Uncle Cooks with dal from Malawi in your desi kitchen

Indian brand Uncle Cook’s Malawi Toor Dal sold in Singapore

My mother lives in Singapore and prefers to do her monthly shopping at the well known megamall Mustafa’s – frequented by South Asians from every region plus anyone looking for anything, all of which is available under one humongous roof.

This packet of toor dal, also known as arhar dal, is one of the staples of any self respecting Indian housewife’s kitchen. I would have normally walked by it without a second thought if it had not been for the “Product of Malawi” stamped across the bottom and the bright purple flag “Malawi Toor Dal”.

Wait…what?

Since Google’s search is broken, all I was able to dig up after much verbatim was this report from 2012 on commodity imports:

India, biggest producer, consumer and importer of pulses, is likely to see 20% rise in pulse imports from East African countries like Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya in 2012.
In 2011, India imported around 350,000 tons of pulses from East African countries.
Meanwhile, India’s total pulses import is likely increase by 2.75-2.80 million ton, showing an increase of 7.7%. Africa is one of the largest supplier of tur (toor) to India. During 2011, the country imported around 190,000 tons of tur.

Armed with the alternate spelling of the transliterated word from the Devanagari, I discover that:

The leading producer is India producing about 85 % of the world’s total produce…. but it is not into the exports of tur at all, as the domestic consumption demand in the country is quite high and Myanmar, the neighboring country to India leads the tur exporting countries’ list. The major importing countries that import tur or pigeon pea are

Myanmar

Republic of Tanzania

Kenya

Malawi

Uganda

Mozambique

The pigeon pea importing list is topped by India and the European Union.

And in case like me you simply want to know more:

Pigeon pea originated in Asian continent particularly it is said that to be a native to India in as long as 3000 years ago. From India, it was taken to the eastern African region approximately a thousand years ago. Then it was called ‘Gandoles’ and was cultivated in Egypt according to the remnants found in the tombs of Egypt.

When Columbus discovered the new world or America, the African or the black people were taken there as slaves. Pigeon peas traveled to the new world with the slaves. This was the time when this crop started gaining popularity and cultivation of pigeon pea, on a wider level, got started. Tur has maintained its reputation since then and even now it is being widely demanded.

Who would have known there was such a fascinating story of civilization, agriculture and now, globalization behind the simple dal we eat with our rice or chapati?

Be the first to leave a comment. Don’t be shy.

Join the Discussion

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.