Bengal gram dal

(Kadala parippu/Kadalai paruppu)

This has a rust colored skin and is larger than other lentils. Its texture is firmer than chickpeas and has a nutty flavor. When ground without skins, the flour is called kadala mauve or kadala podi in Kerala or besan in north India. 

Black chickpeas


Smaller than the popular white chickpeas, they have a firm texture and a nutty flavor which makes them popular. When skinned and dry roasted, they are known as odacha kadala or pottu kadala. 

Roasted black chickpeas

(Odacha kadala/Odacha kadala)

These are skinned and dry roasted black chickpeas. 

Black gram


A small black bean with white insides, has a definite earthy flavor. When skinned, it is known as urud dal. 

Green gram or mung beans

(Cherupayaru/Pacha payaru)

These are often sprouted and eaten in salads. These small, olive colored beans have flat, yellow insides. 

Green gram dal

(Cherupayaru paruppu/Pacha payaru paruppu)

This is skinned and split green gram with flat, yellow insides. 



These lentils have a brown skin and an orange inside and are widely used across India.

Orange lentils

(Masoor dal/Masoor dal)

Salmon-colored, they taste like toor dal but cook, without soaking, in a fraction of the time. They are skinned masoor dal and have an earthy flavor and a creamy texture. 

Red beans

(Mun payar or Chokapu payar/Sigappu karamani)

A deep red kidney-shaped bean, they have a full - bodied flavor and a soft, nutty texture. They take a long time to cook. 

Toor dal or red gram

(Thuvara paruppu/Tuavara paruppu)

This is the most popular lentil in India even though it takes longer to cook than other lentils. It has a tan skin with a pale yellow pea inside. The meaty, nutty texture is perfect for spicy dishes.

Urud dal

(Uzhunthu paruppu/Ulutham paruppu)

This is skinned black gram. The flavor of theses skinless beans is very mild. 

White chickpeas

(Vella kadala/Kabuli chana)

This variety of lentil is very popular in the United States due to its high level of protein and mild taste. It is larger than its cousin, black chickpea.

Lentils Used in South Indian Cooking

Lentils and beans are found in most south Indian dishes and can be found in most grocery stores as well as in Indian groceries. They are commonly sold whole, skinned or split. The term dal is used as the name of many lentil dishes as well as the term for lentils that have been skinned and split.

The Malayalam and Tamil names for each type of lentil are also provided. 

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