‘Dal’ is the lifeblood of Indian food, but where did it come from in our plate?

bhartiye daal

In the world of online food services, you can order lentils and rice, but the same thing is to be done by ordering and eating lentils and rice too!! Everyone has learned something in the lockdown. An interesting fact about pulses is that our country is the largest producer and consumer of pulses.

Comfort food – lentils and rice

daal rice

We Indians get relief from only two things – tea and homemade lentils stirred in ghee. Do not know what is the magic in these simple things that no matter how bad the mood is, it gets cured immediately. Every Indian feels connected to dal and rice. We have many types of pulses here. Sprouted gram and moong are also made of lentils and peas too. Tadka ki dal is also prepared and baaghar waali too. Even lentils are made by adding vegetables and meat and fish!

State differs, favorite pulses are also different

chana daal

India, a country of diversities, also has diversity in food, spices etc. It is the greed for spices that dragged the foreigners to our soil. The method of making dal is also different in different regions. Somewhere only salt and turmeric are added to the lentils, some spices, and sometimes jaggery and sweetness too!

Mention of pulses in Vedas and Puranas


Food historian K T Achayal in his book Indian Food: A Historical Companion writes that pulses are also mentioned in Yajurveda, Rigveda, Markandeya Purana and Vishnu Purana. They also say that ‘Kosumalli’ was very dear to Shri Ram, cucumber and raw coconut and lemon juice were also mixed in it. In Vedic times, pulses used to satisfy the hunger of the poor, says KT Acharya.

Mention of pulses in Buddhist and Jain literature

The Buddhist and Jain literature of 400 BC also has written about lentils. In these texts there is mention of pea dal, tur, tur, gram dal. It has also been said that it reached India from Alexandria. Rajma came to our plate after 350 BC. In the Buddhist period, a large parantha-like sweet dish was made by stuffing lentils.

Plenty of lentils are used in South Indian cuisine as well.


Lentils are widely used in South Indian cuisine. Be it Idli, Dosa, Vada or Sambar. In 2000 BC, sweet parathas and vadas filled with lentils were made on the day of Poornima and Diwali. In Tirupati temple also, urad dal laddus are offered to Lord Venkatesh. According to Achay, 30 cooks prepare 70 thousand laddus daily.

Mention in old literature of India

King Someshwar of the Kalyan dynasty of Madhya Pradesh mentioned the dishes made from lentils and lentils in his book, Mansollas, in 1130. According to this literature, a dish called Vidalpak was prepared by mixing flour of five types of pulses (gram, rajma, masoor, moong and tur).

Lentils were also in Chandragupta Maurya’s wedding feast

Lentils have been an important part of the diet of us Indians since centuries ago. According to an article in The Better India, there was Ghughni (a kind of pulse) at Chandragupta Maurya’s wedding feast. Rajput princess Jodha Bai gave place to Panchmel dal in the Mughal cuisine. The Mughals liked this pulse so much that by the time Shah Jahan took over the throne, it had become a royal Panchmel Dal.

Our food is incomplete without pulses

In Bihar, lentils were ground and made into sattu. Apart from this, phulori, tilori, dahi vada, all are made from lentils only. Khandvi is made in Gujarat from pulses. Talking about West Bengal, here Chholear Dal i.e. gram dal is more preferred. Then cook gram dal in a vegetarian way or prepare a dish by mixing fish in it. It would not be wrong to say that without pulses, the food of us Indians seems incomplete. No matter how many vegetables there are, if there is no pulse in the plate, then it seems that something is left in the food.

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