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The A-Z of Indian Superfoods: Urad Dal

Urad dal, a common kitchen ingredient, has been used in traditional medicine for its range of benefits. Read on to learn more about how urad dal can do wonders for your health.

By Sahajiya Halder
21 Nov 2021

Vigna mungo, known commonly as urad dal or black gram, is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, used in preparations of dal recipes or batters of various dishes. It is enriched with a variety of nutrients such as B-complex vitamins (such as folate, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B9), iron, and copper. In Ayurveda, urad dal has been said to calm Vata dosha and is used in traditional medicine for a range of purposes, from strengthening the nervous system to as a remedy of constipation.


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Benefits of urad dal

  1. High in protein: Urad dal is a good plant-based source of protein. A 100 gm of urad dal can have around 25 gm of protein. If you are looking to start with a vegan or vegetarian diet and are worried about how to get adequate protein, black grams can be a good addition.

Related Story:Five Easy Ways to Add More Protein to Your Vegan Diet

  1. Rich in fibre: Black gram is rich in dietary fibre. A 100 gm of urad dal can have around 18 gm of dietary fibre. This fibre can improve digestion and help with constipation by increasing bulk in your stool and helping it pass faster. Fibre-rich food can also help in regulating blood sugar levels, and black gram being a low glycemic food, may be helpful with diabetes management.
  2. Contains iron: Black gram is high in iron content. A 100 gm of whole black gram can contain around 6 mg of iron. Iron is key in production of haemoglobin, and can boost energy levels, besides helping in maintaining a host of other necessary body functions.
  3. May improve heart health: Urad dal is a good source of many important minerals, which have benefits for your heart health. Magnesium plays an important role in your cardiovascular health and is key for maintaining a healthy heartbeat. Potassium, found in black gram, relaxes the walls of your blood vessels, and can thus help to regulate blood pressure.
  4. Good for bone health: Urad dal is also rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are important for maintaining proper bone and dental health. Other minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which black gram is enriched with, also help in ensuring proper bone mineral density.
  5. Can be a good probiotic source: Fermented black gram can be an excellent probiotic food, and can be especially beneficial in this regard for individuals with lactose intolerance. Probiotic food helps in maintaining the balance in your gut microbiome, which is important for many aspects of your overall wellness.


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How to use black gram or urad dal

  1. Spicy urad dal vadis can be a delicious addition to your dishes. Soak urad dal for about 5 hours, then drain the water and grind the dal into a coarse paste. Coarsely grind coriander seed, fennel seed, black pepper, and red chillies, and add them (as well as a little asafoetida) to the dal paste. Mix very well. Shape this mixture into small dumplings and place them on an oil-greased plate. Dry the vadis in the sun adequately.
  2. One of the most popular recipes with urad dal is Maa ki dal or kali dal. Rinse and soak whole black grams overnight. In a pressure cooker, heat ghee and sizzle some cumin seeds. Sauté some chopped onion and add in ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Add puréed tomatoes and spice powders (turmeric, coriander, red chilli, and garam masala). Stir the mixture well. Add in the drained urad dal and use water and salt as needed. Cover and pressure cook for about 30 minutes. You can also combine urad dal with other legumes to make dishes such as dal makhani or panchratan dal.
  3. Use urad dal in your dosa batter.
  4. Make medu vadas with urad dal. Grind soaked urad dal into a smooth, fluffy batter. Add crushed peppercorns, chopped ginger, chopped curry leaves, chopped green chillies, chopped coriander leaves, a pinch of asafoetida, and salt to the batter and mix well. Shape them like doughnuts (round with a hole in the middle) and fry in a deep pan until golden brown on medium flame. Urad dal is also used to make idli batter.
  5. Black gram flour can also be used to make papad.
  6. Make DIY face packs by combining black gram paste with things such as milk, curd, or rosewater for softer, glowing skin.


Things to keep in mind

Some individuals may be allergic to urad dal. Consuming high quantities of black gram may increase uric acid levels in your body and may contribute to kidney stones or gallstones.


Related story: The A-Z of Indian Superfoods: Spinach


The above information has been verified by Dr Lakshmi K, Ph.D Food Science & Nutrition, University of Georgia (USA), Head Nutritionist, URLife




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