Before we start, please know these are just some of the legumes used in Indian cooking.
Difference between legumes, pulses, lentils, beans:
Pulses are dried seeds (which includes dried lentils and dried beans). So everything you see in this post is considered a pulse and all pulses are considered legumes (but not all legumes are pulses… that’s not really important right now but just for your info.).
What is Dal?
Dal has two meanings:
Dal translates to lentil Dal is also a lentil-based dish
Typically I’d be more specific and would ask him to pick up a particular type of dal (like masoor or chana dal). Basically you need dal (lentil) to make dal (lentil soup).
While you can make a dal out of any pulse, typically the word “dal” only shows up in the name of a pulse if it is a split lentil. So for example chana dal = split chickpeas whereas if I am referring to whole chickpeas I would just say chana or chole. I would not say I am making chole dal.
One more interesting thing to know about legumes used in Indian cooking is that the same legume can be used in several different ways: whole, split, with the “skin” on and with the “skin” off. A good example of this are the last three photos of legumes in this blog post which all actually come from the same black legume: whole black lentils (whole urad dal), whole skinless black lentils (whole skinless urad dal), split and skinless black lentils (split and skinless urad dal).
Other Names: Lobia, Cow Pea, Chawli, Raungi
Other Names: Garbanzo Beans, Kabuli Chana, Safed Chana, Chana, Chitte Chole, Chole
Brown Chickpeas (Kala Chana)
Other Names: Bengal Gram, Desi Chickpeas
Split Chickpeas (Chana Dal)
Other Names: Split Bengal Gram, Split Desi Chickpeas
When you split and skin brown chickpeas (the photo above this one), you get chana dal. This yellow lentil is what’s inside brown chickpeas (kala chana). Besan, known as chickpea flour, is made using chana dal.
Whole Mung Beans
Other Names: Green Gram, Sabut Moong, Green Moong
Small Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal)
Other names = yellow split mung beans
When you split a whole mung bean (the green lentil photo above this one), you get moong dal. This tiny yellow lentil is what’s inside whole moong (green lentil).
Split Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal)
Other names = tuvar, arhar
Other Names: Rajma
Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
Whole Black Lentils (Whole Urad Dal)
Other Names: Black Gram, Maa ki Dal
Whole Skinless Black Lentils (Whole Skinless Urad Dal)
Split and Skinless Black Lentils (Split and Skinless Urad Dal)