Dhal is a term used on the Indian subcontinent for dried, split pulses. Lentil curries are commonly referred to as dhal, but there’s a lot more to this dhal-ightful dish, so we asked Melanie Taylor from Gopal’s Curry Shack in Bristol to explain…
“I am a self-confessed dhal addict. I love dhal. Once described to me as the mashed potato of India, dhal is comforting, nutritious and tasty – and if it’s good, it is simply like a hug in bowl. For me, food doesn’t get much better.
Compared with other plants, beans are high in protein, they are also low calorie and packed full of B vitamins. What’s not to like?
While beans and pulses are used widely across the world with every culture and nation having a memorable dish, including the British pease pudding, Middle Eastern hummus and falafel, Mexican refried beans and Egyptian ful medames, it is probably the Indian subcontinent where they are most celebrated.
The word dhal means lentil, bean, pea or other dried legume in Hindi. It also refers to the stews, soups or dishes made of pulses, split or whole, found all over the Indian subcontinent. Many of you will be familiar with the restaurant style tarka dhal where a sizzling tarka, usually consisting of browned onions, sliced garlic and tempered mustard seeds and curry leaves, is added to the dhal before serving.
However, there is a huge variety of dhal in India with every region having its speciality. From the rich and unctuous Punjabi makhani dhal (which translates as buttery dhal) made with whole urid dhal (black dhal) enriched with butter and cream, or the meaty rajma made with kidney beans and tomatoes (popular in the North of India and Nepal) to the tangy, sweeter gujarati dhal flavoured with jaggery and peanuts, or the spicy sambars and rasams of the south which are much lighter and soupier, there is essentially a dhal for every day of the week, month or year.”