Saturday, July 10, 2010

Indian Pulses

Understand how pulses rule Indian kitchens
There is one criticism against Indian food that seems to be rather unfounded. This is regarding the lack of natural proteins in the Indian diet. It is generally believed that since Indians aren't naturally inclined towards consuming either eggs or other meats, they are deficient in consuming structural proteins. However, one component of the conventional Indian diet is individually capable of thwarting such theories—pulses. Also called lentils, pulses are a plant-sourced food item. However, unlike some of its vegetarian counterparts that offer roughage and natural nutrients, lentils are known to contain a heavy concentration of proteins along with carbohydrates and crucial vitamins.

Commonly referred to as 'dals', pulses are commonly cooked across every Indian household, supposedly on a daily basis. This is mainly due to the fact that pulses are a semi-liquid preparation and help to neutralize the dry aspect of Indian food that uses a lot of parched breads like rotis and naans. Further, lentils are the perfect partner for eating boiled or slightly-flavored rice wherein cooked lentils combine with the fine grains of rice to create a distinguished taste.

Basic of Pulses
It is vital to understand that there is a finer categorization among pulses. All pulses are legumes and they are also called edible seeds. They are further divided into peas, lentils and beans. This division might be confusing for most people since in common jargon, lentils and pulses are used in the same reference.

While peas are easy-to-differentiate, lentils are the actual dals or the dried pulses while beans refer to the more obtuse form of pulses, such as kidney beans that are called 'rajma' in India. Nearly every dal is sold in its dried form. Further, there are variations in how dals are retailed. They are either sold split or half-split and with or without their outer skin. Each of these seemingly trivial variations tends to induce a major difference in how the cooked lentils taste and appear.

Dals or lentils are cooked in varying formats. Some households prefer to boil them separately, followed by a seasoning of oil and spices, called the 'tadka'. Some folks prefer their dals more subtle in taste. They tend to cook the dal with the basic herbs and spices and a thin paste of tomato. This form of cooking dals is a more recent development wherein healthier, eating habits insisting upon less spicy food, have become prevalent.

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