Lentils are associated with the human food for thousands of years. Western Asia is believed to be the origin place of the lentils. They are available in different colors including green, brow, red, black, orange, etc.
The color, shape and size of lentils vary depending upon its type. However, mostly, all types of lentil are available throughout the year. Fresh lentils cannot be used for the consumption. Only dry lentils are included in the human meal. Many countries including US, India, Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, and Ethiopia grow the lentils.
All over the world, there are numerous varieties of lentils are available. However, white, yellow and red lentils are widely used. After removing their seed coat, they are sold in the market. Seeds with the coat, split ones, and the whole lentils are also available for you to buy. You can use lentils to make curries, soups, salads and various other rice cuisines. Lentils are easily available and are healthy and tasty food.
Lentils are enriched with the proteins. They contain more than 25% proteins in it. People who cannot afford expensive meat or vegetable, their need of protein can be fulfilled with the lentils. They contain other minerals, vitamins, amino acid, dietary fiber, and folate, as well.
Lentil consumption is helpful for lowering cholesterol. Dietary fiber of lentil helps to lower down the cholesterol. The considerable amount of folate and magnesium in lentils restrain the damages to artery walls of the heart. Due to its iron content, it is known as a good energy supplier. It provides slow and steady energy which constrains sudden increment in the blood sugar after having a meal. Some of the studies claim that lentils are useful to prevent the breast cancer, as well.
Lentils have a mild flavor and tastes best when are cooked with the assertive flavored ingredients. Lentils, generally, hold their shape after cooking, but you can smash them easily, if cooked well. There is no need to soak the lentils. Unlike beans and peas, you can cook them up anytime without prior preparations.
Bigger lentils take longer time to cook and vice versa. You should keep in mind that, salt slows down the cooking speed of lentils. So, add salt only when you have finished cooking. One cup of the dried lentils will yield 3 cups of the cooked ones. Lentils absorb other flavors and seasonings. So, if they are cooked with assertive flavors, they will give the best taste.
While buying lentils, make sure that there are no insect damages, and they are not cracked. Remove foreign articles, shivered lentils and debris. Rinse them well in water and discard the water completely. Spread them in the dish or on the cloth and let them dry. Once they are dried, they are ready to cook.
Take a sauce pan. Add adequate water in it. Use 3 cups of water for one cup of lentils. Let the water boil vigorously and then add washed and dried lentils in it. It is better adding lentils in boiling water than brought them to boil with the water. Green lentils usually take 30 minutes where as red ones takes about 20 minutes.
Determine the firmness according to the dish for which you will use these lentils. Soups and salads need firmer texture while curries require bit mushy lentils. When the desired results are achieved, remove the pan from the gas.
Don’t discard the hot water immediately. Lentils absorb water which makes them juicy and tasty. Let them be in a hot water for few minutes and then discard the water. Avoid using this discarded water for the preparation of final dish as it may change the color of final dish and may leave an unpleasant stink.
You can season these lentils with your favorite herbs and spices. Fresh lemon juice, vinegars, herbs works really well with the lentils. Add the salt after lentils are completely cooked otherwise it will make them hard and tough. Older lentils take longer time to cook. So, do not mix old lentils with the new ones. It may give an uneven result.
You can use these cooked lentils for any recipes including rice, soups or curries.
Dry lentils have a long shelf life if they are stored properly. It is considered as a staple food for its durability. Store them in a cool and dry place in an airtight container. The color may fade away with time, but the quality will remain the same with few alterations.
Cooked lentils can be used even after one week from which they are cooked. Just make sure they are refrigerated in an air tight container. The frozen lentils kept in air tight container can be used even after six months. However, it might adversely affect their taste and quality.