Tradition and superstition are central to Italian new year's eve traditions, especially when it comes to the food.
A typical New Year's Eve or Capodanno menu includes dishes which are symbolic of good luck with the promise that those that eat them will have a prosperous year ahead.
Cotechino and Lentils
In fact, it's customary in Italy to eat lentils with cotechino or Zampone (a kind of pork sausage mix with meat stuffed inside a pork leg). The lentils are symbolic of coins, the idea being the more lentils you devour, the more prosperous you'll be in the new year. Pork is also considered to be a meat that brings good luck.
If lentils aren't on the menu, rice is considered equally lucky and the same philosophy applies, every grain eaten promises more money in your pocket in the coming year.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.