Pulses are another staple in Indian cooking. In fact Indian cuisine is famous for its Dal makhani and Dal fry. They are an extremely healthy and nutritious. Pulses are also a great source of protein. I make sure I add them to my diet atleast twice a week.

Pulses are usually available in three types- whole, split and split with skin removed.

I remember being very confused by the type and varieties of pulses used in cooking. Infact I had to literally take a class from my aunt to get to identify the types of pulses by their color and shapes.

So here I will try to give a review as well as pictures of the common types of pulses. I may have missed a few. I have listed the most basic pulses used in Indian household.

  • Mung Dal – (Tamil:Siru parpu) They come in two types : whole and split. Whole is green in color and split is yellow. They are used in savoury and sweet dishes as whole or sprouted. Pressure cooker time – 7 to 10 min./ 3 whistles


  • Urad Dal – (Tamil:Ulundhu)This type is also called black dal or ulundhu in tamil. It is used in the famous dal makhani. They are used whole with skin peeled off for making dosa batter also.
  • Chickpea – (Tamil:Konda kadalai)Also called Chana dal or garbanzo beans. The common chana types used are desi chana(black and small) and kabuli chana(big and white). Kabuli or white chana is used to make channa masala. The desi chana is mostly used in kerala as a side dish for puttu. These pulses are mostly soaked overnight to reduce cooking time. Pressure Cooker time : 15 minutes/ 4-5 whistles
  • Masoor Dal – It  is a brown skinned lentil that is orange on the inside.It is mostly used to make dals, soups and stews. Commonly used in north India. Pressure Cooker time : 9 minutes/ 7 whistles



  • Toor Dal – (Tamil:Tuvaram parpu, Hindi: Tuvar) This dal variety is most commonly used in making sambar in south India. It is also used in gujarati cuisines. It is yellow in color,flat and has a nutty flavour. Pressure Cooker time: 10 minutes/ 4whistles.toor


  • Vada Lentil – These lentils are a type of toor dal variety mostly used in south indian snack called parupu vada. They look similar to toor dal but are more rounder and bigger. A close look will tell you the difference.

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  • Kidney Bean (Hindi: rajma)-Kidney beans have a strong earthy flavor and nice silky texture. They are made into a delicious curry simply called rajma. It is delicious eaten with rice. It is important to note that kidney beans can be toxic if not cooked properly. They must be pre-soaked and boiled for at least 30 minutes to ensure they are safe for eating. Do not cook them in the slow cooker because that multiplies their toxicity. Pressure Cooker Time :15 minutes/ 6 whistles.


  • Black-eyed pea (also known as cow pea, Hindi: lobia, Gujarati: chora). Black-eyed peas have a distinctive flavor and are an all around pulse in Indian cuisine. They’re used to make curries, dals, papads and fritters.



Note :

  1. If your pulses are old, they can take double the time to cook. If they haven’t softened in the time indicated, don’t worry. Just cook until soft. Make sure to add more water as needed.
  2. In the cases where soaking is optional, if you soak the pulses, it will reduce the cooking time.
  3. Before you cook the pulses, sift through them to take out any pebbles or debris. Then rinse them a few times.
  4. Water: If you are cooking on the stovetop or slow cooker, use about 3 to 4 times the water. In the pressure cooker, two times the water will do. Always keep an eye on the stove and add more water if it starts to look dry.