Urad dal is one of the healthiest food and the more you add to your idli dosa batter, the healthier it becomes. Urad dal is one of the few vegetarian products to contain Omega-3 fatty acid which is a food for the brain and makes you clever. Urad dal may have been the miracle food eaten by many brilliant Indians. This whole page is about Urad Dal and its health benefits.
What urad dal called in English?
Black Urad dal in English is known as ‘Black Gram dal’. Urad dal in English is also known as black lentil. In Hindi Black Gram Dal is known as Urad dhuli (Black gram skinned), Urad chilka (Black gram split) and Urad sabut or Urad saboot (Black gram whole). Urad Dal is also called Kali dal in Hindi. Urad Dal in Tamil is ‘Ulundu Paruppu’, Urad dal in Telugu is ‘Minappappu’ or ‘Minapa Pappu’ and in Malayalam it is known as ‘Uzhunnu Parrippu’. Urad dal can also be spelled as urd dal and urid dal. Urad dal is a special bean that originated in India and has been grown in India from before the time of Christ 2000 years ago. The scientific name of Urad dal is ‘Vigna Mungo’.
What are the health benefits of urad dal?
Urad dal is unique in the plant kingdom, because it is only one of a handful of seeds to contain Essential Fatty Acids or EFA. Essential Fatty Acids are so called because our body cannot produce it even though it is an essential nutrient for the human body, especially for the human brain. Many of the memory enhancer tablets contains Essential Fatty Acids which is considered a brain food.
Have you ever wondered why Brahmins of India, who were pure vegetarians, got so brainy. They are considered a clever set of people. Even the British, while they ruled India, preferred to have Brahmins for all clerical and higher posts where they needed to use their brains.
The secret of the Brahmins brains may be that they used to consume a lot of fermented urad dal food like idly, dosa, vada, etc. This is because not only urad dal has EFA (Essential Fatty Acids), but also while fermenting, the bacteria and yeast in the urad dal makes it even more nutritious and this has much beneficial effect for human beings. Scientists and doctors are just about discovering the benefits of good bacteria for human beings – ‘Prebiotics’ and ‘Probiotics’. Probiotics is about the live good bacteria that we consume in food like yogurt.
Urad dal is a very healthy food because Urad dal is a prebiotic food. Prebiotic food cannot be digested by our normal digestive process, but requires the help of intestinal bacteria to digest it. This bacterial digestion in the lower part of our intestine, the large intestines, is extremely good for our health and at the same time stimulates the growth of bacteria in the digestive system. Urad dal has a high content of amylose starch which is a very good source of prebiotic food. Urad dal helps in the growth of intestinal bacteria like ‘Clostridia’ and ‘Bacteroides’, which produce Short Chain Fatty Acids -SCFA. SCFA have recently grabbed headlines in being very good for our health. Most of the study with SCFA was done proving that Oats is a super food because it helps produce SCFA in the large intestines. Urad Dal is better than Oats as a breakfast food. Prebiotics in foods like Oats and black Urad dal helps to prevent some cancers, reduce cholesterol, helps in the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
I would also like to add, in summary, a posting I wrote in a Quora:
“Could the reason for Indian CEOs heading the world’s best known companies like Google, Microsoft, Adobe and so on, be the type of food they ate while growing up? Indians like Sundararajan Pichai: CEO of Google, Satya Nadella: CEO of Microsoft, Shantanu Narayen: CEO of Adobe and Indra Nooyi: CEO of Pepsi all grew up in India. Guess what they all have in Common: They are from South India and most probably was brought up on a breakfast diet of Idli Dosa Sambar chutney. So fermented urad dal may have been the miracle food these people ate, while growing up, for their outstanding brains !!!!!”
Does urad dal cause gas?
For people who have been accustomed for a long time on western diets, which has very little fibre in their food, may experience some gas problems initially on consuming urad dal prebiotic foods like idli and dosas. Idli and Dosa, being a fermented food, all sugars and simple starches or carbohydrates are converted by the fermentation process into more nutritious food. Prebiotic food like urad dal, which are complex starches are not changed by the fermentation process. It cannot be digested by our regular digestive process either, since it requires the good bacteria in our lower intestines to digest them.
People accustomed to western food all the time, have more of the sulphite reducing bacteria which produce Hydrogen Sulphide gas, in their stomach. Once they get used to the prebiotic foods like dosas which contain urad dal, the good bacteria in the lower intestines multiply and at the same time produce the very healthy Short Chain Fatty Acids – SCFA, which in turn creates a slightly acidic environment in which the Hydrogen Sulfide producing bacteria cannot live. So in the long term, eating Dosas actually gets rid of the smelly gas problems.
So eating Urad Dal through our daily idli and dosas, makes us much more healthier with the SCFA (Short Chain Fatty Acids) and much more brainier with the EFA (Essential Fatty Acids). There is even research evidence suggesting that diets containing high contents of Urad Dal prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia. So it is good for even the older generation.
When starting to eat idli and dosa after a long break, you will experience gas problems for about a week. After that, you will not experience any gas problems.
Is idli dosa good for health?
Yes! Idlis and Dosas are among the healthiest foods you can have. It contains Urad Dal which many studies have proven to be a unique food item. In addition you get all the fermented food benefits of health since idli and dosa are fermented food.
Fermentation is a process by which the good bacteria called Probiotic bacteria converts sugars and simple starches in the dosa batter to an acidic product. During this process, the probiotic bacteria produce Carbon dioxide gas which makes the dosa maavu dough or batter to rise and convert the sugars into proteins and vitamins. Thus the fermentation process of the dosa batter makes the dosa batter more nutritious. Since all the sugars and simple starches in the dosa batter is converted by fermentation to more nutritious proteins, it is a healthy food for us, especially for those who are diabetic. The glycaemic index which is a measure of how fast a food raises our blood sugar, is low in fermented foods.
What happens if urad dal is more in idli dosa batter
Urad dal is a super food so the more urad dal in idli dosa batter, the healthier it is. There is no fixed proportion of rice and urad dal for dosa, so you can vary the ratio of rice and urad dal for idli or dosa. The more urad dal there is in the idli dosa batter the better it is for health. Also with more urad dal in idli dosa batter you get softer idlis and tastier dosas. For a more healthy idli dosa mix, you can replace some of the rice in the dosa mix with oats. My recipe for idli dosa mix is equal parts of urad dal, rice and oats. It tastes as good as, if not better, than the idli or dosa you get in the best South Indian Restaurants.
Urad Dal prescribed in Ayurveda for pregnant women and for men’s sexual health problems
Urad Dal is known as ‘Masha’ in ancient Ayurvedic texts. Ayurveda considers Urad dal safe during pregnancy and is recommended as food of choice for pregnant women. Growing children could benefit from urad dal and it could make them clever and do better in their studies. Urad dal is good for diabetes and is recommended by Ayurveda medical science.
Ayurveda also says that Urad dal is good for men’s sexual health problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Modern medical research confirms the relation between urad dal and testosterone, the male hormone and thus confirms the benefits of urad dal which has been known to Ayurveda for thousands of years.
Why Idli Dosa batter not fermenting
There may be two reasons for idli dosa batter not rising or fermenting. First is that the climate is too cold. The good bacteria in the dosa batter requires a temperature of about 37.0 °C (98.6 °F) or about the same as our normal body temperature, to ferment the idly dosa batter properly. There are various methods of keeping the batter at the right temperature, like keeping the idly dosa maavu or batter inside an oven that was pre-heated and then put off prior to placing the Dosa maavu or batter inside the oven and keeping the oven light on overnight so that the heat from the oven bulb keeps the dosa batter warm.
Secondly the urad dal used in the batter may have been irradiated with Gamma radiation by the customs authorities in advanced countries. The urad dal has to be imported by these countries, since they do not grow it locally, and they irradiate all imported pulses to prevent weevils and such insects from entering their countries and destroying their food products. When anything is irradiated, it kills everything including the native yeasts and live probiotics in urad dal. Irradiation also kills the Urad beans or any other beans and they will not germinate or grow into plants. When you use such urad dal in the idli dosa mix it does not ferment and rise.
Urad Dal Substitute
In those countries like USA and Europe where all beans and dals imported into their country is subject to irradiation to kill all living things, you have to think of urad dal substitutes to start the fermentation process. You can of course use bakers yeast, which is available in packets in supermarkets, but to get the natural goodness of the natural yeasts and other good bacteria in beans, try to substitute urd dal with locally grown beans like Soya beans. Later on you can use some of this dosa batter made with soya beans as a starter fermenter for fresh dosa batter made with urad dal, just like you use some of the previous days yogurt to make new yogurt from fresh milk.
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