Lentils in some form will feature more or less at every meal in an Indian home, vegetarian or not. It is as staple and prevalent as rice or bread. There are too many ways to prepare plain lentils called dhal, you may mix them in several other preparations, such as saambar, rasam, or vegetable dishes. They go well with just about anything. They range in taste based on what spices are used to embellish them. Lentils are loaded with proteins. They can be added to any soup or stew to give them richness, thicker consistency, and taste. They absorb flavors quite easily adding richness and zest to your daily meals. Check out some lentil recipes here.

On this site, I talk about the most commonly used lentils and their preparations. Below is a list of the types of lentils used in Indian vegetarian cooking. I have used below the Hindi name in bold and the Tamil translation within parenthesis. 'Paruppu' means dhal.

Chana Dhal (Kadali Paruppu)
The words "chana dal" mean "split chickpeas." (Chana gram is a whole chickpea). Chana dhal are baby chickpeas that have been split and polished. They are yellow in color. They look and taste like small kernels of sweet corn. Chana dal is a very versatile dried split yellow lentil with a slightly sweet taste, nutty flavor. It is used in making appetizers mixed with spices or, in a dry form or, any which way you'd like. They take a good bit of time to cook.

Toor Dhal (Tuvaram Paruppu)
Toor Dhal is similar to Chana dhal and look slightly slimmer. They take a little longer to cook than moong or masoor dal/dahl but a shorter time than Chana. They can cooked as a dhal dish with spices, mixed with other lentils. Toor dhal is generally used to make Sambaar and Rasam.

Urad Dhal (Ullutham Paruppu)
Is also called Black Beluga Lentils. These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors. Whole urad dal/dahl derive their strong, rich, earthy flavor from the black skins. They are used mostly in making dishes such as vada, idli and dosa. A spoon or so of toasted ural is also used as a final garnish in some dishes.

Mung Dal (Payatham Paruppu)
This variety is most commony used in dhals and southern Indian vegetable dishes with gravy. It is a tiny yellow bean, cooks rather quickly and digests easily as well.

Masoor Dal (A red variety of Payatham Paruppu)
They have an earthy flavor and a creamy texture. These lentils go well with tomatoes and can be incorporated into soups, stews, salads and Indian dal.

^ Please contact me for any of these ingredients or utensils.

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