Friday, July 1, 2016

20 delicious recipes for the Year of the pulse

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The United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses with the aim to increase the awareness of the innumerable benefits of pulses. Pulses, also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Pulses have an excellent nutritional profile, are extremely affordable, environmentally sustainable and have the potential to address the global food security. Here is a peek into the world of pulses.

Nutritional profile
  • Lentils are a good source of protein (deliver double the protein per serving of quinoa). So they have the potential for being the primary source of protein for those on a vegetarian and vegan diets. Sprouted pulses and beans have even an higher protein content than non sprouted.  
  • Excellent source of fiber (all pulses have four times more fiber than brown rice).
  • Rich in folic acid, iron and potassium. 
  • High in antioxidants (per serving, red kidney beans have higher antioxidant content than blueberries and pomegranate juice)
  • Are gluten-free, so great for those on special diets.
  • Sodium and cholesterol-free.

Environmental benefits - Lentils and pulses are environmentally sustainable crops. Have a look at the following benefits of farming these crops.
  • Pulse crops are natural fertilizers. They enrich the soil by fixing the nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. 
  • They can grow in harsh environments (drought tolerant and frost hardy). 
  • Have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food group.
  • Require little or no irrigation - so very water efficient.

Pulses are one of the most cost-effective proteins around, enjoyed by people around the world as a food staple. India has over 60 varieties of pulses which provides the primary source of protein for her millions of vegetarians. Pulses have a long shelf life, so can always be at hand regardless of the season.

Versatile and delicious
Pulses and legumes make for extremely versatile ingredients for curries, stuffing, appetizers and more. Here are 20 delicious recipes using beans and legumes ranging from appetizer dishes to lunch bowls, dinner dishes and more. In case of whole beans and pulses, soaking overnight is recommended. This considerably reduces the cooking time. Use of pressure cooker can also help cook beans very fast. Rinsing the soaked beans can get rid of some of the starch content (also some nutrients). Adding aromatics such as ginger and garlic while cooking can not only enhance flavor but also combat flatulence.


1. Green beans and Bengal gram stir fry (बीन्स और चना दाल)
This recipe here is a combination of green beans and split Bengal gram. The soaked and toasted pulse adds a wonderful texture to the dish and tastes great with roti. Make a wrap with this stir fry ans salsa and a hint of cheese for a delicious lunch.

2. Skinned black gram and green onion stir fry (धुली उरद और हरा प्याज़)
Ivory White Lentils are split and skinned Black Lentils. These creamy white tiny seeds have a mild, earthy flavor. They are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. There is no need to soak them as they cook quite quickly. Use them in soups, stews, stir-fry, spreads and dips.

3. Long squash and split peas curry (घिया और चना दाल)
This dish is a combination of split peas and long squash. This cylindrical-shape vegetable has a smooth light green skin and encases a creamy white flesh with petite seeds. Cooked with herbs and spices in an onion tomato curry base this is a hearty dish paired with steamed rice and is perfect for those cold winter eves.

4. Fenugreek and mung dumplings (मेथी मंगौड़ी)
A unique very earthy and rustic dish from the Marwadi kitchen. This lip smacking stir fry can be made in minutes and adds a multitude of flavor to the dinner table.

5. Cabbage and Bengal gram stir fry (पत्ता गोभी और चना दाल)
Combining cabbage with a pulse ups its protein and fiber content and enhances the flavor. Pair with roti and a side dish of raita.

6. Split red gram with spinach and fenugreek (पालक मेथी वाली अरहर दाल)

Earthy with the goodness of leafy greens. Serve with rice and plain yogurt for a very satisfying lunch. A real comfort food for those lazy days.

    This is a deconstructed burrito, largely inspired by Chipotle's burrito bowl. Rice is aromatic with a wonderful lime flavor, black beans are simmered in garlic and cumin, peppers have a charred grilled taste, corn adds the sweetness. Omit chicken to make it vegetarian. 

    Sprouting beans increases their nutritive value by decreasing their calorific content by 15%, increasing their protein availability by 30% and increasing their vitamin A, B, C content by an astounding amount. Sprouts are rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Sprouts should preferably be eaten raw or briefly steamed lest they loose much of the vitamins.

    This salad has nutrition galore and makes a great lunch or side dish. Add some lime juice to avocado to prevent discoloration. Prepare the salad complete with dressing and pack for lunch with an ice pack or prepare salad and dressing separately and pack for lunch in separate containers. Toss with the dressing just before eating . 

    This salad recipe makes for an excellent lunch for school and work. Can be eaten cold, warm or at room temperature.

    These Mexican - inspired stuffed green peppers are filled with a blend of brown rice, black beans and corn. They are hearty, delish and a great option for a vegetarian meal. You can use Poblano peppers instead of the sweet green ones or even multi colored peppers for a pretty presentation. 

    This recipe here has a great blend of flavors with mint and lime juice. The sweet and tart cranberries add the perfect punch and color.  

    13. Falafal 
    Chick pea fritters or falafels are well known Middle eastern street food. Easy to make at home and these can be served in different ways. Serve them with a dip as party appetizers, inside a wrap or pita pocket with all the fix ins, or just serve them over salad.

    Savory, tangy, spicy little fried dumplings. Moong dal pakoda or ram laddoo, a popular street food in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, are fried nuggets made of moong dal, served with a generous helping of grated radish, sweet tamarind chutney and spicy mint coriander chutney. A great starter to serve at your next party. 

    Rajma chawal, the famous duo is a Punjabi (North Indian) comfort food. Curried red kidney beans served on a bed of steamed rice hits the spot on a cold wet evening. A perfect one dish meal for Sunday lunch.

    Curried dry yellow peas smoking hot with an assortment of sides - onion tomato salsa, green chilies, lemon slices served with baked kulchas. 

    17. Curried Black gram
    Fibre rich, high in iron and protein. 
    1 1/2 cup Black bengal gram whole soaked overnight
    2 large tomatoes pureed
    1 inch ginger grated
    salt to taste
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1 tbs coriander powder
    red chili powder
    2 tbs canola oil
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    2-3 whole cloves
    1. In a pressure cooker pour oil. whet hot add cumin seeds and cloves and let them sputter for 10-15 seconds.
    2. Add tomato puree and ginger and all the spices. Mix well and stir for 2 minutes till tomatoes cook a little.
    3. Now add the chane along with the water. Since its a dry dish make sure water is levelled with the chane in the pressure cooker so that its enough to not burn the dish but isn't too much to make it runny.
    4. Mix well and close the lid. When the pressure cooker whistles, reduce the heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and carefully open the lid. If there is excess water then cook on high while constantly stirring till the water evaporates and chane leave some oil along the sides.
    6. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with poori or roti.

    18. Curried Chickpeas (Pindi choley)
    Named after its city of origin "Rawalpindi" this dish is a big favorite in our house. Original recipe calls for a lot more oil and very little water. I have modified it a bit to suit our needs without compromising the taste. This curried dish is different from other Indian curries as in the absence of onion and tomato. The dark color is due to the anardana (crushed pomegranate seeds) which also gives it a slight sour flavor.
    Ingredients: (serves 4)
    1 cup Chickpeas soaked overnight and drained
    3 cups water
    salt to taste
    11/2 tbsp coriander powder
    1 tbsp anardana (pomegranate seeds) powder 
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp black pepper powder
    red chili powder to taste
    1 tbsp oil
    2 cloves whole
    1 small cinnamon stick
    1 black cardamom whole
    1. In a pressure cooker put soaked and drained chickpeas along with salt. Cook on high till the first whistle, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
    2. While the chickpeas are boiling take the rest of the powered spices in a moderately hot pan and dry roast on medium high heat till the color changes to a darker brown and the spices impart a gentle roasted aroma.
    3. Wait for 10 minutes before opening the pressure cooker. Now add the roasted spices to the boiled choley and mix well. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors blend in.
    4. In another pan heat oil and add the whole spices. Let sputter for 30 seconds and carefully add the spiced choley to it.
    5. Cook on high while stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes. If the dish looks too dry add some water. Remember that chickpeas are very high in fiber and absorb a lot of moisture. So if you serving the dish after some time make sure to adjust its consistency before serving by adding some boiling hot water.
    6. Garnish with sliced red onions and slit green chilies.
    7. Serve with Naan, poori or roti.

    A wonderful dish for Sunday lunch. This one pot meal is sure to be a hit around the table as it combines the earthiness of chickpeas with the rich vibrancy of achari (pickle) flavors. Addition of fennel and nigella seeds adds the pickle like taste while the bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon add the pulao flavors. Serve with a refreshing mixed salad raita and a crunchy papad.

    This is a very simple lunch idea but is a complete meal on its own.  Serve with plain yogurt for a refreshing and wholesome combo. 

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