Bengal Gram: The power-packed tasty protein

  1. Introduction
  2. History
  3. How is Bengal Gram grown?
  4. Difference between organic and conventional (non-organic) Bengal Gram Dal or Chana Dal.
  5. Difference between polished and unpolished dal
  6. Choosing the best for your family
  7. What are the benefits of Bengal Gram? 

 a) Powerhouse of energy

b) Helps maintain healthy cardiac function

c) Helps to regulate blood sugar levels

d) Makes your hair healthy

e) Prevents skin breakouts & dryness

f) Aids weight-loss

g) Promotes healthy digestion and elimination

h) Good for bone health 

i) Scores big on women’s well-being


  1. How do I use Bengal Gram in cooking?
  2. How to store the dal?
  3. Does Bengal Gram produce gas in the body?
  4. Conclusion


    1. Introduction

    With its wholesome nutty flavour and earthy texture, Bengal Gram dal or Chana dal is a well-loved cereal across India’s rich palette of cuisine. Be it the comforting Dal with Jeera Tadka, scrumptious Puran Poli or a toasted Chana dal Chutney, it always stands a class apart. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, this scrumptious legume has a lot to offer.

    Let’s go ahead and learn more about what makes it so popular.


    1. History

    Belonging to the chickpea family, Bengal Gram is believed to have been one of the earliest legumes ever cultivated. First grown in Mediterranean Europe, the Bengal Gram crop gradually found its way to Afghanistan & and Persia in Asia at around the same time.

    Today, India is the biggest producer of Bengal Gram, contributing 86% of total global Bengal gram production during 2021-22!

    The Bengal Gram legume when whole, is dark brown with a rough coat and in this form is also called Kala Chana or Desi chana. Kala Chana itself is used in a variety of dishes including kala chana masala and roasted kala chana is a popular snack across India.

    When the Bengal Gram whole is hulled and split, it is called Bengal gram dal. The dal is yellowish orange in colour,

    Here in India, however, the name Bengal Gram Dal might not strike recognition.

    Here, Bengal Gram in Hindi is popularly known as chana dal.

    So, if you were wondering, are Chana Dal and Bengal Gram the same - the answer is that they are different versions of the same legume!

    When raw Chana Dal is ground into flour, it is called ‘besan’ which is also an everyday kitchen item in India.

    When chana dal is roasted first and then ground into flour, it is called Sattu, a popular ingredient, especially in Bihar, India.

    The Sanskrit name of Gram is “Chanaka” or chana, indicating the existence of a long relationship between India and Chana Dal.

    Today, the cultivation of the Bengal Gram crop extends across India - from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana in the north to Bihar in the east to Madhya Pradesh in central India, right up to Rajasthan and Maharashtra in the west. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and Mexico are its homes beyond Indian boundaries. It is believed that in the name Bengal Gram in English, “Bengal” points to the earliest British conquests in India while “Gram” comes from the Portuguese “grao”, meaning “grain”.


    1. How is Bengal Gram grown?

    Its generous roots need to plunge well into the soil to be able to flourish, so deep ploughing and harrowing are required in Bengal Gram fields. Once fully matured, the Bengal Gram crop is harvested and sun-dried for 5-6 days. Sticks are used to thresh the grains from the plant. The legume so harvested is then dehulled and split into two to make the yellow chana dal as we know it. To be able to identify it correctly, take a look at the Bengal Gram images available on Google!

    In India, both conventional (non-organic) and organic Bengal Gram are grown.

    1. Difference between organic and conventional (non-organic) Bengal Gram Dal or Chana Dal.

    Conventional Bengal Gram

    Conventional farming allows the use of toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and GMOs to increase Bengal Gram yield. The use of these chemicals not only has an adverse environmental impact (causing biodiversity loss, eroding soil fertility, and increasing water usage) but the toxic residue often left on the dal we buy also affects our health - it may disrupt hormone balance, cause neurological and developmental problems in children, and affect reproductive, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems in the long run.

    Organic Bengal Gram

    Organic Bengal Gram is farmed without the use of artificial pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, or GMOs. It is grown in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way using organic and biodynamic agricultural practices.

    The dal obtained vis organic farming is not only free from any toxic residue and environment friendly but is also more flavourful and nutrient dense. However, to ensure you are getting a truly organic dal, always check for organic certifications such as “JAIVIK BHARAT”, and “INDIA ORGANIC” mentioned on the packet. These Indian certifications confirm the organic origin of the dal.

    But the process doesn’t stop here. Many manufacturers further process the dal by polishing it.

    1. Difference between polished and unpolished dal

    Polished Dal

    After undergoing regular cleaning, de-hulling and splitting, many manufacturers polish the dal to increase its consumer appeal and increase its shelf life. The dal is polished in different ways, including methods like nylon polish, oil/water polish and leather polish. The result, the dal looks shiny and uniform in colour. But this polishing process not only exposes your dal to further adulterants like nylon polish but also strips it of its nutritive layers and significantly reduces its fibre content, thereby giving you less nutrition and flavour per buck.


    Unpolished dal 

    Unpolished dal means natural dal that has not been subjected to any polishing process. While the grain might not appear very shiny or uniform in colour, it is more nutritious, is natural fibre rich and bereft of any adulterant exposure.


    1. Choosing the best for your family

    When choosing any legume, pulse, dal or grain, opt for certified organic, unpolished products to enjoy optimal nutrition and authentic flavour.

    Organic India’s Bengal Gram dal or Chana Dal is certified organic and unpolished to retain its nutrition and authentic flavour. With both Indian & International organic certifications including “JAIVIK BHARAT”, and “INDIA ORGANIC”, certifications from Control Union, and SGS as per USDA, EU, and NPOP Organic Standards, we ensure our dal reaches from our farm to your plate free of toxic chemicals and pesticides, to support health and true wellness.


    1. What are the benefits of Bengal Gram?

    Its popularity across India makes you wonder what is Bengal Gram rich in or what are its health benefits.

    Nurturing, calming, and satisfying, Bengal Gram as we know it in English is the beloved dal of most Indian households. The fact that it is brimming with minerals and vitamins is a bonus! You need to know what exactly is Bengal Gram rich in to be able to make an informed choice. So let’s go ahead and take a look at the health benefits of Bengal Gram:


    a) Powerhouse of energy

    Considered a popular alternative to animal protein, Bengal Gram is a good vegan alternative for your protein requirement and also has a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, folic acid, and manganese and zinc. It is also a good source of the essential trace element molybdenum. It contains proteins, which aid the formation of new cells, helping to strengthen bones, balance haemoglobin levels and manage wear-and-tear of body cells. This dal also contains the amino acid methionine which helps to improve cell functioning and is rich in iron. It is also important in boosting your haemoglobin levels, thereby enhancing your energy and vitality.


    b)   Helps maintain healthy cardiac function

    Bengal Gram helps reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol in your body. So, the build-up of plaque in your arteries is reduced, thereby helping decrease your risk of several serious ailments such as heart disease and stroke. With its high potassium-low sodium content, Bengal Gram also aids in regulating your blood pressure levels, helping reduce the strain on your heart and giving cardiac health and function a boost.


    c) Helps to regulate blood sugar levels

    With a low glycemic index, Bengal Gram gets metabolized more slowly in our bodies and prevents insulin spikes. Being fibre rich, it also helps you feel full for longer, thereby helping to stabilize blood sugar levels and preventing unhealthy cravings. Besides, the rich magnesium content in Bengal Gram helps to lower insulin resistance, further helping to reduce your risk of metabolic disorders including diabetes, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease.


    d) Promotes hair health

    Brimming with protein, the building block of your hair, Bengal Gram can play a big role in helping you get a thick, healthy mane. It contains iron which helps to reduce the chances of hair fall. Also, high in folate, Bengal gram helps to enhance red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth and function, thereby boosting circulation and hair growth.


    e) Helps to prevent skin breakouts & dryness

    Bengal Gram is high in minerals like zinc, equipping this humble dal with some anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Including this dal as a part of your balanced diet can help keep skin disorders including acne and eczema in control, while also playing a role in keeping your skin youthful and nourished. Ground into flour as besan, chana dal already enjoys a great reputation as a topical face pack ingredient and is known to help exfoliate and nourish your skin to reduce blemishes and keep it firm and toned. So, make sure you include Bengal Gram as a part of your skincare ritual.  


    f) Helps keep weight in check

    Since it is relatively free from fat as well as cholesterol, Bengal Gram is a good meal option for those watching their weight. Besides, it is high in fibre which also helps you feel full, reducing the need for unnecessary mid-meal snacking. And since it is high in energy, having Bengal Gram as part of your limited diet also helps in resolving chronic fatigue and enhancing your stamina. So yes, you can reduce the piling kilos by including this super dal as a regular part of your diet.


    g)  Promotes healthy digestion and elimination

    With its rich fibre content, Bengal Gram helps to stimulate peristalsis (bowel movement) thereby doing its bit in relieving constipation and bloating as well ensuring regular elimination and detoxification. Constipation-related complications including piles, haemorrhoids, fissures or fistulas can also be reduced with regular consumption of fibre-rich dals like Bengal Gram.


    f)      Good for bone health

    The framework of our bodies - our bones - needs constant sustenance. Bengal Gram is naturally packed with the goodness of calcium. Also, the presence of minerals like phosphate and magnesium along with several vitamins aid in the absorption of calcium, thereby providing wholesome nutrition for our bones. In the long run, Bengal Gram can play a significant role in helping to keep our bones and teeth strong and reducing our risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.


    g) Scores big on women’s well-being

    Since it is a source of the all-important folate and iron, Bengal Gram is good for women during all stages of her lifecycle including menstruation & pregnancy and also when she is lactating. During pregnancy, Bengal Gram’s naturally rich folate content can help to prevent the risk of birth defects in the fetus’s brain and spinal cord. Also, folate and iron work together to aid in healthy red blood cell formation and function, thereby significantly reducing the incidence of anaemia in menstruating women.


    When there is such a vast range of benefits that promise to keep both your body and mind fit, it makes perfect sense to include Bengal Gram in your regular meal plan!  


    1. How do I use Bengal Gram in cooking?

    There is a plethora of cooking techniques for this deep-flavoured lentil – either as a main course, a snack or an accompaniment. You can soak it, boil it, pressure cook it or fry it, it’ll always stay as delicious and satisfying as ever! Here are some Bengal Gram recipes from across India that you can try in your kitchen:


    Traditional Bengal Gram Dal: As a regular dal cooked with turmeric powder (haldi), salt and water in a pressure cooker. Apart from the regular tadka, you can experiment with red chilli powder (lal mirch), garam masala powder, dry mango powder (amchur), coriander powder (dhania powder) or the aromatic dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) to bring in flavour twists.


    Bengal Gram Pancakes: Blend soaked Bengal Gram with chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves, spinach (palak) leaves, grated carrot (gajar), finely chopped French beans, a few curry leaves, finely chopped green chillies, finely chopped ginger (adrak), some curd (dahi), a pinch of fruit salt and salt to taste. Spread the batter on the tawa to make pancakes.


    Bengal Dal kebab: Pressure cook Bengal Gram with salt and turmeric powder (haldi) for 4-6 whistles. In a pan with heated oil, add asafoetida (hing), cumin (jeera), green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and chopped onions and saute. Add in the cooked dal along with red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, amchur and chaat masala and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add mint leaves, coriander leaves, mashed potatoes and bread crumbs. Shape into kebabs and chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Dip into a maida-water batter, add a coat of breadcrumbs and deep fry in hot oil.


    Roasted Bengal Gram Chutney: Lightly roast the Bengal Gram in some oil. Cool. Blend with ginger paste, cumin seeds, whole dry red chillies and salt. Add curd and some water as required to make a paste. Heat oil with mustard seeds and curry leaves and asafoetida (hing) to make the tempering (tadka). Pour it over the chutney and serve.


    Explore the wide range of Bengal Gram recipes to include wholesome nutrition for your entire family.


    1. How to store the dal

    Store the dal in an air-tight container to retain its nutrition, aroma and flavour for up to 12 months.


    1. Does Bengal Gram produce gas in the body?

    While Chana Dal is generally safe for consumption for everyone, its rich fibre content can create digestive discomfort including gas in people with sensitive stomachs.

    Soaking the dal for a few hours and then boiling it before consumption can help reduce discomfort. Also, the use of spices like asafoetida (hing), carom seeds (ajwain), cumin (jeera) and black pepper can improve the digestibility of the dal, enabling you to enjoy its wholesome nutrition and flavour.


    1. Conclusion

    A super-versatile dal, Bengal Gram is popular across the country with each region boasting of several favourite recipes. With its low-fat content, low glycaemic index and rich protein values, Bengal Gram’s health benefits outclass many other popular foods on the vast Indian platter! But remember to choose certified organic and unpolished dal to enjoy its optimal nutrition and flavour. To order, click here



    This article on Bengal Gram is a true eye-opener! I had no idea it was such a protein powerhouse. Organic India’s commitment to quality and sustainability is commendable. I’ll definitely be incorporating more Bengal Gram into my diet. Thanks for the insightful information!

    By Viswarupa Pandey

    Oct 09, 2023


    This article truly celebrates the nutritional powerhouse that Bengal Gram is! It’s fantastic to see the focus on incorporating this protein-rich ingredient into our diets. Organic India’s commitment to quality and sustainability makes it even more appealing. I’ve always loved Bengal Gram, and now I have even more reasons to include it in my meals. Thanks for the insightful read!

    By Kanada Bajpeyi

    Sep 20, 2023


    Bengal Gram, also known as chana or chickpeas, is a nutritional powerhouse! Packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, it’s not just delicious but also a fantastic choice for plant-based protein lovers. From hummus to curries, its versatility in recipes makes it a kitchen essential. A true protein gem!

    By Anand Talavalakar

    Sep 01, 2023


    Bengal Gram is a game-changer in my diet! Its rich protein content fuels my active lifestyle while the delicious taste makes it a treat. Whether in salads or curries, it’s a must-have. A versatile superfood that’s truly power-packed and tasty! #BengalGram #ProteinPowerhouse

    By Navin Mukhtar

    Sep 01, 2023


    Bengal Gram is a true powerhouse when it comes to nutrition! Its delectable taste and high protein content make it a staple in my diet. Whether in a hearty curry or a crispy snack, it’s a guilt-free indulgence that keeps me energized and satisfied. A must-try for all health-conscious foodies!

    By Anil Naidu

    Sep 01, 2023

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