A measuring cup of red kidney beans

red kidney beans

Very popular in Punjabi cuisine, these beans have a strong flavour with a slightly sweet aftertaste, a nutty aroma and a chewy texture.

a small mound of mung beans

mung beans

Mung beans are a most versatile product. They are eaten whole, sprouted, split with the skins on and split with the skins removed.

a small mound of dried chickpeas


Chickpeas are used in snacks, salads and dals. They are the basic ingredient in besan, a gluten-free flour used extensively in Indian cuisine. Some of our favourite recipes in this book feature chickpeas, or besan.

a bowl of black split lentils, half with skin on, and the other with skin removed

black gram

Black gram or urad dal is common in Indian cooking. The product sold as black lentil is usually the whole urad bean, whereas the skinned and split bean, which has a white interior, is called the white lentil.

A bowl of uncooked split red lentils

red lentils

Masoor dal is versatile. If you are unsure of what dal to use in any recipe, then these red lentils should be your default option.

a mound of split pigeon peas

split pigeon peas

Split pigeon peas, or toor dal, are beige with a yellow interior. They have distinctive nutty flavour.

a mound of black-eyed peas

black eyed peas

Black-eyed peas are creamy white in colour and have a black mark on their inner curve. They have a subtle, nutty aroma and a rich creamy taste that is slightly earthy.

a bowl of split yellow peas

yellow split peas

Yellow split peas are the dried, peeled and split seeds of the pea. They are sometimes referred to as split Bengal gram or sometimes channa dal.

four bowls of uncooked dal

what is dal?

Dal, when referred to as an ingredient, is often taken to mean lentils, but really refers to lentils, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans and so on. This essay looks at these ingredients.