The lentil (Lens culinaris) is a type of pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family. The seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each. The plant likely originated in the Near East. A variety of pulses or lentils exist with colors that range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. Red, white and yellow lentils in some cases are peeled, i.e., are those that have their skins removed before being sold. There are large and small varieties of many lentils. Lentils are sold in many forms, with or without the skins, whole or split.
Lentils contain high levels of proteins. Lentils are a good vegetable source of iron.
The many varieties are typically sold dried and are often split and hulled. Some types are firm and can be served as a flavourful side dish while others will be more suitable for soups and purees.
Also known as pulses they are closely related to peas. In India, they are known as dal, a term that also encompasses beans and other types of peas.
Culturally, other pulses are sometimes called lentils but are actually beans or peas, e.g. “black lentils” (urad beans). Black and white lentils do not exist. The most famous lentils are the grey and brown lentils.
Types of lentils:
Brown and French green lentils (lentilles du Puy):
Those are common in most U.S. grocery stores. Green lentils hold their shape very well and can be used in salads or mixed with cooked vegetables. Brown lentils are semi-firm and a good choice for soups as they can become very soft.
Red lentils :
These will turn yellow when heated and are fast-cooking. Use in soups as a thickening agent. When split, they are known as masoor dal. When whole the outer hull is green.
Yellow or orange lentils:
Usually sold hulled and split and best used in purees or soups. Called toor or tuvar dal and popular in Indian dishes.
They are compared to caviar in appearance; when cooked they become shiny. Firm and a nice addition to salads.
Other names :