Since dal is simply dried, split pulses I was wondering: how are the pulses split?

Is it that when they are dried they become easy to split, is the dal "cut" in a certain way, or is there some other technique that is used to separate dal into perfect halves?

2 Answers 2


It happens more-or-less naturally. Most legumes have a seed structure with two large cotyledons that serve as storage reserves for the developing embryo, which is nestled between them at one edge of the whole structure. This is easily visible in the peanut (which is botanically a legume and not a true nut):

a split peanut

The outer pod that splits open serves to protect the seeds. Each of the "nuts" inside is a whole seed. On the left is one with the outer coat intact (very thin and papery for peanuts, but often substantially tougher for other beans) and on the right is a split nut. This is a single cotyledon or "lobe" with the small embryo (which looks almost like a separate seed) visible at its left tip.

If you look closely, other culinary legumes share this same structure; even lentils have a tiny seed visible at one edge. The lobes meet against each other with flat edges and will separate easily once the legume is dried. They can still be held together by the outer skin or coat, which varies in thickness; beans tend to have thicker coats, lentils much thinner ones. Once the coat is removed by peeling or rubbing, the dried legume will separate easily into halves with additional quick rubbing or tumbling. This in turn increases the surface area and allows the legume to cook more quickly.

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    If you have access to ordinary frozen peas, you can see this easily. When you peel away the thin skin, there are two "split peas" lying inside it. Only the skin held them together. Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 16:26

To add something on the practical side: the splitting is done with machines like this:

lentil splitter

The lentils are poured into it, and come out dehulled and split.

From the manufacturer's description,

Working Principle

The peeled lentil is move forward by propeller and then splitted by the friction among peeled lentil itself, and the friction between peeled lentil and special structure iron roller.

So, as logophobe said, it is a matter of "quick rubbing or tumbling".

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