Is Yellow Dal Safe?


Have you ever cooked the Indian beans called yellow mung dal? Dal means "bean". Mung (also spelled Moong) is known as green gram.

The yellow dal we can purchase in Indian groceries is green gram (mung dal) that is split with the outer green hull stripped off. It is considered a very healthy food in Ayurveda. The combination of rice plus yellow dal is considered almost ideal.

However, I have been questioning that opinion for a while. My first reason for quesitoning it was simply from the whole food perspective. We know that whole grains have more nutrients than refined grains. Is that same thing true for "refined" beans? Split yellow mung dal is certainly refined compared to whole green mung dal (green gram). Ayurveda says that the yellow dal is easier to digest (and a great variety of health problems can be traced back to subtly incomplete digestion).

However, prior to resolving that question, I have found a new reason to doubt the split yellow dal I have been buying at my local Indian grocery store. When I wash it, it creates endless soap-like bubbles. My logic is that they must use a strong chemical or soap to remove the outer green hull. They probably soak the beans in this chemical when they strip off the hull. Whatever it is, it will not go away by simply washing the yellow dal.

Try it yourself and let me know if you see the same thing. Put some dal in a strainer. Sit the strainer on a container or pot so that the mesh holding the dal is inside the pot. Fill the pot with water, and then use your sink sprayer to wash the dal vigorously. When I do this, I see a lot of bubbles and a foam substance that resembles dirty sea foam. No matter how many times I rinse the dal, the foaming continues.

When I cook the dal, boiling it produces more foam and bubbles. At first I wondered if this were due to a property of the bean. However, when I wash and cook whole green dal, none of this foaming happens. There are no soapy bubbles either.

I have tried several brands of yellow dal (my Indian grocery sells a few different brands) and I have tried several brands of green dal. The comparison was the same as I described above in each case.

Furthermore, it is impossible as far as I can tell to get organic yellow dal at this time. However, I have a couple sources for organic green dal. My favorite source is Purcell Mountain Farms at this link.

Even though I do not yet know if whole green dal has more nutrients or more fiber (I am guessing it does), I have decided to stop eating split yellow dal because of the soapy/foamy stuff I see when I rinse, it together with the fact that I can only get organic dal in the whole green type.

I cook the green dal well and I feel that I am able to digest it just fine. However, I do realize that the topic of complete digestion in Ayurveda is very, very subtle. It has little to do with issues like indigestion, and everything to do with extracting the subtle qualities from the foods. So this issue remains open to further research. If I find out something new about complete digestion in Ayurvedic terms that convinces me removing the hull has value that offsets the loss of nutrients - and if I can get yellow dal that is free of chemicals or soaps, I'll revisit my decision. But for now - it is only whole green dal for me.


See part two here:

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After reading every post I'm

After reading every post I'm convinced... organic split mung dal is the way to go... but where to get it?

where do you think soap comes

where do you think soap comes from? it comes from plants

you don't have to worry at all

there is absolutely zero safety concerns

as for the nutrients, maybe you do get more nutrients with the skin, but the consider that the additional fiber interferes with absorption and it is probably 6 of one half dozen of the other

One other thought about the

One other thought about the foam is that, as one person pointed out, oil is used to loosen the green part. Oil emulsifies and also has that foamy look. When I wash my dal I just cover the dal in the cooking pot with water and swish it around and pour off the water. I repeat this about five times or until the water looses it's milkiness. It still foams up and needs skimming off but there's a lot less.
And you can buy organic moong dal. I wouId assume that by organic that means that the oil used to loosen the skin is also organic so there would be no toxic residue. I ordered a 25 # bag from Everybody's in Fairfield Iowa.

We all are very much concern

We all are very much concern about the foaming of the dal, likewise this happens to all the series of beans produce.Whether it's safe to consume the dal varies with every individual. It goes on the same for every other food stuff that we eat as everyone has different reaction to each intake.
So, whether it's dal or other food, we need to know it's process,it's origin, cultivation to it's end product. After looking at all the commence and feed back, I can truly see that there are a lot of expert with very in depth knowledge of food.
But to the last we still need food to survive, you have a choice to choose whether to eat or not to eat. But most importantly you need a good body immune system in order to detox and to expel it from your body. Remember that our body are created to be able to do wonders, just feed it correctly with the proper diet, have a good and balance emotion and adequate exercise.
Bear in mind also that all these food were created naturally for our body and it's definitely that our cells are able to absorb the best and discard the unwanted from our body.That's preferably the produce are organic and natural, but I guess it's very difficult to find something that is pure organic, right?

just shut your mouth

just shut your mouth

yes, a great question...I

yes, a great question...
I tried soak green mung in the hopes that the skins would fall off, but after 4-5 days, the bean's character has changes (turning into a sprout) and it felt less digestible.

I am wondering if we can improvise some kind of machine to hull our own mung...that way it would be freshest

wow, you people are amazing,

wow, you people are amazing, as is the Net
just came in from the kitchen, having discarded an unusual amount of foam from my split masoor (orange dhal)
I had a thought, was I discarding nutrients along with the thick foam (at least 6 rinses plus more on boiling)and typed in "foam dhal"
and there you all were!
I am not quite sure if the arguments for/against had enough weightage for me to change the family dietary patterns (whole masoor for biryani, split with coconut, etc...)
but I am so glad there is a discussion on about this

I've taken organic whole mung

I've taken organic whole mung beans, split them by hand with a mortar and pestle and when cooking them, get the 'foamy stuff' - so I believe its not the commercial hulling of the beans, but an inherent property of the beans..

My asana teacher, who is the Indian born son of an ayurvedic physician, told me that it is this 'foamy' stuff that causes gas that we associate with beans of all types. He scoops it off as it cooks. When you cook with whole beans, the 'foamy' stuff stays trapped inside the bean for the most part and you eat it.

Another reason to eat the split dal/white rice is that the fibre from the skins can irritate the intestinal lining, leading to a whole number of common western health problems. I was hard core whole grain for a long time, and its taken two years for my body to heal.

Hi omammamoon,Thanks for your

Hi omammamoon,
Thanks for your helpful feedback. I believe you are right about the foam. But I don't think that is the end of the story.

After years of searching I finally found a source for organic yellow split dal. Now I have three types to compare against each other:
1. yellow dal from my local Indian grocery
2. yellow dal from (Dr. Lad) - not organic
3. organic yellow dal

I have found that there is a big difference. I am now convinced that the yellow dal from my local Indian grocery, which is imported from India, has a yellow coloring agent added to it.

When one rinses the dal, if you catch the water, look at the color of the water. After washing the organic dal, the water is about the color one would expect. After washing the imported dal, the water is a bright orange or yellow. It is so full of color and so bright that I have to suspect coloring was added to the dal to make the beans look more yellow. My suspicion seems to be confirmed now that I have compared the organic dal.

I may take photographs and post the results in a new blog article.

Hi - I was interested in your

Hi - I was interested in your comments about the safety of split mung dal and asked a wholesaler of organic rice and dal the question and he sent the following:

The process (of splitting the dal) is to wet the whole mung with water or oil for a while, to loosen the outer layer. Then the whole bean is passed through rollers to split the beans.
There is no chemical used in the process.

I hope this is helpful and enjoyed your comments.

Judy-Thanks for your comment.

Judy-Thanks for your comment. I have continued to repeat my rinsing experiment over the last 6 months, and the results are the same. I have tested this dozens of times over these months.

In fact, just yesterday I cooked some split green peas I purchased from the Indian grocer. The results were the same as with the split yellow dal.

All the split beans or peas I purchase from the Indian grocery produce a lot of foam when rinsed the way I described above. The whole beans & peas I purchase at the organic grocery do not produce that foam.

We can take the word of a person who has a vested interest or we can test it ourselves. So far no one has left a comment mentioning whether they have repeated my rinsing test.

Here is the test I described:

"Put some dal in a strainer. Sit the strainer on a container or pot so that the mesh holding the dal is inside the pot. Fill the pot with water, and then use your sink sprayer to wash the dal vigorously. When I do this, I see a lot of bubbles and a foamy substance that resembles dirty sea foam."

I have found that if I repeatedly rinse AND soak, the excess foam will eventually go away.

I have considered the possibility that the foam may be the result of the beans being soaked in oil. The link (broken now, unfortunately) that Todd posted in a comment above described exactly that process (using oil). However, that doesn't make me feel any better about this issue because I can almost guarantee that the oil would be rancid/unedible.

I'm sticking with whole green dal from my organic grocer.

Split legumes and pulses will

Split legumes and pulses will always foam considerably more because their skins are removed, which essentially leaves the kernel exposed. Exposure is not deterimental at all, however, it makes gas-inducing sugars and carbs escape more easily. This is why split ones foam more than whole, and as you noticed, the foaming will subside with each wash. Also why split beans/legumes/pulses are easier to digest than whole ones.

It's important to distinguish that soap is not the only bubble forming agent - particularly in beans, their own gases are enough to form loads of bubbles within or without our body.

As I'm sure you know, ALWAYS soak all beans - whole or split - and NEVER use the soaking water to cook because it's full of gas-causing agents. The longer whole beans soak, the easier they are to digest.

Also, there's a reason why Indians particularly combine certain foods and spices - I always wondered why a piece of smashed ginger (not grated, just smashed enough to release juice) is added while cooking any whole bean and then discarded at the end, because that piece of ginger doesn't add much flavour. Then I learnt that ginger neutralizes the gas formed while beans cook, which facilitates digestibility of beans. This is also why Indians generally have a piece of dried, salted ginger after a meal or a few fennel seeds. Nowadays most people dismiss these post-prandial edibles off as optional mouth-fresheners because they DO pleasantly freshen the mouth after a meal, but in reality they are meant to be helpful digestives.

Ayurveda is a lifestyle (not just diet or medicine) developed around integrating natural properties of foods with natural properties of each person to make the most beneficial combination, and that is why there is no one blanket Ayurvedic diet applicable for everyone.

So in summary, you will always see more foaming with split beans than with whole, and that's just the way nature is!

Payal - thanks for the good

Payal - thanks for the good input. Maybe I'll try my experiment with organic split dal.

Also, I wonder about stability of the split beans. When the kernel is exposed, not only are the sugars exposed but the fatty acids are exposed as well. This makes split beans more susceptible to oxidative damage. Given that oxidative damage is at the root of aging and many diseases (even according to Ayurveda), it makes sense to reduce free radicals in the foods we eat. Split beans certainly will not have less free radicals than whole beans. The principles of chemistry indicates that split beans will have a lot more free radicals.

Anyway, this topic continues to interest me and I appreciate all the feedback.

I have read your story with

I have read your story with great interest but wonder where you found the organic split mung dhal. Can you share your source, please?

I wonder where you found the

I wonder where you found the organic split mung dhal. Can you share your source, please?

Well, its obvious that the

Well, its obvious that the skin must contain additional nutrients. That's common sense - so why go for the inferior version (ie. split dal?)

I am about to make the same change in dal too - when I run out of the previously stocked yellow mung dal.

Oh & obviously rice must be unpolished - red or brown : )

@yogi: The debate about

@yogi: The debate about hulled & split dal vs whole dal (and white rice vs whole grain rice) stems from the fact that many ayurvedic physicians here in the US are recommending the split dal and white rice in spite of the fact that it is known to contain less nutrients (such as fiber, B-Vitamins, etc.). These ayurvedic practitioners claim it is easier to digest and therefore better. It sounds like you and I both disagree with this. This is one instance where it helps to combine the ancient knowledge with modern science.

@Dave As far as food that is

As far as food that is easy to digest goes - yoga classifies food into 3 categories (sattvic, rajasic, tamasic) I'm sure you know about that.

And even in the sattvic category, it states that all dals are difficult to digest except mung dal. The others lead to excess protein that in turn leads to autointoxication because it cant be digested. I can testify to this from personal experience --whenever I ate either black gram (Phaseolus mungo) or bengal gram (also known as chickpea, garbanzo in the US) , I suffered from mild cases of constipation & my bowel movement was disrupted.

I am sure you already know that a healthy human has a bowel movement immediately following every big meal - if not, you can bet that constipation is involved. And besides meals & their times, much much more is involved (ie sleep, exercise, emotions, etc) ---and constipation is one of the primary & immediate indicators that the body is signalling about something going wrong.

Anyway rajasic food really depends on the lifestyle one has - if it does involve heavy duty physical labor like construction workers, then the above things are ok. But usually we all have sedentary deskjobs which are much worse in terms of various factors (erratic meal times, dangerous levels of stationary positions leading to rsi injuries, etc)

probably its the

probably its the saponins
legumes and many plants contain significant amounts of saponins - for e.g. licorice root also bubbles up as well when making a decoction

but instead of just guessing, why not do the research and see what methods are used in processing mung dhal?

for e.g.

no mention of detergents

@todd: thanks for the link!

@todd: thanks for the link! Very pertinent. I agree that this issue deserves some more research.

Wouldn't you think that if the soapy stuff were due to saponins, the green dal would have a little of the same behavior? I would not be suspicious of yellow dal if green dal had even a little bit of this quality. But green dal has zero "soapy/foamy stuff" under the same rinsing and cooking conditions. That's what made me suspicious. Before I starting eating green dal, I assumed what I was seeing was due to something like the saponins. Now, I'm not so sure. But you can be sure I'll try to find out more, and I appreciate your link!

As I'm sure you know, many food manufacturers will not openly mention the use of agents like detergents, even when they are part of the processing.

One example might be the use of a caustic such as sodium hydroxide for refining the seed oils which are used in snack foods and in restaurants. The caustic produces a soap which then has to be removed from the oil. But the only ingredient we see mentioned anywhere is the oil.

BTW, I would appreciate any other links on the topic that you find. Thanks for your input.