Urad Dal

Urad Dal
The Powerhouse of Protein

Urad Dal, or Indian Red Lentil, is a staple in Indian cuisine and widely enjoyed. An excellent source of protein and fiber, Urad Dal is often eaten as part of vegetarian or vegan diets and rich in iron, folate, potassium and magnesium – as well as being used to create various dishes like dals, soups, curries and snack items. In this article we’ll look into its origin, nutritional benefits and uses in Indian cooking.

What Is Urad Dal and Where Did It Originate

Urad Dal is a type of split lentil from the mung bean family with an outer black layer and white interior that features a slightly sweet flavor, known as black lentils or black grams. Urad Dal has become popular across India since its introduction into their cuisine; particularly popular among northern regions of India and many Northern Indian cuisines. While its exact source remains unknown, many believe its origin lies within India itself.

Urad Dal in Various Indian Languages

Urad Dal is known by various names across Indian languages. In Hindi it is called ‘Urad”, while Bengali refers to it as “Urad Dal”. Tamil refers to it as “Uluntham Paruppu” while Telugu uses “Minapa Pappu”. Kannada refers to Urad Dal as “Uddina Bele”, while Marathi uses “Udid Dal”. These diverse references to it reflect India’s rich cultural and linguistic diversity.

How Can You Select Perfect Urad Dal?

Selecting an ideal Urad Dal can make an enormous impactful difference in flavor, texture and nutrition of your dishes. Here are some guidelines to help you choose perfect Urad Dal:

  • Choose Urad Dal that has uniform hue throughout.
  • Avoid Urad Dal that appears discolored or has any indications of insect damage.
  • Search for Urad Dal that is clean, dry and free from debris or rocks.
  • Find Urad Dal that has recently been packaged, as it will likely have more flavorful and fresh ingredients.

Interesting Facts About Urad Dal

Urad Dal isn’t only nutritious; it also boasts some interesting facts that make this grain very interesting! Here are a few:

  • Urad Dal has been grown on the Indian subcontinent for millennia.
  • Urad Dal is made by peeling away the outer coat of lentils to make them easier for digesting and cooking, thereby making Urad Dal an easy dish to prepare.
  • Urad Dal is frequently used in Ayurveda due to its many health benefits.
  • The origins of the name ‘Urad’ remain elusive; some speculate it comes from Sanskrit word ulavalam.

Nutritional Benefits of Urad Dal

Urad Dal is an excellent source of essential nutrients and minerals, offering many nutritional advantages over its alternatives. Here are a few benefits associated with eating Urad Dal:

  • Urad Dal is packed with protein: it has approximately 25 grams per 100 grams, making it an excellent source of nutrition for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Urad Dal is an excellent source of dietary fiber that supports digestive health and regularity of bowel movement.
  • Urad Dal is packed with essential vitamins and minerals: It boasts high concentrations of iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Urad Dal is an ideal food to support weight loss. Low in both fat and calories while packed full of dietary fiber, making it a wonderful source of weight-reducing nutrition.

Types of Urad Dal

Urad Dal is available in various forms, such as whole, split and skinned varieties. Whole Urad Dal has an outer black skin while split Urad Dal can either have no or a thin white outer skin – here are the various varieties:

  • Whole Urad Dal: This type of black lentil features an outer skin for easy digestion.
  • Split Urad Dal: This variety of dal features a creamy white interior without an outer skin, and no discernible grain texture.
  • Split and Skinned Urad Dal: This version of Urad Dal is similar to its counterpart but with its outer layer removed.

Uses for Urad Dal

Urad Dal is an integral component of Indian cuisine. Common uses for Urad Dal include Dal Makhani, Idlis, Dosas and Vadas among many others. Here are some other uses:

  • Soups and stews: Urad Dal can add protein and fiber to soups and stews, giving these dishes more nutrition.
  • Snacks: Urad Dal is commonly used as an ingredient in snacks like papads, vadas and fritters.
  • Urad Dal is frequently used in dals, curries and stews.

Proper Storage of Urad Dal

For maximum freshness and pest-free storage of Urad Dal, here are some helpful storing tips:

  • Urad Dal should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location to preserve its freshness and prevent moisture build-up.
  • Urad Dal should never be stored in the refrigerator as this can allow moisture to cause it to spoil over time.

Health Benefits of Urad Dal

Urad Dal is packed with nutrients that provide many health benefits. Here are a few benefits associated with eating Urad Dal:

  • it aids in digestion and bowel regularity
  • it is good for bone health
  • it is high in iron, which helps to prevent anemia
  • it can lower cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content
  • it is an excellent source of protein and is beneficial for vegetarians and vegans.

Who Should Avoid Consuming Urad Dal?

While Urad Dal is a healthy food for most people, there are some exceptions:

  • Individuals suffering from kidney stones or high oxalates levels should refrain from eating Urad Dal as it contains excessive levels of oxalates.
  • Urad Dal has a warming effect on the body, so it should be avoided during hot summer months.
  • Important to keep in mind is that eating too much Urad Dal may lead to flatulence and digestive issues for some individuals.


Urad Dal is an exceptionally nutritious and versatile lentil that offers numerous health benefits. A staple in Indian cuisine, Urad Dal can be found in dishes such as dals, curries and soups – providing protein, fiber and essential nutrients such as iron, folate and magnesium. When selected and stored correctly it remains fresh and flavorful while its rich history, versatile uses and exceptional nutritional value make Urad Dal an essential addition to a well-balanced diet.