Friday, 26 November 2010

Never a daal moment

I'm often foxed by the unfamiliar names of faminilar things in Indian shops abroad (well, the US northeast. I'm not a well travelled woman), and this is particularly odd to non-subcontinental friends accompanying me. For surely, as an 'Indian', I should know the 'Indian' names of things.

I would if I could, of course, but for the tiny glitch that there IS no such language as 'Indian'. Half the nation's 'diversity'-related 'issues' would probably have been solved if there was, and we would all have been reduced to a homogeneous unilingual country with delusions of difference. But while I laud difference and diversity and hold it's flag flying high, it does present some difficulties with food-shopping and even recipe-writing.

For example, I want to say, "Take a fistful of orohor daal". I say it, but I can't leave it at that. I have to then google to find out what is the commonest pan-Indian name for orohor daal, by what name it's best known in the English-speaking world, what vagaries of my own people should I remember to explain (eg: Bengalis call kaali daal tarka daal, and neither of those phrases mean anything to my friends abroad)...

It gets tedious.

So I'm going to make a list, right here, right now. I'm going to include the Bengali (and wherever possible, Hindi; my knowledge of Indian languages extends no further) names of spices and grams. Vegetables are fine -- I frequently use their English names anyway and they don't confuse me. But the spices and rich array of beans/grams need to be ordered. Now.

Daal is a funny word to translate, because not only does it refer to the dish, in Bengali it also refers to a whole host of things used to make daal. Most of these fall into the legume family -- standard source of non-animal protein -- but as children, we were to taught identify them separately. For example, mushur (masoor) daal is a lentil. Rajma is a bean. Urad daal is a gram (which Wikipedia tells me I should call a pulse). I'm going to list everything I can remember cooking, which falls under the local category of 'daal':

Mushur daal -- masoor. Red lentils (although really they are more orange).

Gota Moog (whole moog) -- moong. Mung beans. Green gram.
Moog daal (de-husked, split moog) -- moong daal. Golden gram. Golden yellow inside green husk.

Chhola or chaana -- channa. Bengal gram or Indian chickpea. Dark, small, rough-skinned. There's an European variety that is much drier/harder.
Kabuli chhola -- chhole. I don't know what this is called in English. White, larger, much softer kind of chickpea.
Chholar daal -- de-husked and split Kabuli chhola. Light yellow inside white husk.

See this for pictures of all three types of chhola (Bengal, European, Kabuli).

Kolai er daal -- whole urad. Black gram/ lentils (not to be confused with black turtle beans, the South American frijoles negro).
Biulir daal -- de-husked, split urad. No English name. It's split black gram, white inside black husk.

Orohor daal -- arhar, toor, tuvar. Red gram, split pigeon peas.

While raajma (rajma. Red kidney beans) is not considered a daal at all, it IS considered a popular bean by lots of people, so I'm adding it to the list.


Abhishek Mukherjee said...

Did you ever realise that
Hindi for koraishnuti is matar,
Hindi for motor is chhola,
Hindi for chhola is chana?

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

I'd love to call Kabuli chhola Afghan chickpea. :)

Rimi said...

Shaadhe ki aar Bangalir Hindi aeki hashykor upobhasha. Eto confuse korle bolbe ki kore?
Ei jonnoi jonoiko Bangali mohapurush bole gaechhen, "tum Hindi mein bolta ko kya bolta?"

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

Are, bhabte parbena. Prothom Delhi gechhi, autoy uthechhi, confidently bollam, "us bus-stop ke aage utarna hai", o dibyi bus-stop chhariye namalo.

AAGE mane PORE? X(

And I shall never forget those ^%*^%&^$% vendors in the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh stations who tempt us with "shingara" and end up selling paniphols, of all things.

Rimi said...

YES! Ei 'shingara=paniphol' case ta amar shaatheo hoyechhe. Late train, prochondo khide peyechhe, tokhon jodi keu shingarar lobh dekhiye paniphol dhoraye, ichhe kore na aek chawr e tar kaan Kanpur e pathate?

Nehat lomba-chowra mushko chehara, tai paar peye gyalo.

Magically Bored said...

For the longest time, I was confused about kidney beans. I had Chilli Corn Karne (made of mincemeat and kidney beans) in Delhi, and it was so yummy - but I didn't make the connection until months later that 'kidney beans' and 'rajma' were one and the same. :P

Dea-chan said...

I think your Kabuli chhola are just called chickpeas. I friggin hate 'em.

And I don't know as the kolai er daal are available around here. Certainly the turtle beans are.

Rimi said...

Tuna--I know! I frequently confused the names of urad and gota moog. I used to have to call my mum and ask her what colour and texture each daal was before I could buy some.

T--oh honey, someone needs to make you chickpeas Bengali style. We cook it in a thick broth, not too spicy, with tiny chopped potatoes. And we eat them with poori or parathas. *So* good.

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

But then, Hindi is the best language for khisti. If you don't believe me, try saying dog, kukur and kuttey, and you'd know what I mean.

Rimi said...

:D :D

Sachinky said...

I think those are called Garbanzo beans.

Dea-chan said...

ha! done!

panu said...

achha what about kalomusur? i.e. un-husked musurdal? MISS!

panu said...

also khesharir daal. Jani its not healthy, but its available.

Rodosee said...

Had to add a little more tadka to linguistic confusion. Along same lines as the shingara/paniphol, imagine my horror when I complacently inquire after the price of sitaphal (ie custard apple, aata) in bazaar near JNU, only to be quoted very small change --- and be handed huge old pumpkin! terrible, these Hindi-speakers that refuse to make uniform a language they insist on calling by one name!

@panu: gota musoor is simply whole lentils, or brown lentils (for the greyish-brown, though there's a more green-ish Puy lentil too, a close cousin and usually susbtitutable in most recipes).

khesari'r dal is more interesting. It is a type of vetch, not a true lentil (common English for plants in the Lens genus, though some include peas, Pisum, under it commonly). We ascribe the wrong problems to it traditionally, though. It attacks brain tissue rather than eyes (tradition ascribes blindness to it). More on this hairy non-bean here:

Rodosee said...

er, ulp! abject apologies for error in last post. In fact, khesari'r dal is Indian vetch --- just checked (that'll teach me to post before i search!), and it's from the genus Lathyrus, NOT Vicia. It stands accused of causing lathyrism, in this case emaciation of the buttocks! But apparently, the Italians used to consider a delicacy traditionally... Have to wonder, though, given similarity of forms and the instances of true vetches being sold (erroneously or dupliticiously) as lentils, whether confusion between the two kinds could have given khesari'r dal the bad name that got it banned in some states

Rimi said...

Panu, I was going to bite my lips about the miss, but then I've never cooked kalo mushur, and this post is explicitly about daals I've made.

Then again, as Rodosee says, it is substitutable :D

M--thank you that very in-depth analysis. People have scared me stiff about khesharir daal ever since I was a little girl. Eyes and brains are just as precious as the other, so I'm guessing I'll just skip it :-)

kaichu said...

ai, what aboot matar-er daal? ota toh kothao dekhlam na? they look almost the same as chholar dal kancha oboshthya-e, but taste VERY different.