If you are looking for a healthy substitute for meat, lentils are for you. Teeming with nutrition especially protein and Iron and low in fat, lentils fill you up without feeling the need for fatty foods. Lentils are tiny beans belonging to the legume family. They add color to your kitchen racks as they come in black, green, red, white, yellow and brown shades. Lentils are available throughout the year and can be stored fresh in air tight containers for up to 2 years!
They grow in pods and are round, oval or heart shaped. They may be used as a whole or split or de husked. Using a combination of lentils in cooking makes your meal mighty nutritious.
All lentils and beans turn out best when cooked in natural clay pots, because of the unique far-infrared heat that cooks them. This superior form of heat is that which is built up in the walls of the pot and cooks the food by penetrating deeper without damaging the outside. “I had my doubts about the lentils cooking as soft as they cook in my pressure cooker” says Shree, a passionate clay cook from McKinsey, TX when she 1st started cooking in clay. “But the lentils cook a whole lot better in the clay pot – they are deliciously soft and yet remain whole, never become a mushy paste.”
A few things to keep in mind when cooking with lentils:
- Wash the lentils thoroughly in 1-2 changes of water
- Cook one cup of lentils in 2 cups of water with select spices and vegetables
- Some lentils can be cooked with rice, the once that require the same cooking time.
- Cooking time differs based on the kind of lentils used. If the grains get mashed with light pressure using a fork, the lentils are done.
- Soak lentils for an adequate time based on the type selected for use.
- Vegetarians, it’s a great idea to use cooked lentils or beans in your meals at least 3-4 times a week. Cook 1 or 2 varieties in bulk, over the weekend and use them throughout the week in your soups, salads, or even with cooked rice or sandwiches.
- Most lentils cook in about the same time or less than it takes to cook in a metal pot, all in medium heat or less!
About Some Common lentils:
|Sr.No||English Name||Alternate names||Uses||Flavor||Nutrition||Cook time - 2 cups in seasoned clay pot.|
|7||Green gram||Moong Dhal||Can be smashed into a thick paste when cooked. Used in traditional vegetable dishes||Nutty||Rich in protein. Easy to cook and digests fast.||20-25 mins. no need for pre-soaking|
|6||Red Lentil||Masoor Dhal||Gets smashed into a thick paste when cooked. Used in rice dishes, soups and curries||Smooth flavor||A good source of iron, protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and minerals||25 mins. no need for pre-soaking.|
|1||Bengal Gram||Channa Dhal||Does not get mashed up on cooking. Used in rice dishes, gravies and salads||Nutty||Low glycemic index||30-35 mins. Pre-soaking is optional.|
|3||Chickpeas/ Garbanzo beans||Kabuli channa/Chole||Does not get mashed on cooking. Used to make curries, salads and the famous Hummus, a Mediterranean chickpeas and Tahini paste.||Nutty||Rich in protein, manganese, dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and iron. Reduces bad cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar and has antioxidant properties.||30-40 mins. Dried beans need to be pre-soaked for 6-8 hrs.|
|2||Split red gram/pigeon peas||Toor Dhal||Gets smashed into a thick paste when cooked. Used in rice dishes, soups and curries||Mild nutty flavor||High in protein, Vitamin A and C||30-40 mins. No need for pre-soaking|
|4||Black gram||Kale Channe||Ideal for low fat diets. Split gram is used as a seasoning agent and also as a staple when preparing a variety of breakfast items||Nutty||Rich in protein and iron||40-45 mins. no need to pre-soak.|
|5||Black-eyed beans||Lobhia/chawli||Does not get mashed on cooking. Used to make curries and salads||Nutty||Rich in fiber and potassium. A low sodium food that reduces blood pressure||45 mins. Pre-soaking recommended for 5-6 hrs.|
|8||Red Kidney beans||Rajma||Does not get mashed on cooking. Used to make curries and salads||Nutty||Contains cholesterol reducing fiber, increases memory power, energizes, has antioxidant properties, is a fat free high quality protein, reduces rise of blood sugar after a meal||50-60 mins. pre-soak for 5-6 hrs.|