blog6Red, white , green, brown, beige  – legumes, beans or pulses? there are so many and actually we may not even know the names of some. Within India itself, different pulses and dals are cooked by different communities in their own traditional style. They are great source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and should be included on a daily basis in the diet.

Several terminologies are used to indicates the dals / pulses used in daily cooking. Often these terms have overlapping meaning and are confusing to use. The term ‘pulse’ is used to describe crops harvested for their dry grains, such as lentils or chickpeas. While ‘legume’ includes these dry grains, as well as fresh peas, beans and crops mainly grown for oil extraction, such as soybeans and peanuts –

Basically, they all grow in pods and is some cases the beans can be cooked with the shell while sometimes the shell is discarded.

So beans and peas can be included in legumes while pulses would be inclusive of lentils/dals.The beans, peas and lentils can be differentiated by their shape and colour.

  1. Dry Beans are oval or kidney shaped and there are two main categories: .

Red beans and white beans

  • Red beans – Are used in bean burritos,soups, salad bar,and main dishes or side dishes, such as vegetarian beans or baked beans.These include pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, etc.
  • White beans – Navy beans, garbanzo, small white beans are used in soups, salads,or served as a vegetable

2) Peas are usually round. They are cooked as vegetables, included in rice preparations, curries or soups, etc. These include Black-eyed peas and Whole peas

3) Lentils/ dal are flat disks and are used to prepare the common curries like moongdal, chanadal, ec. Dal is often the split lentil cooked with water with some vegetables and spices added to it

In Indian cooking, dals are also often used to prepare sweet dishes like moongdal halwa, besan chikki, etc. The whole pulses are ground into flour such as in case of Chickpeas to get the besan, Chana is ground to get sattu, and further used to prepare different dishes.

Some pulses are soaked and then sprouted like whole green moong, moth beans, red chana, green chana, etc. Dals can be also soaked overnight and ground into a paste as in case of idli/dosa batter, pesaruttu, etc

  1. Mung beans (also known as green gram, Hindi: moong,Pesara – Telugu), are little green seeds that are yellow oonce peel is removed. Mung beans both whole or split, with or without peel, germinated are used to prepared a variety of savoury and sweet dishes.
  2. Urad (also known as black gram, black lentil, Hindi: urad, Uddipapu -Telugu), is a little black seed with a white interior. Currently it is one of the most expensive pulses in the market. Urad dal is used extensively for preparing idli/ dosa batter,vadas, papads by South-Indians and for preparing dal makhani in the North. Because of its mucousy texture it provides a smooth consistency required for the batters and for the rich thick dal.
  3. Garbanzo Beans (also known as chickpea, Bengal gram, Hindi: channa, Mudip Chenagulu – Telugu). Garbanzo beans are found in two forms, the smaller dark skinned beans known as desi channa and the larger white skinned beans known as Kabuli channa. Kabuli chana is eaten whole as in chole or as split chanadal or even as besan flour.
  4. Masoor (also known as red lentil, Hindi: masoor, Misur pappu- Telugu) has a dark brown skin and is orange on the inside. It is more common among North-Indians than down south.
  5. Pigeon Pea (also known as tropical green pea, Hindi: toor, kandi pappu- Telugu), is a beige lentil with a yellow interior. This dal is very commonly cooked by Gujaratis and Maharashtrians.
  6. Black-eyed pea (also known as cow pea, Hindi: lobia, Bobbarlu -Telugu). Black-eyed peas have a distinctive flavor and are an all around pulse in Indian cuisine. They’re used to make curries, dals, and papads.
  7. Azuki bean (also known as red cow pea, Hindi: chori,). Azuki beans have a sweet nutty flavor and are easy to digest. They can be cooked faster compared to other beans .
  8. Soybean -Soybean is an excellent source of high quality protein containing all the essential amino acids in readily digestible form.A large variety of soy products such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy flour, soy chunks, soy granules, etc are available. https://blog.ekincare.com/2015/10/17/super-food-soy/
  9. Peas – Peas are tender green round cotyledons. They have long been recognized as an inexpensive, readily available source of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The bright green colour can add a fresh look to pulaos and curries. https://blog.ekincare.com/2016/04/09/goodness-of-green-peas/

So there are beans in all types of colours, shapes and sizes. There can be a bean for each day and you will see that you are happy with such a variety of flavours and textures available. With the current emphasis on whole foods which are not processed extensively and retain most of the fiber, vitamins and minerals, BEANS are a great source. Just that the preparation of beans requires some pre-planning as they take longer time to cook, but that effort is definitely worth it when you look at the plethora of health advantages.

Written by drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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