Pulses or legumes are an integral part of Indian cooking, which forms a key component of a wholesome meal plan. Dal, the storehouse of good quality plant protein replete with a ton of health benefitting properties. One such dal that abounds with an extremely rich nutrient profile is toor dal or arhar dal.It is a staple food among several cultures and cuisines all through the length and breadth of India that also serves as a nutritious vegetarian meat alternative. Be it dal chawal or sambar sadam or rice with pappu, toor dal is the quintessential ingredient and undeniably the most relished culinary delight. Mainly for vegetarians’ toor dal is an incredible source of proteins, carbs and other vital nutrients needed for normal growth, development and tissue repair.
Pigeon peas are called by many vernacular names in the regional languages of India as Toor dal or arhar dal or rahri dal in Hindi, thogari bele in Kannada, Tur in Bengali, Turi or Toor in Marathi, Turdalya or tuvar in Gujarati or kandulu or kandi pappu in Telugu or thuvaram paruppu in Tamil and thuvara parippa in Malayalam. Each state in India has its unique way of using the hearty dal in a spectrum of ways. Toor dal with a mild flavour melds well with any ingredient and flavour, which is commonly used in making dal, sambar, rasam, soups, dal halwa, paruppu vada to mention a few.
Toor Dal/Pigeon Pea Plant
Toor dal is a perennial legume that belongs to the Fabaceae family, which is also known as pigeon pea or split pigeon pea, arhar dal or red gram dal. Tracing its root to the Indian subcontinent at least 3500 years ago, this lentil had been the main food in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Toor dal is widely grown in tropical and semitropical regions across the world, India accounts for 72% of major production of pigeon pea in an area covering 3.9 million hectares. It is a drought-resistant plant and can be cultivated in regions with minimal rainfall. Toor dal is cultivated solely as a crop or merged with cereals such as sorghum, pearl millet or maize or with other legumes such as peanuts. Pigeon pea is capable of symbiosis with Rhizobia, the bacteria linked with toor dal nurtures soils through symbiotic nitrogen fixation. The seed pods look flat, sickle-shaped with a length of 5-9 cm, each pod comprises 3-9 seeds that range from white, cream, yellow, purple or a combination of any of these shades. Pigeon pea grows to a height of 0.5- 4.0 m, the crop usually survives for three to five years, though the yield falls considerably after the first two years.
Processing Of Toor Dal
Dehulling of lentils is an age-old practice in India, where hand pounding was common. Some of the other traditional methods of processing toor dal are classified under two categories:
The wet method comprises soaking seeds in water, then it is sun-dried and dehulled.
This method involves applying oil and water on the seeds, then drying in the sun and dehulling. Large quantities of pigeon peas are commercially dehulled where the lentils are deskinned and split in mechanically functioning mills.
The holistic science of ayurveda values toor dal as an amazing food and medicinal legume in treating several health woes. Right from the seeds, young fresh pods, shoot and leaves are widely used for culinary purposes. In traditional practice, toor dal is used internally in the form of healing soup and externally it is applied as a paste or ointment. This lentil is good for boosting liver health and brings about lightness in the body. The leaves are used to treat bleeding disorder, worm infestation and also acts as a natural laxative. The paste of red gram leaves is applied over mouth ulcers and inflammation to heal stomatitis. Apart from these, a poultice made from pigeon pea leaves and seed is applied over the breast to stimulate lactation. Toor dal is well-known to increase vata dosha, while it balances pitta and kapha dosha and improves overall complexion.
Nutritional Content In Toor Dal
Toor dal is an incredible source of proteins, carbs and dietary fibre needed for growth and development. Adding toor dal in your diet helps to meet your demands of iron and calcium while being a good source of folic acids promotes foetal growth and averts congenital birth defects of the foetus. The essence of dietary fibre and protein in toor dal control hunger pangs, delays digestion, supports weight loss, regulates diabetes and diminishes cholesterol levels. Furthermore, vast reserves of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc aids to enhance physical and mental well-being.
According to the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture) the nutrition content in a serving or cup of toor dal is:
Calories -343 kcal
Total Fat 1.5g
Total Carbohydrate 63g
Potassium 1392 mg
Iron 28 %
Vitamin B6 15%
Potential Health Benefits Of Toor Dal
Power-Packed With Protein
Toor dal is an abundant source of good quality protein, which is a building block of the body and promotes growth and overall well-being. This dal when blended with cereals forms a source of complete protein delivering all the essential amino acids that strengthens muscle mass and repairs tissues. Incorporating toor dal in the diet regimen is one of the most effective ways to meet the protein needs of growing children.
Good Source of Folic Acid
Toor dal is blessed with vast reserves of folic acid that holds a key role in pregnancy for the normal development of the baby. The need for folic acid increases during pregnancy and it shields the baby against congenital birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Adding toor dal in the meal plan helps pregnant women to avert the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and anaemia.
Loaded With B Vitamins
Toor dal is packed with huge volumes of B complex vitamins that are vital for the normal metabolic process. Riboflavin plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism that prevents fat storage and boost energy levels. While niacin exhibits potent antioxidant effects that enhances skin radiance and glow and shields the skin from harmful UV rays.
Boosts Iron Reserves
Poor haemoglobin levels can cause fatigue, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, hair loss and if left untreated, it would lead to other serious complications. Toor dal is an impressive source of plant-based iron and folic acid and it pumps iron levels naturally.
Want to lose weight in a healthy way? Then start adding a good lot of protein foods to your meal plan. Toor dal being intrinsically rich in protein keeps you satiated and controls untimely hunger pangs. While the goodness of dietary fibre and a low glycaemic index helps you to shed weight by reducing appetite, triggers metabolism and reduces the intake of overall calories. Moreover, being low on saturated fats toor dal makes it super wholesome food for all weight watchers.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Pigeon pea is a good source of potassium that acts as a potent vasodilator reducing blood constriction, improves blood flow and controls high blood pressure. Including toor dal in the diet is highly valuable for hypertensive patients, as they are susceptible to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Enhances Gut Health
Good gut health is often an indication of overall well-being. Digestive problems like bloating, indigestion, constipation can be irritating and may deplete nutrients in the needed amounts to the system. Toor dal act as an effective digestive stimulant that promotes digestive flora and eases all other gastrointestinal woes.
Healthy For Diabetics
Toor dal is a must-to add lentil in the diet plan of diabetics, as the glycaemic index of arhar dal is 29. Being a good source of complex carbs and dietary fibre, toor dal boost metabolism and offer your body a steady supply of energy. Foods low in GI keep you satiated, delays digestion and reduces blood sugar spikes.
Augments Heart Health
Toor dal is completely devoid of saturated fats, so it makes a great choice of protein for those with heart problems. While the abundance of dietary fibres and niacin helps to enhance good HDL cholesterol levels and reduces bad LDL cholesterol levels. This averts the deposits of plaque in the heart vessels, easing cardiac muscle function and promotes overall heart wellness.
Fortifies Bone Health
Pigeon peas, being a superb source of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, strengthens bones in growing children. It also reinstates optimal bone density in elderly people, thus alleviating the risk of osteoporosis.
Bolsters Immune System
An immense amount of magnesium in toor dal helps to build a robust immune system and keep infections at bay. Magnesium is one of the key minerals actively involved in the functioning of more than 300 bodily processes and uplifts both physical and mental well-being.
How To Cook Toor Dal?
Toor dal is endowed with a dense nutrient profile but also exhibits certain anti-nutritional effects. Several pieces of evidence have revealed that lentils contain trypsin inhibitors and high on phytate, trypsin is an enzyme that helps in the digestion of protein and phytate reduces the bioavailability of minerals.
However, soaking lentils overnight or for 2-3 hours in warm water can considerably lessen the phytate level and uplift the availability of vital nutrients.
Wash and soak toor dal overnight in warm water.
Add soaked dal in the pressure cooker with enough water and salt. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles until soft and done.
Toor/Pigeon Pea Recipes
From sumptuous delicacies like dal tadka to snacks like dal handvo, paruppu vada and desserts like halwa ,payasam, puran poli, toor/arhar dal is the most widely used form of lentil in Indian households. Here we bring you two flavourful and lip-smacking toor dal recipes –Palak Toovar Dal and Puran Poli. These wholesome dishes will guarantee you all the vital nutrients and proteins to uplift your overall health and well-being.
Palak Toovar Dal
Toor dal is a versatile ingredient that melds with any greens offering the right consistency without becoming gooey. Palak and toovar dal blend together well, rightly pressure cooked to get a wholesome dish. Seasoned with whole spices imparts a fresh aroma and tempting flavour to the Palak Toovar Dal. It is a mouth-watering delight overflowing with nutrients.
1/2 cup toor dal, soaked for 1 hour and drained
2 cups chopped palak
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
1 tsp ginger paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp ghee
Salt To Taste
2 bay leaves
3 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
In a pressure cooker add toor dal, palak, green chillies, ginger paste, turmeric powder, salt and 3 cups of water and cook well for 3 whistles.
Let the steam escape before opening the lid.
Mix dal to a coarse consistency using a hand -blender.
Heat ghee in a pan, add all the spices and sauté on a low flame for a few seconds.
Pour the tempering over the cooked dal, add chilli powder and coriander leaves, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
Serve hot with roti or rice.
Toor dal is a powerhouse of proteins, providing essential amino acids to strengthen muscle mass and promotes growth and development. Additionally, being laden with dietary fibres and complex carbs, toor dal is an excellent food for shedding body fat and promoting weight loss. Palak comprises ample quantities of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, which boost skin and eye health. Being a rich store of iron palak helps to pump iron stores and treats iron deficiency anaemia. Laden with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K ghee reduces inflammation and nourishes skin and hair health from deep within.
Puran poli is a popular sweet Indian flatbread. Puran poli is made with different filling such as toor dal, coconut to chana dal. In Gujarati style puran poli, toor dal, jaggery, saffron, ghee and elaichi are used to make the filling. This is an incredibly delicious and flavourful sweet served during festivals.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ghee or oil
For the Filling
1 cup toor dal soaked and drained
11/4 cups powdered jaggery
Few saffron strands
2 tbsp ghee'
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
In a bowl add the flour, oil and knead into a soft dough using water.
Divide the dough into 15 equal parts and keep it aside.
Puran poli filling
In a pressure cooker add dal with 11/2 cups of water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
Let the steam to escape before cooking.
In a non-stick pan add dal and jaggery mix well and cook for 10 minutes till the mixture thickens, while stirring continuously.
Add cardamom and saffron water and blend well
Let it cool and divide into 15 equal parts.
How To Make Poran Poli
Roll out one portion of the dough into a circle dusting it with wheat flour while rolling.
Keep the filling in the centre and fold the edges of the dough over the filling and seal the filling.
Flatten the dough and roll again into a circle.
Cook on a tava over a medium flame till it turns golden brown in colour from both sides.
Repeat the same with the remaining dough and filling.
Drizzle a little ghee on each poli and serve hot.
The goodness of toor dal, wheat flour and ghee in puran poli offers you a plentiful source of proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that can instantly boost your energy, build muscle mass, bone strength and uplifts the mood.
Toor dal/ pigeon is generally safe to be consumed by all and does not trigger any adverse side effects on health. However, people with any allergic reaction to beans and legumes must avoid it.
Toor/Arhar dal with a wealth of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants offers you umpteen healing health benefits. Adding toor dal in your meal plan is the simplest way to prevent obesity, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation and fortifies bone health. This versatile dal melds well with all the ingredients and can be prepared in a variety of ways, add them to your daily diet to reap the wellness incentives.