"Some of the most common kinds of pulses used in Indian cooking are as follows:
Chana dal (or gram dal) are hulled and split chick-peas. Deep yellow in color, these pulses do not need soaking before cooking."
"Kabli chana are yellow chick-peas. Unhulled and beige in color, they need overnight soaking before cooking.
"Kala chana are small brown or black chick-peas. Like kabli chana, they require long presoaking and cooking to become tender.
"Continental masoor are whole greenish-brown lentils. Flat and oval-shaped, they originated in the West and were adopted by India, so they should already be fairly familiar to you. They do not need presoaking."
"Masoor are brown Indian lentils. Whole but smaller than continental masoor, they do not require presoaking.
"Masoor dal are split masoor which are tiny and salmon-pink because they have also been hulled. They do not need presoaking and turn yellow when they cook.
"Moong beans (or hari dal) are dark green, small, and slightly cylindrical in shape. They need 2-4 hours' soaking before cooking, but if oversoaked they will sprout and become moong bean sprouts so familiar in the West."
"Moong dal chilka are split moong beans, green on one side and pale on the other. They do not need presoaking.
"Moong dal are split, light yellow, and rectangular in shape because they are hulled. They do not need to be soaked before cooking.
"Toor dal (or arhar dal) are a hulled, split pulse, a little larger than chana dal. Dull and yellow-colored, they do need presoaking."
"Urid (or black matpe) are small, dull, and black, similar in size and shape to moong beans. They must be presoaked.
"Urid dal are split urid that do not need to be soaked before cooking.
"Washed urid dal are off-white because they have been hulled and washed as well as split. They do not require presoaking."