Urad dal good for health, black gram dal health benefits
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. 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.
The scientific name of Urad dal is 'Vigna Mungo'. 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 bodies 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 nutrition
Urad dal is a prebiotic food. Prebiotics is about food ingredients like complex starch and soluble fibre which cannot be digested with our normal digestive process, but require 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 nutrition 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.
Gas problems with Urad Dal in idli Dosa
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.
Dosa is good for health
Dosa is one of 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 dosa is a 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.
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. 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.