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Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly.  Lentils have a mild, often earthy flavor, and they're best if cooked with assertive flavorings.  The best, most delicate lentils are the peppery French green lentils. These hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other lentils. The milder brown lentils also hold their shape after cooking, but can easily turn mushy if overcooked.  Indian markets also carry a wide variety of split lentils, called dal.   Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris.  Unlike dried beans and peas, there's no need to soak them.  Lentils cook more slowly if they're combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last.  Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook.  Store dried lentils for up to a year in a cool, dry place. Substitutes: dal OR split peas OR black-eyed peas 



arhar dal

beluga lentil = black beluga lentil = beluga black lentil = petite beluga lentil  Notes:  These glisten when they're cooked, which makes them look like beluga caviar.  They're great in soups or salads.  Substitutes:  French green lentils

Bengal gram

black chickpeas = kala channa = Bengal gram   Notes:   These are more rust-colored than black, and have a nutty flavor.  Look for them in Indian markets.  Substitutes:  chickpeas

black gram

black lentil

brown lentil = Indian brown lentil = German lentil = green lentil = continental lentil = Egyptian lentil   Notes:   These are the standard khaki-colored lentils you see on grocery shelves everywhere.  They tend to get mushy if overcooked.  If you want them to be firm, add oil to the cooking water and cook the lentils just a short while, say 15 minutes.   Substitutes:  French green lentils (considered better) OR yellow lentils OR red lentils (smaller, take less time to cook) 

channa dal  = chana dal = gram dal   Notes:   With their sweet and nutty flavor, these are the most popular dal in India.  They're made from splitting a small relative of the chickpea in half.  They're a dull yellow and are renown for causing flatulence, which Indians try to counter by adding asafoetida to the dish.   Substitutes:  toor dal (a bit smaller, but similar) OR yellow split peas OR garbanzo beans

chowli dal  Notes:  These are black-eyed peas that have been skinned and split.  Look for them in Indian markets.

continental lentil

dal = dhaal = dhal = dhall = daal    Notes:   Dal is the Indian term for peas, beans, or lentils that have been split and often skinned, but the name is sometimes used for all lentils, peas, or beans, or to cooked dishes made with them.  Split lentils don't hold their shape well, so they're often cooked into soups or purées.     

French green lentils = Puy lentils = lentilles du Puy = lentilles vertes du Puy   Shopping hints:  These choice lentils were originally grown in the volcanic soils of Puy in France, but now they're also grown in North America and Italy.  They're especially good in salads since they remain firm after cooking and have a rich flavor.  They cook a bit slower than other lentils.   Substitutes:  beluga lentils OR brown lentils (These don't hold their shape as well as French green lentils.) OR masoor  

German lentil

gram dal (or lentil) 

horse gram = kulith  Notes:  A staple of many Indian farm families, horse gram has an assertive, earthy flavor.  Substitutes:  channa dal

Indian brown lentil

lentilles du Puy

masoor = masar = mussoor   Notes:   When whole, this bean is greenish-brown, but recipes often call for the skinned and split masoor, which is called masoor dal.   Substitutes:  lentils du Puy OR brown lentils    


masoor dal = masar dal  = mussoor dal = masur dal = pink lentil   Notes:   These are skinned and split masoor lentils.  They're salmon-colored, cook quickly, and turn golden and mushy when cooked.    Substitutes:  red lentils OR yellow lentils OR green lentils (hold their shape better when cooked)  

moath = matki  Notes:  These small brown beans are often sprouted.  Substitutes:  mung beans

moong dal    Notes:    These are mung beans that have been skinned and split, so that they're flat,  yellow, and quick-cooking.  They're relatively easy to digest.   Substitutes:  split peas

Puy lentil

red lentil    Notes:   The most common type of red lentil is the Red Chief.  It's a lovely salmon pink in its dried form, but it turns golden when cooked.  These lentils cook faster than others.  They're best in purées or soups.   Substitutes:  masoor dal OR yellow lentils OR green lentils (These hold their shapes better when cooked.) OR brown lentils


toor = tuvar = arhar = tur    Notes:   These lentils are tan when whole, but they're usually sold skinned and split, which reveals their yellow interiors.  They're popular in Southern and Western India.   Look for them in Indian markets.  Substitutes:  channa dal OR yellow split peas OR pigeon peas


toor dal = tuvar dal = arhar dal = yellow lentils = tur dal   Notes:   Whole toor lentils are yellow with tan jackets, but they're usually sold skinned and split.  They have a mild, nutty flavor, and they're often cooked as a side dish or ground into flour.  They're sometimes sold with an oily coating, which you should rinse off.  Look for them at Indian markets.  Substitutes:  channa dal OR yellow split peas OR pigeon peas



urad dal = black lentil = black gram = kali dal   Notes:  These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors.  Whole urad dal derive their strong, earthy flavor from the black skins and are often used in curries.  Split urad dal retain the skins and also have a strong flavor.  Skinned and split urad dal are creamy white and somewhat bland.    Substitutes:  mung beans OR azuki beans OR pigeon peas


urad dal, skinned and split = white lentils = skinned and split black lentils   Notes:   These are black lentils (or urad dal) that have been split and skinned.   They're much milder than unskinned   Substitutes:  urad dal, split (These are chewier than the skinned versions.)

urad dal, split = split black lentils = chilke urad   Notes:   These are black lentils (or urad dal) that have been split but not skinned.   They're not as mild as white lentils, which have been split and skinned.  Substitutes:  urad dal, skinned and split (cooks more quickly)

val dal = split lablab beans   Notes:   These are skinned and split lablab beans.   They're available in Indian markets.   Substitutions:  black-eyed peas OR  split peas


yellow lentil


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