Beans, Dhals and Lentils: Ayurvedic Sources of Protein

For vegetarians, beans, dhals and lentils constitute an important source of nutrition — they provide protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins. As versatile as they are tasty, dhals and lentils lend themselves to being used to make salads, appetizers, soups, main dishes, sides and even dessert. They work well with other foods such as grains, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Mung beans, split, with skins removed (also known as mung dhal), are held to be excellent for all three doshas. Easier to digest than most other beans and dhals, mung dhal can be eaten every day. When cooked, mung dhal takes on the consistency of porridge. This dhal is praised in ayurvedic texts for its nutritional value and ease of digestion.

If you have access to an Indian grocery store, here are some other Indian dhals you can try:

  • Toor dhal — yellow, very nourishing, combines extremely well with vegetables.
  • Chana dhal — also yellow, retains its shape even when fully cooked, and has a nutty flavor.
  • Urad dhal — found split and hulled, or split with the skins on.

Some tips for cooking with dhals and lentils:

  • Store dry beans and dhals in dry, airtight containers at room temperature.
  • Try to use dhals and lentils within six months — the older they get, the longer they take to soak and cook because of lost moisture.
  • Sort dhals, beans and lentils before use — you may find an occasional small stone you'll want to remove before cooking.
  • Rinse several times before you cook.
  • Some beans need soaking to aid the cooking process.
  • Do not add salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice until the beans or dhals are cooked.
  • Ayurveda recommends eating beans, dhals and lentils that are well-cooked for easy digestion.
  • Adding spices such as cumin, black pepper and ginger to dhals and beans helps the process of digestion.


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Mung Dhal

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The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.