Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Know about Pulses

Pulses are defined by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as annual leguminous crops yielding dry grains of variable size, shape and color within a pod.
This therefore excludes green beans and green peas, which are considered vegetable crops. Also excluded are crops that are mainly grown for oil extraction (oil seeds like soybeans and peanuts), and crops which are used exclusively for sowing (clovers, alfalfa).

Protein content
Pulses are 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is double the protein content of wheat and three times that of rice. For this reason, pulses are sometimes called "poor man’s meat". While pulses are generally high in protein, and the digestibility of that protein is also high, they often are relatively poor in the essential amino acid methionine. Grains (which are themselves deficient in lysine) are commonly consumed along with pulses to form a complete protein diet.
Besides providing proteins they fulfill our daily dietary fiber requirement also. Daals have high levels of important minerals like manganese, phosphorous, potassium, iron and copper. They are high in foliates and the B-vitamins like Thiamin.

Pulses have significant nutritional and health advantages for consumers. They are the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities, and in the Seven Countries Study, legume consumption was highly correlated with a reduced mortality from coronary heart disease.

FAO recognizes 11 primary pulses which include Beans, Peas and Lentils. These form a huge part of the Indian diet.

Dal (also spelled dahl, dhal or daal) is a preparation of pulses(dried beans) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick, spicy stew prepared there from, a mainstay of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine. Most meals include them and recipes for how to cook them abound. This is not surprising as not only are Daals delicious to eat and versatile, they are really good for us too.

The word Dal derives from the Sanskrit term ‘to split’.
Common varieties of dals are mentioned below:

Toor Dal - Yellow Pigeon Pea :
Pigeon peas are nutritionally important, as they contain high levels of proteins and the important amino acid methionine, lysine and tryptophan. The dried peas may be sprouted briefly, then cooked, for a flavor different from the green or dried peas. In combination with cereals, pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food.

Chana Dal - split Chickpeas without seed coat:
Chana dal is produced by removing the skin of Kala chana ( Bengal Gram) and splitting it. Gram flour is a flour made from ground Chana Dal.

Bengal Gram - Kala Chana :
Desi (small) Chickpeas with brown skins. In the US and Canada the most used variety is called Myles. It is very disease resistant. It is an excellent source of protein and fiber. Sprouting also enhances the digestability of dried Bengal Gram via the reduction of indigestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried peas.

Kabuli Chana – Chick Pea :
It is an average size chickpea. It grows naturally with the black coat (not roasted as some believe) and it is said to be nuttier in flavor.

Moong Dal - Green Gram Lentil:
They contain between 19-25% protein, 60%carbs and 4% fiber. They are also containing lysine, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and traces of thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Sprouting also enhances the digestability of dried Green Gram via the reduction of indigestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried Lentil.

Split Moong Dal – Split Green Gram Lentil:

Whole Green Gram is split but skin is not removed so it is rich in fibre. These are easy to digest then the whole Green Gram and take on seasonings and spices very well.

Split Skinned Moong Dal – Split Skinned Green Gram:
Moong Lentil in particular is very easy to digest and take on seasonings and spices very well. Dal is a very comforting food just like chicken soup, contains few oligosaccharides which cause flatulence making them a good choice for children, older adults and when one is not feeling very well as digestive systems are delicate at these times.

Urad Dal - Black Gram Lentil:
Also called Black Beluga Lentils. These lentil-like beans have black skins covering creamy white interiors. Whole urad dal/dahl derives their strong, rich, earthy flavor from the black skins and have an uncanny ability to absorb flavors. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers discovered that the pigment in Beluga black lentils acts like an antioxidant and helps protect against heart disease, cancer, and the aging process in general.

Split Urad Dal - Split Black Gram Lentil:
Whole Black Lentil is split without removing the coat.
These can be used in vegetarian cooking as a meat substitute, these tiny lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber.

Urad Dal (dhuli):
Split Skinned Black Gram Lentil Ivory White Lentils are small, about ½ cm. wide and due to their soft texture, tend to break down during cooking, easily thickening stews and soups. Since they are mild in flavor they do well with more assertive flavorings and are well suited for Eastern and Asian cuisines. Used in vegetarian cooking as a meat substitute, these tiny lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber.

Masoor Dal - Red Lentils:
Lentil is lens shaped seed of a small shrub. They have a mild, earthy flavor and soft texture. They have rusty brown skin which encloses vibrant orange-red colored seeds. Just one cup of cooked Daal can give you as much as 62 per cent of your daily dietary fibre requirement

Split Masoor Dal - Red Lentils:
Orange/Split Red lentils are cooked without soaking and are easy to digest. Since Lentils are mild in flavor they do well with more assertive flavorings and are well suited for Eastern and Asian cuisines.Quick cooking and versatile,
these lentils pair well with tomatoes and kheema/ground red meats, sausages, and may be served on their own as a side dish, or incorporated into soups, stews, salads, and Indian dal.

Rajma Dal - Kidney Beans:
Kidney beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, kidney beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, kidney beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. Kidney beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars.

Lobia – Black eyed Bean :
Cowpea ( Lobia), is a grain legume grown mainly in the savanna regions of the tropics and subtropics in Africa, Asia, and South America. Cowpea grain contains about 25% protein, making it extremely valuable where many people cannot afford protein foods such as meat and fish.

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