Lentils - Agiboo

Red, yellow, brown and green: there are many varieties of lentils. Lentils can only be bought dried and have somewhat of a bad rep. Over recent years however, lentils have grown in popularity because they are healthy and can be used in many dishes.

History

The lentil (Lens culinaris) is the legume of a crop that was widely cultivated before our era. The fact that the lentil is mentioned in the Old Testament attests to this. The actual lentil is the seed of the plant, which is traded dried, in several colors and sizes.

The species is mentioned in the literature under the name Lens esculenta. However, this name was published by Moench in 1794, making it a younger synonym of Lens culinaris Medik. The genus Lens is only small and is native to the Mediterranean region (including Asia Minor). It belongs to the Papilionoideae in the family Leguminosae (or Fabaceae).

The best known and perhaps the tastiest lentils are the green lentils of Le Puy from France, (once) known as the caviar of the poor. They fall under the green variety, yet are different from the standard green lentils and is a real all-rounder. This variety is cultivated in the French Auvergne and, unlike the split lentils, contains a skin so that the structure is solid and also remains after cooking. The lentil is small in size and very easy to use in dishes such as pork, fish and salads. These are small, bulbous and dark green, with a slightly bluish sheen. It is best to store dried lentils in a cool, dry and dark place.

Production

These small disc-shaped legumes are native to Asia and southern Europe. They require a lot of heat during growth. Not surprisingly, they are mostly used in Indian, Turkish and Moroccan cuisine. Lentil comes from the lentil plant whose seed is dried. The dried seed exists in different colors: white, brown, green, yellow, red, orange and even black. Lentils are not to be eaten raw because they give off a toxic substance. Hence, lentils are only available dried or precooked.

In general, the brown and green varieties retain their shape well (some more fully than others), whereas the hulled and, most particularly, split red and yellow lentils tend to disintegrate and, therefore, are best for soups or in applications where they’ll be pureed.

Applications

Lentil, the multifunctional legume widely used in Turkish, Moroccan and Indian cuisine, comes in many varieties. Brown lentils have a rich, earthy flavor. Green lentils have a slightly peppery, robust flavor. Red ones have the most sweet and nutty flavor versus the other ones.

The legume contains a lot of fiber which makes them good for the intestines and digestion. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you will experience a positive impact on your bowel movements when consuming this legume. Besides fiber, lentils also contain a lot of protein and healthy minerals, making it a worthy meat substitute. The lentil is of all kinds and fits into a healthy diet. Lentils can be used as is, for instance; cooked with pork or game; cooked and cooled in a salad with fresh herbs, grilled bell bell pepper and anchovies or fresh goat cheese.; with fresh spinach and a yogurt dressing; as a hearty meal soup; with Indian spices (garam massala, coriander, turmeric) for the traditional dish dahl.

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