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 of land and Gulbarga tur dal is itself cultivated in about 3.7 lakh hectares of this.
Called locally as Gulyal, Chaple and Bennur local, Gulbarga Tur Dal is famous for its unique taste, aroma and shelf life which is due to the high concentration of calcium and potassium in the soil and its high milling qualities. The milling quality of the dal is due to the spherical nature of the grains which make it a premier quality dal called patka dal.
The dry weather conditions, rich black soil 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. The final dal produce is available in three forms – split oiled, split dry and whole.
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 can 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. 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 the presence of limestone in Sedam, Chittapur, Chincholi and other areas of the district helps the tur grown here to receive 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 which 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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