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Lentils Beans Pulses – History | Health Benefits | Recipes

Updated on August 1, 2010

History of Lentils and Beans in India

Lentils and beans are the most common food ingredients used in Indian cooking. On one hand, Indian food is rich in spices and flavors and on the other hand, it is rich in beans, pulses, grains, lentils, and legumes. Not only rural people of India consume these food items on a daily basis but also people living in major metros like Delhi, Mangalore, Mumbai, and Kolkata consume lentils and beans on a daily basis. Most people call lentils or pulses by the name of dals in India. The history of lentils, beans, rice, and legumes is very old in India. These foods are actually in the tradition of India. Ancient Aryans who settled in the Indus valley in the Bronze Age (3000 to 1300 BC) started cultivation of these crops.

History of Lentils and Beans in World

There is also a mention of pulses and legumes in the ancient books of India. Moreover, split peas have a very old history and they were cultivated before 6000 BC in the ancient near east. Broad beans were the most important crop since medieval times. Also, there is a mention of lentils on the royal graves of Ancient Egypt. Legumes were very highly regarded in the ancient world.

Beans peas lentils legumes
Beans peas lentils legumes

Health Benefits OF Eating Lentils and Beans

Lentils are tasty and nutritious. Lentils are easy to prepare and store. Lentils are a good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin B, calcium, and iron. Beans and lentils have a lot of health benefits. They are beneficial for diabetic patients and also who are at risk of developing diabetes. Lentils and beans provide antiaging benefits. They are also healthy for our heart. Lentils (pulses) and beans can be cooked in a lot of different ways which I will mention below so if you are looking for what to eat for a healthy diet, my answer is pulses and beans. Lentils and beans are also good for people who want to maintain weight by diet as these food items are low in fat. Lentils and beans have a low glycemic index and are best for preventing and treating diabetes. Eating pulses keeps our hunger satisfied for a long time because their nutrients release slowly into our body.

Below are some great lentils and pulses recipes that you can prepare on your own at home.

Prepare Pigeon Pea Recipe (Arhar Dal) In My Style

  • Soak pigeon pea or arhar dal for 30 minutes in water.
  • Add oil/ghee in a pressure pan.
  • Add methi (fenugreek leaves) and cumin seeds.
  • Stir for a few seconds until they leave a distinct aroma.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and little garlic if you want.
  • Saute well.
  • Take the soaked pigeon pea out of water and add it to the tomatoes.
  • Add turmeric powder, salt sugar, and fry well.
  • Add water cover lid and pressure cook.
  • Open lid to check seasoning.
  • Your pigeon pea is ready.

Now eat with rice or chapatti.

Pigeon peas with rice
Pigeon peas with rice

How to prepare potato bean (aloor dal) recipe?

  1. Boil 3 or 4 big potatoes.
  2. Mash them while they are hot.
  3. Season with salt, keep aside.
  4. In a big pan, heat two tablespoon refined oil, stir in cumin seeds and sliced onion.
  5. Fry till golden brown, add mashed potato, pour in water (should not be too runny or too thick), let it boil for sometime, add salt if required, add little sugar, a pinch of turmeric, one tablespoons of ghee and chopped coriander leaves.
  6. While frying onion also put in chopped tomatoes.
  7. Now dish is ready. Eat with chapatti, Punjabi parantha, or rice.

Mutton dal
Mutton dal

Maangso Diye Dal -- Try It - Nonvegetarian's Delight

Ingredients (quantities are approximate, one may improvise):
  • Mutton- 200/250 gms (cut into small pieces – boneless preferable)
  • Chicken pea or arhar dal-(tur/tuvar dal) 1 cup (200/250 gms)
  • Ginger-30/40 gms (crushed/minced)
  • Green chilies - 5/6(crushed/minced)
  • Garlic-20-30 cloves (50% crushed, 50% chopped)
  • Tomato-1 large(cut into thin pieces)
  • Onion-1 large(chopped finely)
  • Red chilly powder-2 tsp (optional)
  • Coriander powder-1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
  • Butter/ghee/oil -1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves- 1½ - 2 sprigs
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar - 1 tsp(optional)


  • Wash the chicken peas very well and preferably soak them for 30 to 40 minutes before cooking if possible.
  • Boil/pressure cook chicken peas (arhar dal (tur/tuvar), mutton pieces, ginger, garlic (crushed portion), green chillies, tomato, onion, coriander powder, all together with enough water(2 /3 cups) for 15-20 minutes, on medium fire, or until it is cooked properly.
  • Add salt (if using sugar, also add it) and mix well.
  • Prepare the seasoning by roasting chopped garlic (until it becomes brownish) and curry leaves until it gives the aroma.
  • Heat ghee/butter/oil in a pan, add the above seasoning to the cooked pulses plus mutton plus other things and mix well.
  • (you may also fry the garlic and curry leaves and add it to the cooked dal + meat + etc. and then skip the next step above).
  • Now your dish is ready. Eat with rice or chapatti.
  • May garnish with coriander leaves and little lemon juice.

Easiest and simplest dal - mix pulses recipe
Easiest and simplest dal - mix pulses recipe

Mixed pulses recipe (Mixed dal) - Easiest One

  • Take green whole mung beans and Bengal gram dal in 1:1 ratio.
  • Soak in water for overnight.
  • Boil in pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder.
  • Heat some oil in a pan (ghee can make it tastier if you don’t mind for a few extra fat calories).
  • Add asafeotida (hing), bay leaf, and whole cumin seeds.
  • Now add the boiled pulses mixture and cook for some more minutes.
  • This mixed pulses recipe is generally served with chapattis.


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    • profile image

      Krissttina Isobe 6 years ago

      thanks for the informative article. I'll be sure to come back to it again.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes the content in this hub has been searched by many other people over the internet. I am happy that others are finding it helpful. Thanks for your comment and saving this hub ocbill.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I also love lentils too. These recipes are perfect for a new way. I'll have to save this page.


    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot devsir. I appreciate it.

    • devsir profile image

      devsir 7 years ago from Earth

      Very Tasty HUB

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you so much barryrutherford.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Maybe those lentils make one Sleepless in Seattle. Great hub love the images...

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thank you so much Internetwriter62 and Sandyspider. My basic purpose was not write recipes but somehow I had to because these dals are very delicious and we eat them three times during a week. I love dals as much as I love red meat.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice recipe and benefits hub.

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      I really like lentils, they are very nutritious. Thanks for the information on lentils. The recipes look very tasty. Rated it up.