Chapter : 2 – Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils

 India, a land rich in dry beans, peas and lentils, supplies to its general; populous a diet high in protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber.  These beans, peas and lentils are classified as legumes, i.e., plants having pods with edible seeds used fresh or dried.  Dried legumes can be stored whole or split, and when split they are called dals.  The word dal has a common connotation for all Indians, meaning a soup-like preparation made from any leguminous plant.  Dal is generally served with Indian bread or rice, and sometimes it is eaten straight from the bowl as soup.

          Legumes are enjoyed by everyone because of its nutty taste and soft texture and occupy a very prominent place in Indian cuisine because of its low cost and high nutritive value.  If the meals are properly supplemented with complementary proteins, one could get a well-balanced diet inexpensively.  Realizing this, people starts including them in their daily meals.  Their flavorful,. Delicious and versatile quality led to the creation of countless recipes thus enriching the vegetarian cooking with its wonderful varieties.  Dried beans,. Peas and lentils are cooked as a vegetable or with vegetables and sometimes combined with protein foods to make a main dish,. Or a side dish like a dip.  Legumes are cooked in many different ways by different cuisine’s, i.e., by mashing,. Mixing, pureeing, stuffing or baking.  When one becomes familiar with the cooking methods,. Once can create innumerable recipes according to one’s choice and liking.

         Though legumes are high in protein value, they are considered incomplete as they lack one or more of the eight essentials; amino acids which are necessary for our growth.  As such, proteins consist of 22 amino acids, out of which 14 are made, in the body and eight are to be derived from the plant protein.  Plants like nuts, cereals, beans, peans and lentils are high in protein.  To make complete proteins they must be judicially combined with each other so that they can supply all of the eight amino acids necessary for a healthy and strong body.  But the question is how to combine foods to make a complete protein?  So, for the benefit of the readers a chart is given to help plan a complete protein meal; for yourself and your family.

       Note: All the dried bean, peas and lentils must be picked over carefully before cooking because it has foreign particles and sometimes tiny stones.  They must also be washed thoroughly before cooking.  If you do not have the beans, peas or lentils, the recipe calls for try to substitute with the ones available in the market.  But make sure that split lentils are substituted with split peas.  I am sure your recipes will taste delicious and you will add new recipes to your collection.

Mung Dal Delight

(Marvari mung ni dal)

1 cup mung dal                                   2 Tblsp ghee, butter, or oil

2 cups water                                       1 medium tomato, chop fine

½ tsp cumin seeds                              1 small capsicum, chop fine

1 Tbisp coriander-cumin powder            Salt to taste

½ tsp turmeric                                    Juice of ½ lemon

¼ tsp hing                                          1 tsp chopped coriander leaves

                                                          for garnish (optional)

  1. Pick over and wash the dal.  Cover with water just above above the level of the dal and soak for approximately half and hour.
  2. Add 2 cups of water to the dal.  Bring to a boil on high heat.  Turn down the heat and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
  3. In a separate pan heat the ghee and add the cumin seeds.  As the seeds start to brown, add all the dry spices.  Saute the spice mixture for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and capsicum.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add this mixture top the dal.
  4. Add salf and lemon juice to the dal and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Garnish  with coriander leaves (optional)

                                                       Server 4-6