Chana Dal also known as the Split Bengal Gram is closely related to the chickpea family. It is yellow lentil, rounded on one side and flat on the other. Bengal gram is one of the earliest cultivated variety of legumes. In Indian cuisine, it is popularly known as Chana Dal. Chana Dal is one of the most popular ingredients of Indian cuisine. India is one of the leading cultivator of Bengal gram.
Chana Dal is delicious, nutritious and easily digestible. Apart from being used in soups, salads, curries, Dal preparations, savories, sweets and rice dishes, the legumes are also roasted and powdered into chickpea flour (besan), another ingredient that is widely used in almost every part of India. As a legume, chickpeas or chana helps us in two ways: these nutty beans are rich in a number of important nutrients including vitamins and minerals and they also provide high fiber.
In north-west India especially in Bihar and Jharkhand roasted or fried chanas are grinded into a powder called Sattu that is used as a summer drink when dissolved in water and is also used in what is called litti that is eaten with chokha.
One cup of boiled chickpeas has 270 calories, 45g of carbohydrates, 4g of fat, 15g of protein and 13g of fibre. They also meet 70% of the daily requirement for foliate and 22% of DV for iron.
Culinary Uses :
- This is actually a type of split lentil and is frequently used in Indian cooking technique as a thickener.
- It has a savoring flavor and aroma.
- Combined with rice and roti, it provides the essential amino acids for protein synthesis.
- It is best to soak these beans overnight or at least for a few hours, so it will cook faster.
- If you do not like eating raw vegetables, then cook them with chana dal.
- Coarsely crushed chana dal is used in dhokla or handwa, for a crunchy texture and increases the nutritional value.
- Bengal gram is often stewed with vegetables, especially bitter gourds and squashes.
- Chana Dal with spinach and bottle gourd are popular combinations.
- Chana dal is high in fibre and helps to lower cholesterol.
- Apart from having a great taste, it also has a very low glycemic index, which is important for diabetic patients.
- Chana dal is a good source of zinc, folate, calcium and protein.
- It is low in fat and most of it is polyunsaturated.
- Since Bengal gram is a protein-rich supplement, it is considered a popular alternative for animal or meat protein.
- Regular consumption of Bengal gram helps in reducing protein malnutrition.
- Chana dal is good for diabetic patients as it has a low glycaemic index. Type one diabetic patients who consume high fibre diets have lower blood glucose levels and type two diabetic patients will improve blood sugar level by its consumption.
- Bengal gram reduces hair fall making the hair healthy.
- Bone health: Iron, phosphate, calcium Manganese, Zinc and vitamin K content present in Chana Dal contribute to building and maintaining bone strength and structure.
- Heart Health: High fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B 6 contents contribute in building a healthy heart.
- Anti cancer: Selenium, not found in most of the fruits and vegetables is found in chickpeas or Chana. It plays a pivotal role in liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some carcinogens in the body. Its foliate plays a role in DNA synthesis and helps in preventing formation of cancer cells. Saponins which are phytochemicals present in chana prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading in the body.
- Anti constipation: Because of high fibre content, chickpeas help prevent constipation and make bowel movement easier.
- Weight management: Dietary fibers rich in chickpeas increase satiety and reduce appetite making you feel fuller for longer period and lowers the calorie intake.