – my little joke of the day!) This dal is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron and other vitamins and minerals. If you are looking for a dal with a lot of protein, urad is not as big a source as chana or moong. If you are looking for variety, this dal is one of the most flavorful choices. This dal provides those good fats and carbohydrates for the body. grain_urad_dal

Urad (also known as black gram, black lentil, Hindi: urad, Gujarati: adad), is a little black seed with a white interior. It is very similar to a mung bean in size and shape but tastes entirely different. It has also been eaten in India for thousands of years and is highly prized. Urad has an earthy flavor and an unusual mucousy texture (it’s a good thing!) when it’s cooked. The popular, and amazing, dal makhani is made with urad. Papad (or poppadums) are usually made with urad dal as well.

English: Black Gram
Urad dal
Marathi: Uddachi dal
Bengali: Mashkalair dal
Gujarati: Aalad
Punjabi: Mah-di-dal
Kashmiri: Kaha
Oriya: Biri
Tamil: Ulutham paruppu
Malayalam: Uzhunnu parippu
Telugu: Minapa pappu
Kannada: Uddina bele

Chana Dal

3. Chana Dal

Chana dal, also called Bengal Gram Dal, is another very rich source of protein. This is one of hte most popular dals in India. It is used in many Indian delicacies, not just in the form of a dal, but ground up and used like flour. Chana dal and moong dal are the richest in proteins of all the dals. Other nutrients and minerals that Chana dal is rich in are manganese and copper. It is high in fiber and an excellent source of calcium, folate, and zinc. Those who have diabetes or need to lower their cholesterol may also chose to eat this dal.


Garbanzo Beans (also known as chickpea, Bengal gram, Hindi: channa, Gujarati: channa). Garbanzo beans are found in two forms, the smaller dark skinned beans known as desi channa and the larger white skinned beans known as Kabuli channa. Garbanzo beans are commonly eaten in India in as whole beans, as split lentils and a multitude of dishes are also made with garbanzo bean flour (known as besan). Channa Masala is the most popular dish made with Kabuli channa. Channa are slightly nutty in taste. The brown ones are earthier in flavor and tend have a drier texture. Chana dal or Bengal gram dal is one of the richest vegan source of dietary proteins. It is also rich in trace minerals like copper, manganese etc. Having this dal helps keep diabetes at bay.

English: Bengal Gram Split
Marathi: Harbara dal
Bengali: Cholar dal
Kashmiri: Chola dal
Tamil: Kadalai Parappu
Malayalam: Samaga pappu
Telugu: Samaga pappu
Kannada: Kadale bele

Masoor Dal

4. Masoor Dal

This dal is red-orange in color and is good dal to make if you want to make something quick (cooks fast). Once you cook masoor dal, don’t get confused, it is supposed to turn a golden color! When I made the dal for the first time, I had to call my mom and ask if that is what is supposed to happen!


Masoor (also known as red lentil, Hindi: masoor, Gujarati: masoor) is a brown skinned lentil that is orange on the inside. Masoor dal has a pleasant earthy flavor and is very common in Northern India. It is commonly used to make dal, soups and stews. This is great for people who are suffering bile reflux. Masoor dal also helps to improve circulation in the body. It contains dietary fibers, folate, vitamin B1, potassium, iron, and is very low in fat.

English: Split Red Gram
Hindi: Masur dalmasoor-dal-splits

Marathi: Masur dal
Bengali: Masoor
Gujarati: Masur dal
Kashmiri: Musur
Oriya: Masura
Tamil: Masur paruppu
Malayalam: Masur parippu
Telugu: Misur pappu
Kannada: Masur bele

Toor Dal

5. Toor Dal

Tuvar dal also known as toor dal, tur dal, or arhar dal, is the last yellow dal on this list! The english name for this dal is pigeon pea and the Jamaican name for it is gungo pea (random, I know). Toor dal is one of the most popular dals eaten in India. It has a nutty, yet slightly sweet flavor. Any flavor or spice paired with this dal is absorbed quickly. this dal is another dal that helps with digestion, as well as, acidity and other stomach pains. Tuvar dal has immense amounts of complex dietary fibres that helps to regularise bowel movements.


Toor dal is one of the most popular dals eaten in India. This dal has immense amounts of complex dietary fibres that helps to regularise bowel movements. Pigeon Pea (also known as tropical green pea, Hindi: toor, Gujarati: tuver), is a beige lentil with a yellow interior. This is the most important pulse in a Gujarati household. The fresh peas are highly prized and used for curries and stuffing in spicy handpies. They have a delicious nutty flavor that is very distinctive. The dried and split peas are a staple in everyday cooking as well. The famous“Gujarati Dal” is made with this pea where the balance between spicy, sweet and sour is most important.

English: Split Yellow Gram / Pigeon Pea
Arhar dal
Marathi: Tur dal / Toor Dal
Bengali: Arhar dal
Gujarati: Tuver
Kashmiri: Arhar dal
Oriya: Harada
Tamil: Tuvaram paruppu
Malayalam: Tuvara parippu
Telugu: Kandi Pappu
Kannada: Thugare bele

Lobia Dal
Lobia Dal

6. Lobia Dal

Lobia dal, also known as black eyed peas, are creamy colored lentil beans that have little black circles around the sprout area, hence, the “black eyed peas”. This dal is rich in proteins and in the mineral zinc. Lobia has many health benefits, one being that they help in the toning of the spleen and stomach. This is another dal those with diabetes love to eat.

Lobia Dal
Lobia Dal

Black-eyed pea (also known as cow pea, Hindi: lobia, Gujarati: chora). Black-eyed peas have a distinctive flavor and are an all around pulse in Indian cuisine. They’re used to make curries, dals, papads and fritters. Lobiya dal or black eyed peas are rich in proteins and rich in an important trace mineral zinc. There are very few vegan sources of zinc that is essential for men.

English: Cowpea / Black Eyed Pea
Marathi: Chavli
Bengali: Barbati
Oriya: Chani
Tamil: Karamani
Malayalam: Payar
Telugu: Bobbarlu
Kannada: Alasande

Azuiki Beans
Chori Dal

7. Azuki Beans Dal

Azuki bean (also known as red cow pea, Hindi: chori, Gujarati: lal chora). Azuki beans have a sweet nutty flavor and are another all around pulse. They are used very much like black-eyed peas.


Red Chori :Also known as Adzuki (azuki) beans, red chori, and red cow peas.  Chori beans are sweet and relatively easy to digest and don’t take as long to cook. The adzuki is used in Asian cuisines in salads and even as a topping on shaved ice or ice cream.


8. Rajma

Kidney Bean (Hindi: rajma, Gujarati: rajma). Kidney beans have a strong earthy flavor and nice silky texture. They are made into a delicious curry simply called rajma. It is delicious eaten with rice. It is important to note that kidney beans can be toxic if not cooked properly. They must be pre-soaked and boiled for at least 30 minutes to ensure they are safe for eating. Do not cook them in the slow cooker because that multiplies their toxicity.


9. Peas

Pea (Hindi: matar, Gujarati: vatana). Although split peas are uncommon in Indian cuisine, whole dried peas have a mild earthy flavor and a hearty mouth feel and texture. They are used for one the most beloved street food stews called ragda.

English: Peas

Hindi: Katar
Marathi: Vatana
Bengali: Katar
Gujarati: Vatana
Kashmiri: Kara
Oriya: Matara
Punjabi: Kabli chole
Tamil: Pattani
Malayalam: Pattani
Telugu: Batani
Kannada: Batani

Kabooli Dal

10. Kabooli Dal

Kabooli dal is a special variety of pulses that helps to increase haemoglobin levels as it is rich in iron and folic acid.

Soya Dal
Soya Dal

11. Soya Dal

Soyabean dal is a new addition to the long list of dals. It contains high amounts of protein and essential Vitamin D for your bones.

Green Moong Dal
Green Moong Dal

12. Green Moong Dal

This is basically the green coloured moong dal that is not as common as the split variety. This type of dal has ample reserves of calcium and very little calories. This variety of pulses is good for your bones.

Green Sprouts
Green Sprouts

13. Green Sprouts

Sprouts can be any kind of dal that has been soaked in water and sprouted. These special types of dals are eaten raw or cooked as a side dish in India. They are rich in enzymes and the dietary fibres in them helps to avoid constipation.


14. Val Dal

English: Field Bean/ Broad Bean
Marathi: Valpapdi
Bengali: Sim
Gujarati: Valpapdi
Kashmiri: Moang
Oriya: Baragudi
Tamil: Mochai
Malayalam: Avara
Telugu: Chikkudu
Kannada: Avare


15. Kulthi Dal

English: Horse Gram

Hindi: Kulthi
Marathi: Kuleeth
Bengali: Kulthi-kalai
Gujarati: Kuleeth
Oriya: Kolatha
Tamil: Kollu
Malayalam: Muthira
Telugu: Ulavalu
Kannada: Hurule

All whole dals can be soaked in a bowl of water over night, near the kitchen window, and sprouted. The most common dal to sprout is the whole moong dal (green). They are very tasty in Indian treats we call Chaat! (I will introduce these delicious treats to you soon enough!) Sprouted dals are nutritious as well, very rich in enzymes and dietary fibers that help with constipation.



Ahar/Toor Dal: also known as yellow pigeon peas. For South Indian recipe it is the main ingredient known as sambhar. In Karnataka togari bele is the name for it. It is a good source of folic acid along with proteins, carbohydrates, and fibres. For pregnant women folic acid plays a vital role as it is essential for foetal development.

Chana Dal/Bengal Garam Dal: This dal is good for diabetics or those who are on weight loss diet. It has low GI (Glycemic Index) which controls the rise of sugar level. It is produced by removing the outer layer of kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel.

Kala Chana/Black Chickpea: are small chickpeas (brown skin). Chana is rich with proteins, fibre and complex carbohydrates with a mixture of vitamins and minerals. With low fat and zero cholesterol it add ups the chances of healthy heart. It contains potentially health-beneficial phytochemicals. With its rich vitamins and rich minerals this dal is disease resistant.

Kabuli dal/kabuli chana or chick pea: is known for black coat, an average-sized chickpea and grows naturally with the black coat, and it is nuttier in flavour.

Mung dal: it is easily digested and contains zero fats (saturated). It contains both water-soluble fibre and insoluble, both have varied benefits. Fibre scrubs your intestinal tract as it makes its way through your stomach. Water-soluble fibre reduces LDL cholesterol — the “lousy” cholesterol — and reduces risk for cardiovascular disease.

Lobiya Dal/black-eyed beans: It is an excellent source of fibre, folate and a good source of iron as well as important vitamins and minerals. It helps in toning of spleen and stomach plus high fibre content helps diabetes patients.

Urad Dal/black gram: A good source of iron and rich fibre content. In south used in dosa and idli. In East India (oriya and Bengali or Assamese) main ingredient of pitha. Dal makhani North Indians mouth-watering dish. In Karnataka, it is called uddina bele. Consuming urad dal regularly increases your energy significantly as it balance the body’s iron level. Good for women undergoing menstruation who have a higher chance of iron deficiency.

Masoor Dal/red lentils: This lentil is especially rich in molybdenum (antioxidant). This dal helps the body in breaking down harmful substances hence reducing allergy symptoms.


List of some common Pulses and Legumes and their equivalents/translations in Indian languages – Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Oriya,Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. 

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