Daal used to be pretty easy to cook. Well meaning mothers would measure and lay out the daal that needed cooking and it’d be pretty easy to do a good job with that. But moving out and setting up a kitchen also means shopping for and cooking your own daal. Identifying the right the daal by its correct name so you can cook it the right way can be a bit of a challenge for some people. We’ve formulated a little guide for decoding daals that has really helped us and we sure hope it helps those of you that still struggle with daals.
1. Moong dal: There are three types of Moong. Whole green moong, which can be sprouted and used in salads or even cooked as a tasty sabzi. The whole moon is used to make a thick, wholesome daal amongst the Malayalis. The second one is a split green moong and the third type is a washed and skinned bean – small, yellow and oval shaped. All three types, especially the yellow moong are quick to cook and easy to digest.
2. Toor dal: Toor, Toovar or Arhar are actually all the same. It is a yellow daal and easilyconfuses with Chana daal. Toor daal is a flatter and smaller daal and also a paler yellow. This is a staple daal for Maharashtrians. A tadka that works really well with Toor daal is a few Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds, slivers of Garlic and the ingredient that really makes this daal, fresh Coriander leaves, finely chopped. The combined flavors from the garlic and coriander leaves is brilliant.
3. Masoor dal: There are generally two types of Masoor daal. A dark brown lentil and a smaller, flatter lentil that is a bright orange color. Both types of Masoor Daal cook very quickly and can be quite seriously tasty. The darker Masoor sometimes tastes like a more luxurious daal even without the addition of ghee or malai. Simply cook the daal and temper with cumin, onions, ginger & garlic pastes, some tomato and a touch of garam masala along with haldi and mirchi powder. Be sure to brown those onions.
4. Urad: There are three types of Urad. Whole black urad daal, split black urad daal and the white urad. The whole black urad is shaped like the moong slightly oval but a rich deep black in colour.The whole urad dal combined with Rajma (Kidney Beans) makes for a delicious daal with complex textures. The split black urad, is a two colored dal a black skin on one side and white on the other side. The white urad is small and oval with a rich creamy white color and is usually used for Dosa, Idli and Dahi Vada batter. Most Urad daal recipes need about an hour of soaking at the least. Urad daal is the main ingredient in the famous Maa Ki Daal, also known as Daal Makhni.