Strictly speaking, flour is anything ground to powder. Most people associate flour with cereal grains, like the type used in all-purpose flour, but there's a host of flours made from roots, seeds, rice and legumes that lend specific tastes and textures to the dishes they're used in. Urad dal, a hulled and split lentil, is a staple in the breads of Punjabi and South Indian cuisine, where it doubles as a thickening agent. You can grind just about any lentil into a flour, but urad dal has a well-rounded, mild flavor that works in just about any dish.
Things You'll Need
- Whole urad dal lentils
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Colander or sieve
- Paper towels or kitchen towels
- Large saute pan
- Spice grinder
- Dry white rice
Pour the lentils out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and look them over. Discard any damaged, misshapen or blemished lentils.
Pour the lentils in a colander or sieve and rinse them under cool running water to remove dust and field debris. Let the lentils drain over the sink or a bowl.
Line the work surface with a few layers of paper towels or a couple of kitchen towels. Pour the lentils out onto the towels and spread them out in an even layer.
Blot the top of the lentils with a paper towel and let them air dry for about one hour to ensure they're moisture-free.
Place the lentils in an even layer in a large dry saute pan. Place the pan on the stove and set the heat to medium.
Toast the lentils until they develop a nutty aroma and a light golden-brown color, stirring or flipping the lentils occasionally. Pour the toasted urad dal lentils in a bowl and let them reach room temperature. Work in batches if you have too many lentils to fit in the pan in an even layer.
Pour the lentils into the grinding bowl of a spice grinder. The capacity of grinding bowls varies among grinder models, but filling it about half-full grinds each batch of lentils without overheating them and putting too much stress on the motor.
Grind the lentils to a fine powder, about 30 to 45 seconds. Fully ground lentil flour should have the same texture as regular all-purpose flour.
Empty the grinder bowl and continue grinding lentils, working in batches if needed. Store lentil flour in an airtight food-storage container until you're ready to use it.
Clean the grinder by adding about 1/4 cup of dry white rice and grinding it to a fine powder. Wipe out the bowl and blades with a moist cloth.
Tips & Warnings
- You can also use an old-fashioned flour mill to make lentil flour. Or, if you really want a workout, you can use a mortar and pestle.
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