picture is that of the whole urad dal, recipes listed mostly have the skinned variety as ingredient. If using the whole (sabut) dal, soak and skin the dal – a lot more work!
Black lentils commonly known as urad dal are used in its whole form in North Indian cookery, whereas split black lentils are used in the South. Found all over India, black lentils grow in small pods. When ripe, the seed pods are picked, dried and threshed or beaten to separate out the lentils. These are further dried and either left whole or split. Whole black lentils are small and oblong. The black seeds are sometime flecked with dark green or gray.When black lentils are split, they are creamy white and matte. The lentils are sometimes split with the skin left on. Split black lentils have a subtle and flour like aroma. The taste is quite bland. Urad dal is used on a daily basis in South Indian houses to make batters for idlis and dosas and is also an important ingredient in tempering for most South Indian dishes. Split black lentils are eaten with rice or added to hot oil along with mustard seeds and onion before adding the vegetables