Because lentils are not meant just for dals

The humble dal or lentils are not only the most economical food group when compared to other nutrient-dense foods, but also boast an incredible versatility. Adding legumes to your diet allows you to get more than your money’s worth–dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and folate. These nutrition powerhouses are also an incredible source of energy.

Indians are one of the few people who have wholeheartedly accepted lentils in their daily diets. Dals have become an inevitable and important component of our everyday meal. But why limit the use of lentils to a bowl of dal when there are many other ways to incorporate them into your daily diet. Before you go on to experiment, make sure you’re storing lentils the right way.

Breakfast
Trust the South Indians when it comes to kickstarting the day on the right note – choose from a variety of idlis, dosas, uttapams or vadas – all boasting the goodness of dals. Head west to Gujarat to indulge in breakfast favourites such as dhoklas, handwos, khamans or theplas. And if you’re more of a upma-poha person, good news is that you can even sneak lentils into them. For a light breakfast option, this Bajra Upma recipe is a great choice. For something even quick and easy, you could add cooked beans (rajma) to your morning bowl of porridge or simply mop clean a bowl of lightly-seasoned beans with chapatis. Simply cooked black beans or kidney beans (rajma) make a great addition to your morning routine – best served with toast and eggs.
Up your health game further by adding lentils to smoothies to increase the protein content and helping you stay fuller for longer.
Watch this Green Moong Idli recipe video:
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Soups
Did you know that lentils (almost all kinds) make for a hearty soup? They can convert a nutritious bowl of broth into a creamy soup. All you’ve got to do is cook, puree and add them to your flavoured chicken or vegetable broth. For an even more nutrient-dense soup or stew, combine lentils with the goodness of chopped vegetables along with your choice of seasoning. Here’s a Sweet Potato and Lentil soup recipe, warm enough to stir up your soul!
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Salads
Lentils, especially the green and red ones, can jazz up your plain and boring salads. The neutral flavours of lentils soak up just about any type of salad dressing–so don’t hold back when it comes to experimenting. Simply cook your lentils in some vegetable broth, then toss them with veggies, fruits and nuts of your choice for a filling and healthy meal. If you don’t want to use them as the star ingredient, you could instead simply sprinkle some freshly cooked and cooled lentils over any salads of your choice to instantly lend them a boost of fibre and protein.
Here’s a Soybean Salad Recipe starring masoor dal to help you get started:
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Lunch and Dinner


Pair your plain bowl of steamed rice with some spicy Rajma Masala or Dudhi Dalcha. For a side dish of veggies, give this Beet and Lentils in Cracked Mustard recipe a try. On lazy days, this Moong Dal Khichdi recipe is a complete meal in itself. If you’re feeling experimental, whip up a batch of lentil mix and use that to stuff your bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes or mushroom caps. A lentil pulao made with millets, lentils and sautéed or steamed veggies also make for a comforting meal. Add a healthy spin to your pastas by stirring cooked lentils into your sauces or puree the two together for a creamier and yummier result. Another way to use up lentils is by blending them into flours, which can then be turned into savoury dishes such as puris and parathas.
Watch this Hindi recipe video to try making the urad dal puri recipe at home.
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Snacks
Fritters and kebabs are a tasty way to use up leftover or unused lentils. Simply mash the cooked lentils together with finely chopped veggies and grated cheese. Convert the mixture into patties and lightly shallow fry, bake or grill until brown on both sides. Serve these stunning appetisers with a dip or sauce of your choice. For a quick snack, try this kala chana sundal recipe. This masoor dal tikki burger could help you satiate your fast food craving, minus the extra calories. Similarly, you could turn your love for bhajiyas or pakodas into a guilt-free indulgence by sneaking the goodness of lentils into them. Try this moong dal pakoda recipe and snack away.

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Click here for the ingredient details and step-by-step recipe.

Dips and Spreads
Replace your normal hummus for a more exotic and healthier version made with pureed lentils of your choice. Cook a cup of red or green lentils until they are done. Blend them in a food processor with seasonings, a dash of lemon juice and olive oil, and puree until smooth. You could also throw in some herbs and spices such as cumin, paprika and oregano. For a spicy kick, don’t leave out those chillies, pepper flakes or hot sauce. Take some inspiration from this Moong Dal Hummus recipe and whip your own dips and spreads. Serve your fresh, homemade dip cum spread with toasted garlic bread, nachos, chips or even raw/grilled veggies. To get you started, here's a moong dal hummus recipe by Chef Ranveer Brar. Click here for more hummus recipes.

Desserts and more
Don’t restrict the use of lentils only to savoury dishes, they can liven up desserts when used smartly. Use blended or pureed lentils for lentil breads and cake batters, pies, pancakes and waffles, brownies, cookies and other baked goodies. For a desi take on desserts, you could simply add them to your halwas and sheeras, and watch your young ones lick their bowls clean.
Here’s a Bhatt ki Dal ka Halwa video to help you get going:
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Images: Shutterstock 






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