India has always enjoyed the royalty of being a diverse country not only in terms of languages or people but also in the availability of cuisines. One of the most widely used food items across the country has been Pulses. Producing and cultivating pulses has been more a way of life in here, than just being a commercial function.
Being born and raised in India, we all very much relate to this feeling that we have for those hot, piping dal adorning our tables. Ofcourse, pulses is not only about dal and will delve into that too, but as of now let’s go back in time to see how we began eating this healthy item and how it became a part of human civilization.
Backpedaling In Time!
Amazingly enough, pulses have been a part of us from a very long time. A home to some of the early civilizations, particularly the Fertile Crescent (a region in the Middle East) contains the evidence of yesteryears when pulses were used and that’s about 11,000 years ago.
As far as India is concerned, it has been found that pigeon pea, black gram, green gram and even chickpea and lentil (of Indian type) was first cultivated in our country. Some of the other varieties however, were introduced over a millenia ago.
Today, India grows around twelve different pulse crops and is the largest producer, consumer as well as importer in the world. The major contributing states are Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Others include Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
Types of Pulses!
The ever delicious, nutritious pulses (the name given only to the dried seeds) includes a wide variety of lentils, peas and beans that have been a staple of Indian cuisines.
Well, listed below are some of these items that are almost always in our pantry collection:-
Arhar Daal (Yellow Split Pigeon Peas)
An essential in most Indian kitchens, Arhar daal are a type of pulses that are rich in protein. Being endowed with immense health benefits, they are made on a regular basis at all homes.
Grown in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years now, Chickpeas are another much sought-after item that needs no introduction. They generally are of two types- Black and white that possess superb benefits, and are loved far and wide.
Green Gram (Moong)
One of the highly prized pulses of India, Green gram is grown in East Asia, Southeast Asia and Indian subcontinent. Rich in dietary fibre, they can be eaten on a regular basis too.
Yellow Split Gram (Moong Dal)
It is another version of Green gram and is used extensively in various dishes. They too, are used in sweet and savoury dishes.
Split Chickpeas ( Chana Dal)
This highly delectable dal is another important part of Indian cuisines. Due to their rich taste and aroma, they too, are used in both sweet and savory dishes across the country.
Urad (Black Matpe)
This dal possesses a very strong flavor and is rich in protein. They are generally used in the cuisines made in the Southern part of Asia.
Masoor ( Red Lentil)
This is one of the most popular dal available across the country. Gluten free, these simple yet delicious pulses make a significant part of Indian dishes.
Green Peas ( Hara Matar)
This “cool season” peas is yet another part of the family of Pulses. Green peas are used in almost all the winter curries and make a delicious partner at all times.
Well, the above mentioned pulses are just a few among many of the variants available across the globe. Nonetheless, it surely does give a significant look into how they’re an important part of our everyday lives.
Pulses And Various Dishes!
While it’s difficult to find your soulmate these days, finding an appropriate soul dish (that suits every occasion) is far more difficult. And with us having presented you with all those varieties of pulses, beans and lentils, you may be having a hard time thinking of the perfect dish to cook next.
But trust me, we can surely help you out with your second quest and here are a few:-
One of the most loved lentil dishes, Dal Makhni is a Punjabi cuisine that is made with whole black lentils. This creamy dal is something that can ratch up any occasion and will leave everyone craving for more.
A delicious and flavorful Indian dish, Dal Curry is loved by all. You can definitely go for this item if you’re thinking of making something light, and simple yet extremely delicious.
A North Indian speciality, Dal Baati is among the best of dal dishes that you can try your hands on. It can be made from tuvar daal, urad dal or chana dal and you can serve it in lunches or dinner.
Lauki Chana Dal
Made with chana dal and bottle gourd, this spicy yet sumptuous dish never fails to impress. You can definitely try this delectable cuisine at home and trust me, its gonna be a hit among kids too.
Masoor Dal Tadka
This delicious cuisine contains a great amount of protein and can be made anytime without much hassles. They are loved by elders and children alike.
And surely the list is endless. But as of now, try your hands on some of the mentioned ones and enjoy your day!
The Health Benefits!
Our ancestors were wise enough to include pulses (also beans, peas and lentils) in their food habits and used to have them regularly. But those who find it hard to swallow even a morsel of it, are required to understand that their inclusion in our dietary habits was not merely on the basis of “one time sudden discovery by our forefathers” but rather the realisation of the benefits that these pulses possessed.
Well, here are a few:-
Our body needs an adequate amount of protein and if it doesn’t get the required level, it finds it difficult to repair and maintain itself . However, having beans every now and then can reduce this problem as they are rich in amino acids and thus, helps to attain the daily requirement of protein of the body. Studies have shown that pulses, beans and lentils are rich in Polyphenols, which are again antioxidants needed by us all.
One of the major problems that most of the people face these days is diabetes. But the intake of pulses can be beneficial for such patients. It has been found that a regular consumption of this humble food item can help in lowering blood glucose and thus, prevents diabetes. It also helps in maintaining low blood pressure.
With junk food now becoming a part of our lives, fatty items are unavoidable which later on leads to heart blockage and various cardiovascular diseases. However, pulses, beans and lentils can help with such problems as they reduce the cholesterol levels in the body.
Amazingly enough, pulses, beans and lentils even help reduce the risk of cancer related issues. The presence of Selenium in lentils prevents the growth of tumours and increases the production of T cells that kills diseases.
They even help in controlling one’s appetite as the starch in these items gives a feeling of fullness and therefore, reduces the habit of overeating. This consequently leads to weight loss.
Thus, if you have some health goals and you feel you’re lagging behind, then add up these lentils, beans and pulses and see the result yourself!
Pulses have been a part of us for thousands of years now, and there’s no looking back. From adding up to various dishes to possessing amazing health benefits, our unsung hero has come a long way.
No wonder, why they are the most consumed food item across the globe and may remain so in subsequent times!