Al dente is an Italian term that describes a type of consistency that pasta or rice can have after being cooked. Al dente means that the pasta should not become fully soft, but should maintain a firm consistency. In Italian cuisine, pasta should always be al dente and never fully soft.
The term al dente literally means "to the tooth" in Italian, which refers to the fact that, when biting the pasta, you should feel a very slight crunch or biting sensation in the teeth.
The correct pronunciation of al dente in Italian is Ahl Den-teh. It is important to note that in the audio pronunciation you will hear that dente is pronounced with a very open "e" in -den, as per the rules of proper Italian diction. However, in Italy, people often pronounce it with a closed "e" as well. Instead, the "e" in -teh must be pronounced like the "e" in the word "bed" and not with an "ay" ot "ei" sound is often heard from foreign speakers. Regarding the first word, Al, the "a" is open like when you produce an "ah" sound.