Vigna mungo, black gram or black lentil (commonly referred to as urad dal in India) originated in India and is a highly prized pulse in India. Its cultivation is highly valued due to its numerous benefits.
It is largely used in Indian traditional medicine (Ayurveda) for a number of health benefits. Modern pharmacological research has also shown that it has properties of boosting the immune system.
- Urad dal or black gram forms an important part of menus in day to day and festive cuisine of almost all parts of India. The various forms of urad dal which are used in numerous Indian festivals are Vada (uzhunnu vada) and avial (made during pongal festival in Tamilnadu).
- The most popular dishes of South India, Dosas, chutneys, and papads are all made of Urad dal.
Indian preparations use ginger, garlic and spices like asafetida not only to enhance taste, but also to make it more digestible.
- Along with being a delicious food, it has enormous nutritive value. Exceptionally rich in proteins, it also has Vitamins B- thiamine, riboflavin and niacin; Vitamin C, iron, calcium, crude fibers and starch.
Herbal home remedies
- Black gram or urad dal not only has health benefits but it also has some useful skin rejuvenating and nourishing properties.
- In ancient India, urad dal was used as beauty aid, especially as a scrub to massage the body.
- A few herbal home remedies utilizing urad dal for various medicinal benefits are:
- A paste made out of soaked urad dal and almonds, is applied on face and kept for thirty minutes after which it is washed off. This is a useful remedy in nourishing the skin and removing the effects of unwanted tanning, thus improving complexion.
- Black gram flour along with green gram paste is an efficacious home remedy for strengthening the hair and treatment of dandruff.
- A decoction of black gram is widely used in India for promoter of digestive system. It is helpful in the cure of dyspepsia, gastric catarrh, dysentery and diarrhea.
- A decoction of black gram boiled with sesame oil and rock salt is beneficial in rheumatic inflammations and knee contractions, when applied externally.
- Urad dal is fried in ghee till its color changes to light brown, and then grinded to make a powder. 2 spoons of this powder mixed with a pinch of cardamom powder and sugar according to taste, if taken twice in a day (morning and night) helps in increasing the sperm count in males.
- Black gram is soaked in water for 6-7 hours, and then after soaking it is fried in ghee and eaten with honey is a remedy for sexual dysfunctions in males.
- 30 gram of washed urad dal fried in ghee and made into a pudding (kheer) with 300 ml of milk and sugar, if taken hot is efficacious in enhancing your sexual potency.
- Urad dal as a regular part of your diet is a great remedy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men.
- Germinated black gram, taken with a half a cupful of fresh bitter gourd (karela) and a teaspoonful of honey, once a day for four months is helpful for diabetic patients. This should be taken with a restriction of carbohydrates in the diet.
- Black gram as regular part of the diet is known to strengthen the womb in women.
- In southern parts of India, dishes made of black gram and linseed are useful for delayed menarche, painful menstruation etc.
Traditional medicinal properties of Black gram
- Black gram is known to be a demulcent, aphrodisiac and a nerve tonic. It increases reproductive fluid, gives strength to body, increases lactation, and serves as an effective laxative.
- As per Ayurvedic texts it is effective in purish kshya (a state in which stool is not formed properly). It increases pitta and kapha dosha, while pacifies vata dosha.
A storehouse of energy
Urad dal or black gram has rich stores of iron while being low in calorie and fats. Since iron is a vital component of hemoglobin, it is essential for body’s metabolism and energy production. It is especially good for menstruating women.
Black gram is a rich source of protein and hence helpful for the overall development of the body and in the strengthening and building of muscle mass.
Urad dal is rich in fiber content and hence enhances digestion. It has both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, thus serving the dual purpose of quickening the digestion process as well as in preventing constipation and increasing the bulk of the stool.
Good for heart
Black gram is helpful in reducing cholesterol. It boosts healthy heart. It has rich content of magnesium and folate that prevent damage to the walls of the arterial walls. Magnesium boosts cardiovascular health through increasing blood circulation.
- Urad dal is also known to fight against pancreatic cancer.
- Black gram or urad dal is used in the prevention or treatment of a number of diseases:
- Urad dal is helpful in diabetics as it is low in glycemic index.
- It is used in the treatment of sexual dysfunction in males such as impotency, premature ejaculation, and thinness of semen.
- In the treatment of nervous disorders like nervous weakness, memory loss, schizophrenia, and hysteria.
- In the cure of rheumatic problems such as contracted knee and stiff shoulder.
- It is also associated with the treatment of cough and acidity in the body.
- It is considered a remedy for diseases like facial or partial body paralysis.
Drawbacks of excessive use of urad dal
Two points to remember while indulging your taste buds in urad dal are:
- It is high in purines, which is converted to uric acid. Accumulation of uric acid in the joints causes redness and inflammation consequently leading to arthritis and gout. So those with rheumatism or uric acid in urine should not consume urad dal.
- It may cause flatulence; therefore it is recommended to add asafetida, pepper, and ginger while preparing it for medicinal purposes to make its digestion better.
Home beauty tips using black gram
Urad dal pack for removing sunburns and tanning
Grind urad dal soaked overnight in water, mix with curd or yoghurt and applied to affected parts in the body for 15 minutes and then wash off. It can be repeated every alternate day.
Urad dal pack for back acne and prickly heat rashes
Masoor dal (red lentils) powder, urad dal powder and dried orange peel powder is mixed in equal quantities and made a paste with cucumber juice. Apply this on the affected area, leave it till dry and then wash off.
Urad dal hair pack for hair nourishment
Urad dal powder, egg yolk and lemon juice are mixed in yoghurt and applied on hair and left for 4 hours after which it is washed off. The hair are conditioned and nourished.
Urad dal hair pack for split ends
Grind urad dal with fenugreek seeds to a coarse powder and mix with curd or yoghurt and apply over the scalp. Wash the hair after 1-2 hours, and it is good for split ends.
- Lad U, Lad V. Ayurvedic cooking for self-healing, Motilal Banarasidas Publisher, 2005.
- Lim KT. Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants. Springer, 2012.