Legumes (lentils, peas, and beans) are an essential ingredient in the Kerala pantry. Referred to as "dhal" in India, they bring protein and fiber to the table and offer a low-cost alternative to meat. They are used to make hearty dishes that are poured over rice or sopped up with bread.
Of all the legumes used in Indian cooking, urad dhal is my favorite. In the South, the ancient bean is used to make crispy papadum. It is soaked, ground, and fermented with rice to produce dosa and idli – the most swoon-worthy of breads.