Indian is truly blessed to have so many preparation attributed to lentil. Even all regions of India do boast of several of the lentil preparations on its own or as in part with other ingredients. Also known as “Dal” or “Dahl”in Hindi, it is a bushy annual plant of the legume family and grows from a foot to a small tree and grows in pod. They stand up very well to dry conditions and after harvesting also keeps up well for a very long time without significant loss of nutrients or taste. India is the largest producer and consumer of all varieties of lentil just because of the simple reason of its availability and low price.
Lentil has been the excellent source of vegetarian protein since time immemorial and plays an important dietary role. It is not only easy to digest but also can be very interesting in taste and texture when prepared variedly and correctly. Used both with and without skin, they legume family boast of so many varieties from red to green, white to black, yellow to pink. There are also the split varieties which find their way into traditional recipes especially in India.
Some of the popular lentils found in Indian cuisine are as follows:
Urad Dal (Black lentil)- without skin whole and split (white colour) whole with skin
Chana Dal (Bengal Gram)- comes from black gram which is skinned and split to obtain yellow grain.
Moong Dal (Moong lentil)- whole comes in green, without skin in yellow colour. Essential ingredient for kichdi, a food for the invalids.
Arhar dal (Yellow lentil) also known as tur dal in the western part of India and very popular menu items in Indian restaurants.
Masoor dal (Red lentil), the whole lentil with skin is similar to beluga or puy lentil, the skinned is known as masoor dal which is the inspiration of so many lentil preparation.
These are the traditional lentil and the other being choole (chickpea), kala chana (black/horse gram) etc and I am sure that there are so many across the world along with their recipes.
The skinned grains have short cooking time when compared to the whole one and are generally boiled into stew and tempered as per the choice. They can wither be boiled in a suitably large vessel or pressure cooked to save on time. The grain bursts open during the cooking process and thickens the preparation, but if required they can be thinned with hot water.
Apart from being a very good source of protein, they also contain carbohydrate, dietary fiber and also a good source of iron and vitamin B1. The blogs to follow will be dedicated to some of the lentil which we have listed above and their recipes.
Tags: gosht, sambhar, chettinad, handi, balti, chana, tikka masala, lentil, karahi, curries