How to know if dal is spoiled? (4 easy ways)

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to know if dal is spoiled”, discuss the different methods of identifying spoiled dal and the health effects of eating spoiled dal.

How to know if dal is spoiled?

To know if dal is spoiled you should be able to identify the possible signs of spoilage in dal. The spoilage of food is usually noticed by the generation of off-odors related to the oxidation of its compounds and by other changes on the characteristics of the food.

However, the spoilage may manifest differently depending on the type of product, that is, how the dal was produced, if it is a homemade dal or a processed shelf-stable dal and how it was packed (3).

What are the signs of spoiled dal?

The possible signs of spoiled dal are:

  • Generation of off-odors: dal contains fatty acids which can oxidize and generate degradation products such as aldehydes and ketones which characterizes the odor of rancidity (3,6)
  • Darkening of the color: Fresh dal has a yellow-like color. During prolonged storage, the color darkens and loses its yellowish characteristic (3)
  • Formation of slime: A slimy texture on the surface of the dal is a sign of the development of lactic acid bacteria (8)
  • Bloating of the packaging: Some bacteria can develop and produce gas, which may be noticed by the packaging bloating (8)
  • Changes on the texture: Long storage results in the improved consistency of the dal due to the absorption of water by the starch granules of the pigeon pea. The dish increases in viscosity due to the retrogradation of the starch during storage (3)
  • Growth of mold: Fungal infection and development may also occur during long storage of dal (6)

What is the shelf life of dal?

The shelf life of dal varies from 3 days to several months, depending on its production process.

A homemade dal lasts for 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator or up to 3 months when frozen (4). It is important to chill the leftover dal to a temperature of 40°F (4°C) within 2 hours after being cooked.

Shelf stable dal is a commercial form of dal that has been thermally processed for 25 min at 121°C and packed in retortable pouches to be readily eaten after being reheated (3). The shelf life of this type of dal is about 3 months unopened.

Ready-to-cook dal is a variety of dal product that has been dehulled and pre-soaked for 2 h and packed in laminated pouches to produce a dal that can be quickly prepared. This type of dal has a shelf life of 10 months when stored at room temperature (7).

What factors determine the shelf life of dal?

The factors determining the shelf life of dal are (1,2,5,7):

  • The quality of the ingredients – Due to the different properties of the ingredients added, the shelf life varies. Oil, proteins and fats may undergo different deterioration processes
  • The production process – Pigeon pea (main ingredient of dal) processed by sterilization has a longer shelf life than homemade cooked pigeon pea
  • The storage conditions – Cold storage may reduce the development of microorganisms in food. However, when there are temperature fluctuations – for example due to repeated door opening of the refrigerator – the shelf life can be reduced
  • The hygiene conditions during the production – Inappropriate food handling result in contamination of the product and early spoilage
  • The packaging material – Processed dal are generally packed in retort pouches, which are made by high density polyethylene or laminated materials. According to studies, polyester-aluminum-polyethylene laminate packaging material are the most suited for maximum stability and best sensory quality of processed dal

How to store dal?

Dal should be stored in the refrigerator if it is a homemade dal. After being cooked, chill the dish to a temperature of 40°F (4°C) to reduce the microbial growth and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (4).

Shelf stable cooked ready to heat dal can be kept at room temperature till the best-by date. They should be stored in cool places protected from sunlight. In general, these products have a shelf life of 90 days (3).

Shelf stable ready to cook dal can be stored at room temperature till the best-by date. In general, these products have a shelf life of 10 months (7). Store it in a cool and dark place.

What are the possible health effects of consuming spoiled dal?

The possible health effect of consuming spoiled dal is to experience foodborne illnesses. The common symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (9):

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms after eating spoiled dal, look for medical assistance.


In this blog, we have discussed all the aspects of spoiled dal. We have discussed “how to know if dal is spoiled.” We also discussed the factors that may affect the shelf life of dal


  1. Roccato, A., Uyttendaele, M., & Membré, J. M.  Analysis of domestic refrigerator temperatures and home storage time distributions for shelf-life studies and food safety risk assessment. Food Res Int 2017, 96, 171-181.
  2. Coorey, Ranil, et al. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Compr. Rev. Food Sci 2018, 17, 827-840.
  3. Jafri, Mahwash, et al. Development of a process for the manufacture of shelf stable dhal and its physico-chemical properties. J food sci technol, 2015, 52, 5709-5717.
  4. Leftovers and food safety. USDA. 2020.
  5. Redmond, Elizabeth C., and Christopher J. Griffith. The importance of hygiene in the domestic kitchen: implications for preparation and storage of food and infant formula. Perspec Public Health, 2009, 129, 69-76.
  6. Evans, Judith A., ed. Frozen food science and technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  7. Sethi S, Samuel DV, Khan I. Development and quality evaluation of quick cooking dhal-A convenience product. J Food Sci Technol. 2014, 51, 595-600.
  8. Rawat, Seema. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian j plant sci Res, 2015, 5, 47-56.
  9. Foodborne illness and diseases. United States Department of Agriculture. 2020.

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