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Types Of Lentils

Updated on October 22, 2011

Lentils belong to the legume family and are an excellent source of protein and fibers. Although they are consumed worldwide they are more popular in the subcontinent especially in India where the cuisine is mostly comprised of vegetarian dishes.

There are more varieties of lentils in subcontinent than any other part of the world. The most popular dish of the subcontinent is perhaps the “Dal Chawal”, dal: lentil and Chawal: rice.

There is a large variety of lentils and they are of many types. Some of the important types are discussed below:

Black Lentils

The black lentils which are also called the beluga lentils are small, shiny and delicate lentils. When cooked they further shrink in size and appear as beluga caviar, hence the name beluga. The beluga lentils have a mild salty taste and are mostly used in the making of lentil soups and salads.

Black Lentils
Black Lentils

In the subcontinent they are popular as urad dal and are used in the making of popular Indian dishes such as dosas and poppadums. In countries like Pakistan they are mostly eaten in a curry form with plain white rice.

Red Lentils

The red lentils or the Masoor dal are very popular in the sub continent. They are orange red in color and have a strong nutty taste.

There are many popular dishes of subcontinent which include the red lentils. They are used in the making of various soups, stews or can be made into spicy dal dishes taken with boiled rice.

Red Lentils
Red Lentils
Mung Daal (Yellow) with Urad Daal (white)
Mung Daal (Yellow) with Urad Daal (white)
Cooked Brown Lentils
Cooked Brown Lentils
Simple Cooked Chana Dal
Simple Cooked Chana Dal

The Moong Dal

The moong dal is another popular dal in the subcontinent. The moong dal itself is of two types: the split beans and the whole beans. The whole beans of the moong dal are green in color. They have a strong flavor but are lighter than the split beans.

The whole beans of the moong dal are rich in fiber and are light and easy on the stomach. They are mostly used in soups and are cooked with different vegetables. Since they are very light, they can be consumed in simple boiled form with rice.

The split beans of the moong dal, on the other hand are bright yellow in color. The split beans have a salty and nutty taste; they fluff up on boiling and are used in a variety of dishes in the subcontinent cuisine.

Brown Lentils

Commonly known as the masar dal in the subcontinent, have small to medium sized disc shaped brown beans.

These lentils have a salty and a characteristic flavor which makes them ideal for lentil soups. These lentils take a large amount of water to boil but if cooked for long they get mushy and go bland.

They too are commonly eaten simply boiled with rice in the subcontinent.

Yellow Split Peas (Chana Dal)

This is without a doubt the most popular lentil in the subcontinent. It is the split of a chickpea and is a large disc shaped yellow colored lentil.

The Chana dal has a very strong flavor and has an excellent taste. They are used in many dishes of subcontinent cuisine.

The grounded form the chana dal which is called a “baisin” is a very important ingredient and constituent of the subcontinent cuisine.

The chana dal is eaten either simply boiled, in a spicy curry form, in stews or mixed with meat and vegetables. It is mostly taken along with boiled or brown fried rice.

Yellow Lentils
Yellow Lentils
French Green Lentils
French Green Lentils

The Yellow Lentils (Arhar or Toor Daal)

The arhar or the toor dal is a very popular dal in India, especially in the northern parts of India where it is a very popular constituent of northern cuisine.

The arhar dal has rounded yellow beans which have a sweet and nutty flavor.

They are mostly used in soups and a popular dish of India known as sambha.

Macachiados Lentils

These are not the subcontinent lentils but are a popular Mexican variety of lentils.

These are large yellow lentils with a strong nutty taste.

They are used in making of various Mexican cuisines including some popular spicy lentil soups.

French Green Lentils

These are a French variety of lentils and are also known as the Puy lentils as they originated in Le Puy, France.

These lentils are small and are brownish green in color. Some other varieties of this lentil are speckled green.

The French green lentils remain firm and don’t swell up or get mushy on boiling. Hence they are used in salads and dishes in which the lentils should remain firm.


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