Including lentils in our daily meal helps keep us energetic through the day.

Pulses are the seed part of plants, hence they contain 20 to 30 per cent protein, in contrast to cereals. which are also seeds. Soya, the wonder pulse from the Far East, contains more protein (43 per cent) and more fat (19.5 per cent) than other commonly used Indian pulses.

However, since there has been a lot of research on soya, there are controversies about its positive and negative health values. Due to the higher protein content of pulses, they take a longer time to be hydrated. Therefore, soaking in water before cooking and a longer cooking time is necessary.

Common pulses

Dals are de-husked pulses. Tuvar dal, green gram, bengal gram and masoordal are most commonly used. Whole grams are channa,rajma, cow-peas (black-eyed peas), dried green peas, broad beans... Roasted pulse powders are used as accompaniments as milaga podi or chutney podiorparuppu podiwhich is mixed with hot rice and gheeor oil.

Tuvar dalis the base for sambar. (when I was 16, I was told to cook some dal so that the cook, who came in late that day, could save time.

I cooked a good amount of greengram dhal, not knowing it should have been tuvar dal. I must have turned green with all the dishes made with the same dal; sambar, rasam,cabbage with dal and plain dal along with a lot of harsh blessings from the family )!!

Sweets and savouries

Raw, soaked dals can be used for Indian salads likekosambri. Masala dals are very suitable for rice and chapathis. These preparations can be made in various ways with differing combinations of pulses, spices and herbs. Dal flour like besan (bengalgram dalflour) can be used for thickening and for coating, as in bajjisand bondas.Dalsare used in sweet preparations too. Payasamor kheer,poli, mysore pak, barfis, halwasand many, many more.

I can go on and on, but I have to stop somewhere. But you can use your imagination and work on more recipes. Do let the pulses help beat your pulse better.

Cooking methods

Similar to cereals, pulses and grams also need 1:2 volume water. A little extra water can be used, as this can be added to the gravy.

Pulses can be cooked soft and eaten plain with a little salt and ghee, as given to infants, children and convalescents where spices should be avoided.

Plain cooked pulses and grams can be tempered* and made into sundal, with the addition of chopped onion and coconut( op.). This dish can be served plain as a snack and also as part of a meal.

Pulses are used in dosais along with rice, or by themselves, as in pesarattu, adai or mixed pulse dosais.

Vadais are also made of dhal. Similarly, idly and dhokla are made from ground dhal.

Recipes

Tempering (also referred to as seasoning)

Method

Heat 2 or 3 tsp. oil, add a tsp. mustard seeds and 1/4 tsp. jeera. When the mustard splutters, add 2 tsp blackgram dal and 1/4 tsp hing. Add a few washed and dried curry leaves before pouring seasoningon to the cooked dish. Red chillies may be used in the tempering for some dishes, if there are no other spices.

Kosambri

Ingredients

25 gm green gram soaked in water for 30 to 40 mins.

Mix with 1 tbsp grated coconut, 1 tbsp grated carrot,

1/2 tsp chopped green chillies, 1 tsp chopped green coriander 1 tsp. Add 1/4 salt, 1/4 tsp sugar (optional), and 1 tsp lime juice.

Mix well and add tempering if required.

Masala Dal

Dal 100g. (tuvar, green gram, Bengal gram, masoor dal. Any dal can be used individually, or mixed).

Wash and cook with two volumes of water, in the pressure cooker for 15 min.

Mash well when still hot.

Add chopped ginger, green chillies, garlic (op), mint, green coriander, curry leaves (1/2 to 1 tsp each).

Mix and cook for a few minutes with the tempering.

Remove from fire and add two tsp lime juice.

Bajji

Ingredients

Bengal gram flour(besan) 1 cup

Raw rice flour 1tbsp.

Omum (ajwain) or omum powder 1tsp.

Red chilli powder, salt, jeera 1/4 tsp each,

Hing a pinch

Method

Mix dry ingredients, add salt and spice to taste. Add water and make a thick but runny batter.

Cut vegetables like potato, onion, carrot, cauliflower, capsicum into slices or chunks. Dip in the batter and fry in hot oil till crisp and golden brown.

Blot with clean tissue paper and serve hot with chutney or sauce.

The author is Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, FitnessOne.

Keywords: foodnutrition

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