Dahl, Daal, Dhal, or Dal? All these are different variants in English for the same dish. We can’t seem to agree how Asian words should be spelt in English.
Linguistic matters aside, let’s focus on the health benefits of legumes like dhal! Legumes are so underused in the culinary world. They absolutely come to life when you spice them up with condiments and other flavourings! When you’re on a tight budget, dhal is a great dish and a great idea for Meatless Mondays. Dhal is one of those foods that really shines through with just a little time and tender loving care when cooked authentically; you can re-create it just like an Indian parent would.
The protein content of dhal is 3.5 times what you find in rice, and 2.5 times of that of wheat. It is 9% protein, 20% carbs (with 8% being fibre), 70% water, and 0.5% fat (cooked weight); which is about 1/3 the protein of the same grams of chicken. Hence, when you cook it in a watery dish like sambar, the proportion of protein and other nutrients will be less (and there will be more water).
Most lentils (dhals) would have a similar amount of protein (other than soybeans which are a lot higher in protein). This means that you may need to eat a larger portion of dhal to get the same protein content as animal proteins Subsequently, you need to be aware that it may be necessary to reduce your carbohydrate portion from other sources (e.g. rice) in order to obtain enough protein, especially if you have diabetes. Generally speaking, reduce your rice portion by the same amount of dhal that you are taking to account for the carbohydrates.
Amazingly Yummy Dhal That Will Impress Your Dhaling
Serves: 6 Time: 40 mins
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 pieces garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Coriander, to garnish
1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and stir-fry onion for 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in garlic, ginger, turmeric and garam masala, and cook further for a minute or until fragrant.
2. Add the lentils and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and stir occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
3. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.