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It is difficult to completely categorize all the ingredients to particular cuisine. Indian cuisine is an assemble of over ten cuisines. And believe me, each of them are so different from each other. But lentils are common in most of all regional food! There are so many types of lentils and are used in various kind of dishes effortlessly! Lentils are called dal, daal, dahl .

Know few pointers for cooking lentils and make them part of your daily diet.

Pulses are known for its protein content. Pulses are to be cooked properly before consuming it.

Lentils(daals) I use in everyday cooking!

Note: Few pointers for  all lentils

  • The less polished and non-shiny lentils are considered more healthy ( retaining its protein layer). So next time you know ,which lentils pack will do good for you. Go for unpolished and non-oily lentils. (Sometimes, lentils are oiled so that they appear shiny and nice)
  • Soak lentils in excess water so that they get soft and cook well later while cooking.
  • The lentils initially cooked without salt and in soft cooking water. It means the more water has its hardness, the more time lentils will take to get cooked. A few drops vegetable oil may help in such case.
  • Pressure cook technique is effective and simple technique used to cook lentils. It allows the vapour to stay in without much hassle.

For more information on pressure cook technique visit http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/techniques/pressure-cookers-guide-00412000068019/

Pigeon pea- ( Known as ‘tuvar daal’ in hindi)- Pigeon pea is most widely used among all lentils. It is known for its protein content and included in complete balanced daily meal of indian cuisine. It is mostly cooked with the help of pressure cooker because it is effective and quick! It is tempered with spiced or prepared with leafy vegetables and other vegetables also. There are some very popular dishes like ‘Daal fry’ ,’ daal tadka’, ‘Palak daal’(spinach daal) or ‘sambar‘(Loads of vegetables in the soup of lentils)

Green gram- (Known as ‘moong dal’ in hindi) Green gram has outer green layer and inner white part and is considered high in protein. This can be bought both with and without its outer hull. It is consumed in form of sprouts, daal or even salads and desserts. In south-indian cuisine, it is used to prepare pancakes(dosas) and served as breakfast. It is soaked atleast  for 1 hour before preparation. It has sticky consistency. It is included in daily balanced diet of indian cuisine.

Bengal gram-(known as ‘chana dal’)-This daal is yellow and probably the largest Indian lentil, it has a nutty sweet flavour.I always thought that chana daal were young chickpeas that were dried, skinned and split to form this yellow daal. When I did some research to check this out, it appears that they may be a smaller relative of the chickpea. It is used in curries, daals, desserts and special food prepared as an offering for god on festival days.

Bengal gram is an excellent food for diabetics. They are high in protein and fibre and have a very low glycemic index (that is they have almost no effect on blood sugar levels).

Black gram-(Known as ‘urad dal’ in hindi) This is also a proper Indian lentil, native to India and has been around for a very long time. It is very nutritious and another pulse that is recommended for diabetics. Again this can be bought both with and without its outer hull.

With the shell it is black (and sometimes called black gram), and have a very pungent aroma and a rich earthy flavour. They are used like this to make the Punjabi dish Dal Makhani which is a sort of vegetarian equivalent to butter chicken.

Without the outer shell (washed) the lentils are a creamy colour, they are milder, less earthy and slightly chewy. Like this they are used to make dosas and idlis and can be added to flour to make breads. They can also be used with onion and tomato and spices to make a lovely daal curry.

Red lentils-(Known as ‘masoor dal’ in hindi)- These are salmon coloured. When cooked they turn a more golden colour and become quite mushy. They are used all over Asia as well as the Middle East and Africa and are probably the Indian lentils we know best in the west.

These daal cook quickly but again it is better to soak them before cooking. Since they become soft, they are sometimes mashed to add to other dishes as a sort of very tasty thickening agent.Masoor daal has a creamy texture and a sort of warm earthy taste. They are excellent with onions to make a more soupy dish.

(http://www.my-indian-food.com/IndianLentils.html)

For more information on cooking timings of lentils , visit http://www.ehow.com/info_8400195_types-lentils-cooking-times.html

For nutrition value of lentils or pulses visit, http://www.growmorepulses.com/about_pulses

There is a dish called ‘panchmel dal’ which is prepared using all five dals. Will soon try the dish and post it too.

Pulses used in indian cooking

Red kidney beans-(known as ‘rajma ‘ in hindi)- Red kidney beans are used more frequently in north-indian cuisine. Used in salads, curries and even in rice preparations. The ‘rajma curry’ is very popular dish in north-indian cuisine and believe me, it is delicious!

Chickpeas– (Known as ‘kabuli chana’ in hindi)- Chickpeas are used in almost all cuisines but it has special place in indian cuisine. It is mostly soaked and boiled before using them. Chickpeas are high in protein ,carbohydrates and fibre. It is used in some really popular indian dishes like chaats (indian savory snacks), curries (chickpea curry recipe) and salads.

Cowpeas-black eyed peas-(known as ‘chawli’ in hindi) These are mostly used in curries ans snacks. They are actually quiet healthy and used in snacks too.

There are so many other lentils and pulses in India but these are used most often. I hope you guys find this information useful.

Will be posting about oils used for indian cooking very soon in part -3.

Please do remind me if anything is missing and any details about lentils are most welcome!

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