Gulbarga or Kalaburagi as it is known now is often called the ‘red gram bowl’ of Karnataka. Coined as the ‘land of tur dal’, Gulbarga accounts for the highest red gram production in Karnataka and roughly about a tenth of India’s total production. The tur dal or pigeon pea grown here is of superior quality attributed to this region’s rich soil and climatic conditions and cultivated mostly during the kharif season in India. Red gram is cultivated in about 9 lakh hectares and Gulbarga tur dal is itself cultivated in about 3.7 lakh hectares of this.
The dry weather conditions, rich black soil containing high concentration of calcium and potassium and water from the rivers of Krishna and Bhima that flow through this district makes it ideal for the cultivation of groundnuts, rice and pulses. Gulbarga alone has around 300 dal mills with capacities to process 10-15 tonnes of tur per day i.e. dehusk and split the grain.
Tur dal or arhar dal is a staple food in India and consumed in almost every household as it is rich in carbohydrates and proteins. One kg of high quality tur dal of Gulbarga is believed to be sufficient to feed about 16-17 people as against the more easily available Burmese tur dal that feeds only 10 people. They say that the age-old techniques implemented in the production of tur dal helps it cook faster with lesser utilization of LPG and water. They say that 50 kgs of the imported Burmese tur dal takes about 35 minutes as against 20 minutes for the Gulbarga red gram.
Locals are quite vociferous about the superlative quality, taste and aroma of the tur dal grown here that they say is lacking in the other varieties grown in the country and in the world. They also believe that because of the presence of limestone in Sedam, Chittapur, Chincholi and other areas of the district, the tur grown here receives the appropriate nutrition and hence the produce does not rot quickly and also has medicinal properties that can cure cancer.
The high content of calcium (3.6 g/100g) and potassium (0.1 g/100g) definitely lends this tur dal a significant advantage over the other varieties and it is observed in the technical research tests conducted over its volume, grain weight after cooking, leachable solid percent, texture, appearance, colour, flavour, taste and fragrance.
Locals now want to project Gulbarga tur dal as a brand itself and that vision is aided by the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) that it received in 2019.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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