Lentils are eaten by people of various cultures all over the world. The tiny, colorful legumes, which originated in the Middle East, are a tasty, nutritious vegetable that can accompany a number of types of proteins including fish, chicken and beef. Lentils are fairly easy to prepare by boiling. However, different types of lentils may require different cooking times.
Lentils are a type of pulse, an annual plant including other popular legumes, such as the garden pea, lima beans and chickpeas. Lentils and other beans are called dal (in combination with other Hindi words) when prepared in India and other East-Asian countries. Lentils cannot be eaten raw; they are usually boiled or stewed. Regardless of the type of lentil, boiling for 10 to 30 minutes yields a tender, edible legume. Many people describe lentils as having an "earthy" flavor. Lentils do not need to be soaked before boiling. Lentils have high amounts of iron, protein and other vitamins.
Small and Split Lentils
A few species of lentils naturally grow very small. These include Eston Green, Golden Petite and Black or Beluga lentils (named for their resemblance to Beluga caviar). One cup of these lentils boiled in 4 cups of water cooks in 20 minutes. Split red, green and yellow lentils (lentils that have been cut in half) also have a similar cook time, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes.
Medium and Large Lentils
Medium and large lentils take longer to cook than smaller varieties and decorticated varieties. Brown/Spanish Pardina lentils belong in this group and are clay-colored. French Green or Puy lentils are dark blue-green. Yellow or Tan lentils, which are actually red inside, are also a large variety. Richlea are medium, light-green and Laird are large and deep green. Lastly, Masoor lentils are deep red with brown skins and Macachiados are giant, yellow lentils from Mexico. These varieties take between 25 and 30 minutes to cook 1 cup in 4 cups of water.
Decorticated lentils are lentils that have had their husks, or outer covering, removed mechanically. This is not necessary because the husk is entirely edible, but removing it results in a quicker cook time. Decorticated lentils may be sold as "quick-cooking" lentils. Petite Red lentils are decorticated Masoor lentils. Red Chief lentils are decorticated yellow lentils. These lentils can be boiled and ready in as little as 10 minutes.
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