Panchmel Dal, Dal Makhani, Kaali Dal, Dal Fry, Amti, Cholar Dal, Tadka Dal, Gujarati Khatti Meethi Dal, Pitla, Dal ka Shorba, Spicy Mixed Dal, Sambhar, Hare Lehsun ki Dal, Dhanshak, Dal Kanda …
Oh wait! No, you are not reading a restaurant menu…
Instead, we are just trying to reminisce a few dal variants to dig into a diet rich in proteins.
Dals are cooked in varied ways across India, and you cannot undermine their importance in Indian Cuisine. For Indians, dal is a staple and eaten at least once or twice a day in most households. For the majority of vegetarian Indians, dal is the primary source of complementary proteins. They are so amazingly versatile that these dals aren't an accompaniment to cereals in main meals but to a variety of snacks (Khaman, Khandvi, Dhokla) and even main dishes (Dal Dhokli, Moong Dal Khichu, Usal Misal) made from them. Protein options in India are expensive, whether it is milk, curd, paneer, khoa, or non-veg food. And hence Dals are the only cost-effective protein source to provide an excellent composition nutritionally. Dals are rich in almost all amino acids (except for limited amounts of methionine & tryptophan).
While India still grapples with issues of malnutrition and overnutrition, protein is one nutrient that we all need to add to our diets. Surprisingly, both the lower and higher socio-economic groups in India are low in protein intake. As compared to any other country, India has one of the lowest average consumptions. IMRB report (2017) critically states that protein deficiency among Indians stands at more than 80 percent. While taking a closer look at protein consumption, the highest share of protein in the Indian diet is also met by these cereals (which are typically not even considered a good source of protein). To exacerbate the problem, cereal proteins are digested poorly due to the presence of high levels of insoluble fiber and anti-nutritional factors – can you please elaborate here – what kind. Dals, on the other hand, have a unique amino acid-rich nutrient profile. And form complementary proteins when taken along with cereals. The cereal dal combination is used extensively as comfort food by most Indians whether, it is the humble khichdi, dal-baati, or rajma-chawal. If your mood needs a little bit of uplift, then nothing better than digging into a bowl of regular dal-chawal. Just as you relish that quick meal, you will realize how ubiquitous dal is and yet how often it is underplayed even today.
ETG Agro India, with its flagship enterprise ETC Agro Processing India Pvt Ltd., is the largest pulses processing company. We aim at building India as a protein-rich nation by making protein through pulses affordable, available & accessible to mass consumers.
So there are companies that are working towards it, hence, we suggest, keep calm, and don’t forget to have your dals!
Authored by - Dietitian Kamna Desai