Lentils and Pulses in Indian cuisine

Lentils and Pulses in Indian Cooking

Lentils and Pulses in Indian kitchens/Lentils and Pulses in Indian Cuisine
A pulse is an annual leguminous plant with small round dry flat seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. Pulses are important food due to their high protein and essential amino acid content
Dal or lentils is the staple food in every Indian home. Both the rich and the common person who lives on the street enjoy it. A large percentage of Indians are vegetarian and lentils have long been part of the indigenous diet as a common source of protein. Usually, lentils are boiled to a stew-like consistency with vegetables and then seasoned with a mixture of spices to make many side dishes such as sambar, rasam and dal, which are usually served over rice and roti.

Dals or lentils, peas and beans are cooked practically daily in almost every Indian home, vegetarian or not. Each region has its own favorites and cooking methods. Some are cooked with garlic and ginger, in addition to the staple spices of turmeric, cumin and coriander. Dals can range from spicy-sweet to scorching hot, soup like or like creamed thick soup or dry like a pilaf.

Types of Dals (Lentils)
Chana dal
The word "chana dal" mean "split chickpeas." (Chana-gram is a whole chickpea). Chana dal is baby chickpeas that have been split and polished. The most popular legume in India. Chana dal is a very versatile dried split yellow lentil with a slightly sweet taste, nutty flavor. It is used in variety of vegetable dishes. It can be cooked until soft for the dish called simply dal (yellow dal), or as in southern India it can be used as a spice.

Toor Dal/Tuvardal
Toor Dal is a glassy dark yellow split pea (pigeon pea), similar to chana dal. Toovar dal exhibits a thick gelatinous (meaty) consistency. They take a little longer to cook than moong or masoor dal. These yellow split peas can be made into dal which is served with side dish of vegetables, rice or flat breads.
The South Indian delicacy, sambhar which is an accompaniment for dosa, idli or even rice is cooked with toor dal.

Urad Dal (whole and Split)
This dal have black skins covering creamy white interiors. Whole urad dal derives their strong, rich, earthy flavor from the black skins and has an uncanny ability to absorb flavors.
Split (without the skin) Urad dal is a white lentil used along with rice to make dosas, the crisp pancakes of southern India and other Rice preparations. In South India, Urad dal is also used as a seasoning with mustard seeds for curries.

Moong Dal (whole and split)
 Whole moong is actually a bean popularly known as 'saboot moong’. They are small green beans and are germinated and used in salads or stir fried with lemon juice and Indian spices.
In India the moong beans are used with the skin(green skin) or without the skin (yellow lentil). It is used to make delicious dals and curries. Moong dal is very easy to digest and take on seasonings and spices very well.

Masoor Dal(whole and split)
Whole or Sabut Masoor, this bean is greenish-brown in colour and can be prepared whole. The Split masoor, which is called masoor dal are red/pink in color. They have a dark, earthy flavor and a creamy texture.Masoor dal goes well with tomatoes and kheema/mince meats and may be served on their own as a side dish, or incorporated into soups, stews, and other Indian dal.

The kidney bean with its dark red skin is named for its visual resemblance to a kidney. The kidney bean is also known as the red bean, although this usage can cause confusion with other red beans. The kidney beans (Rajmah in Hindi) are an integral part of the cuisine in northern region of India and it is a favourate that goes very well with rice.

These are a sub species of the cowpea, grown for its medium-sized edible bean, that gives rise to a number of varieties, the common commercial one called the California Blackeye being pale-colored with a prominent black spot. The preparation and uses are similar to Rajmah in India.

Also known as Chole, White Chickpeas or Kabuli Chana has a lovely nutty flavor. Chickpeas in India come in different colors and are known by different names. There are two main kinds of chickpea:
- Desi (Indian), which has small, darker seeds and a rough coat, cultivated mostly in the India.

-Kabuli, which has lighter coloured, larger seeds and a smoother coat, mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan and Chile, also introduced during the 18th century to the Indian subcontinent.

These are just the most common and popular lentils and Pulses generally find in almost every Indian kitchen. But Over 50 varieties of pulses are known in India.

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