9 Lentil Varieties

These are bowls of various different lentils.

Lentils are a staple food across the whole world. They are known as the oldest legume to be cultivated and are most commonly used in the Subcontinent and even throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas.

There are lots of different types of lentils found globally, but most can be divided into four categories; Red or yellow lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, and specialty lentils.

Red/Yellow lentils

These lentils range in color from golden yellow to orange and red. These are most common in cuisines in the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. They cook fast, usually taking fifteen to thirty minutes. They can be drunk as soup or used as gravy over rice. They disintegrate fast and become mushy after cooking.

Brown lentils

With a light earthy flavor, these lentils can be brown, khaki, or even dark black. They are the most common of lentil varieties. The brown lentils don’t disintegrate but hold their shape and can be used to make vegetable patties for burgers.

Just as the red and yellow lentils, these brown lentils are also good for soups and stews. They need thirty-five to forty-five minutes of cooking time.

Green lentils

Green lentils also hold their shape when cooked, and they vary a lot in size. The color of the lentils can range from pale green to green with slight hints of black and blue. The strong pepper flavor of these lentils goes well in salads.

Boil green lentils with salt and other herbs for about thirty-five to forty-five minutes for a tasty treat.

Specialty lentils

There are many varieties of specialty lentils, but the two most common ones are Black Beluga Lentils and Puy Lentils.

Black Beluga Lentils

Black Beluga Lentils look like caviar. They are tiny, black, and shiny. They are soft and beautiful to look at and are great for salads. It takes about twenty-five to thirty minutes for them to cook completely. The black beluga lentils grow in dry and cool climates like that of Canada.

Puy Lentils

Puy Lentils are grown in Central France in a place called ‘Le Puy.’ They are dark blueish, slaty green in color, and have a strong peppery flavor. They can be served as a main dish or as a side dish with fish or meat. It takes them twenty to thirty minutes to become tender.

See more: Salmon Lentil Puttanesca | Legume Types

Indian Varieties

The lentil in the subcontinent of India is known as ‘daal’ and is often cooked as a curry or gravy to be eaten with either rice or chapatis and rotis.

Indian lentils are healthy, tasty, and can be cooked in numerous ways. Some popular and commonly used Indian lentils are mentioned below.

Chana Daal or Split Chickpeas

Your Indian kitchen pantry is incomplete if you don’t have Chana daal in it. Enriched with proteins, vitamins, and minerals, the split chickpeas are packed with nutrients. A whole wide variety of Indian dishes like Kofta curry, Chana, or Kabuli Pulao and cutlets are made from Chana daal. Fried and spiced chana daal is great for snacking.

Split Pigeon Peas or Toor Daal

An excellent source of iron, fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and calcium, the Toor Daal is widely cooked in India and is usually eaten with boiled rice.

Whole Black Lentils

These are called Urad daal in India. They carry a lot of health benefits too. Being low in calories but high in protein, iron, and folate, they offer an alternative to those people who do not eat meat.

The Maash daal or the White Urad daal is ivory in color and is the lentil used in the famous and most delicious recipe of lentils called daal makhani. It is special daal, and the taste is enhanced when it is served with lemon, green chilies, ginger juliennes, and mint leaves. It has its own unique taste and can be served with main dishes of chicken, mutton, or other vegetables.

Grown in large quantities in South Asia, Urad daal is also known as Mungo beans. The taste and flavors of well-cooked Urad daal are out of this world.

Whole and Split Moong Beans

Both the whole moong daal and the split moong daal are full of proteins. They are good to have when you are feeling low and unwell and want to have something light. The moong daal helps you to lose weight and also helps improve digestion. A very famous snack of Pakodas is prepared from this moong daal.

Lentils are eaten in other parts of the world as well. Europe, North America, and South America use these to make lentil soups, sometimes mixed with chicken or pork. Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan use lentils to make a vast variety of recipes- Adas in Iran, Kushari in Egypt, and Khichdi in Pakistan are really popular dishes among the people of these countries. In these dishes, lentils are cooked together with rice. Lentils are also stuffed in pooris and parathas, and their flour is used to prepare loaves of bread and papadums.

Some Health benefits

Lentils are easy and fast to prepare. They contain fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which helps stabilize blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. In addition, it prevents constipation. It is also helpful in reducing the risk of heart diseases. The protein content of lentils gives us enough energy to help us continue working through the day.

Vitamin B in lentils helps build new cells and is known to prevent different types of cancers. Minerals and iron in lentils improve the blood flow, and it is the plant that provides the most folate to our bodies.

Final Word

The lentil or the daal is an integral part of meals in the subcontinent. With the variety of recipes they offer, you will always have some ideas of how to cook them best. Simply boil them and have them with rice, make a lentil curry with meat or chicken, add vegetables like Pumpkin or Spinach to your lentils and enjoy the super delicious and healthy lentil in any form.

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