Urad dal is a lentil grown and used in Southern Asia. It is also known by other names including- urad dal, udad dal, urd bean, urd, urid, black matpe bean, black gram, black lentil. Vigna mungo is the biological name for Urad dal. Urad dal is widely used in India to make dal or stew from whole or split hulled seeds.
History of Urad Dal
Urad dal or black gram originates from India. It has been cultivated since ancient times and is a highly valued pulse in India. Other tropical areas have also adopted the gram after being familiarized by Indian immigrants. In 13th century AD the great Hindu philosopher Shri Madhvacharya is believed to have introduced the dal as an offering in ceremonies in place of sacrificing animals.
Culinary Uses of Urad Dal
Urad dal comprises of a narrow cylindrical bean with a black skin. The bean can be boiled as a whole with skin or cooked after being skinned and split into dal. Urad dal recipes include soaked and ground the dal as a thick batter for frying vadas- a popular South Indian snack. The dal is also soaked with other grams and ground into batter to make dishes such as idly, dosa, papad, etc.
Popular Urad Dal Recipes
Vada is one of the popular urad dal recipes in South India which is a snack. The dal is soaked in water for 3-4 hours and ground into a thick paste. The paste is shaped into balls, patted and pierced with the finger to make a hole. This is then fried in hot oil.
Idly or rice cake is also another common South Indian breakfast dish made using the dal.
Dosa is a crepe made from a batter of rice and urad dal had as a snack or a breakfast food.
Dosa and Idly usually accompany a savoury sauce called chutney made from grated fresh coconut.
Papads or fries are common snacks all over India made by frying dried flakes of rolled urad dal dough.
Cuisines Using Urad Dal
There are many Urad dal recipes in Punjabi cuisine and Pakistani cuisine and is used as an ingredient called 'sabit maash' for making dal makhani. In South India Urad dal recipes make use of the dal for making Idly, Vada, Dosa and papad. It is also used to make chutney powder a common side had with dosa, idly and rice.
Preferable Cooking Methods For Urad Dal
Urad dal is used to make dal - a stew from whole or split, de-husked seeds. It is more often had with rice and vegetables in Northern India & Pakistan and with both rice and roti-the Indian flat bread made from wheat. Sri Lankan urad dal recipes are similar to that of Southern Indian dishes.
Nutritive Value of Urad Dal
Urad dal is a rich source of protein and can compensate the protein from meat in food. It can be a good alternate for meat for people to switch over to vegan or vegetarian diet. It is also a good source of nutrition for diabetics.
Urad Dal Buying/Storing Tips
Urad dal is sold as black lentil- the whole bean with black skin or as dal which has been skinned and split known as white lentil. They may be sold in bulk or in pre-packed bins in retail stores. The packs having tampered covering, moisture content and cracked or broken seeds with insect damage must not be chosen. Packs from stores that have good turnover of the product must be chosen. They must be preserved in an air tight container in a cool, dark and dry place.
The largest commercial producers of Urad Dal are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the United States.