By celebrating pulses in 2016, we can all help to increase public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses, how to use them as a good source of protein in our diet over meat, and encourage farm practices that use them in improved crop rotations to address soil health (last year’s International Year topic).
According to the United Nations, “pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between 1 and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod.” They are crops harvested for their dry grain which is used for both food and feed. Pulses include lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas and are a “critical source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe, as well as a source of plant-based protein for animals.”
Pulses play an important role in establishing food security and nutritious food accessibility world-wide, while also fixing nitrogen in the soil which can contribute to increased soil fertility. Health organizations are recommending pulses as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, and to prevent chronic diseases.
Here are five facts that were learned about pulses when the International Year of Pulses was launched back in November:
1. Pulses are an indispensable crop for vulnerable communities in developing countries.
2. Pulses have been an essential part of human diets for centuries.
3. Pulses consumption is declining as we have shifted to more meat-centric diets.
4. Science and technology innovations can help close the yield gap in pulses production.
5. Pulses production is highly water efficient, especially when compared to other protein sources.
Production of split peas or lentils for dhal, a favourite dish of mine, requires 50 litres of water per kilogram. “Conversely, one kilogram of chicken requires 4325 litres of water, one kilogram of mutton requires 5520 litres, and one kilogram of beef requires 13000 litres of water during production. Their small water footprint makes pulses production a smart choice in drier areas and regions prone to drought.” (Source, and of picture below: http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/news/news-detail/en/c/345401/)
Check here for some pulse recipes from around the world: RECIPES!
Here is my dhal recipe:
3tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½tsp ground turmeric (or more, since turmeric is one of the best as an inflammatory)
1 cup red split lentils
1tsp cumin seeds and/or add some skinned and chopped fresh tomatoes with the lentils or stir in some baby spinach or cilantro (coriander) leaves towards the end of cooking.
1. Soak lentils for at least an hour and wash until the water comes clean.
2. Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large pan, and brown garlic.
3. Add the turmeric lentils to pan and cook, stirring, for 1 min. Pour in 1.5 cups of water and some salt and bring to the boil.
4. Simmer for 20-25 mins until the lentils are very soft and nearly all the water has been absorbed.
5. Simmer, uncovered for a further 5-10 mins then beat the dhal with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with more salt.
6. In a small pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the cumin seeds for 1-2 mins. Spoon the seeds and oil over the dhal and/or stir in your fresh vegetable and serve.
I make a large pot of it so that I can eat it as my main source of protein for several days. It’s great with fried eggs in the morning!