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Types of pulses in India and their nutritional value

A kitchen pantry in India is incomplete without jars and packets of overflowing pulses. And while our mothers may know all there is to know about Indian pulses and the types of pulses in India, younger generations are more likely to be a little stumped when starting out with cooking. 

To begin with, pulses belong to the legume family and are the dried seeds of the legume pods. Pulses include lentils and beans. While daal is often assumed as a lentil, the term actually translates to a pulse that has been split in half. So channa split in half is called channa daal.

Broadly speaking, there are different types of pulses available, which are mainly of three kinds – the whole pulse on its own, the split pulse with the skin still on and with the skin removed. Used in a variety of different foods, here is a list of pulses in India that are most commonly used, as well as each one’s nutritional value.

1. Mung beans
Mung, also known as moong and green gram beans, are small beans that are originally green in colour. Mung beans are one of the most famous pulses in India and are actually native to India. The whole beans can be sprouted and served as a tasty snack. They are often added to salads. Split mung beans are used to make yellow daals and curries, and is a vital ingredient in India’s beloved khichdi recipes. 

Nutritional value of mung: 

  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • Rich in essential amino acids, which are vital components your body cannot produce on its own
  • One of the best plant-based sources of protein
  • Has a high anti-oxidant level
  • Sprouted mung beans contain very few calories
  • Can prevent heat stroke
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Can reduce high blood pressure and high blood sugar level
  • Aids digestion

2. Toor
Toor is one of the most important lentils in any Gujarati household. Known as yellow pigeon peas or arhar, they are commonly used in preparing curries with a tadka. Split pigeon peas are a staple in Gujarati daal and the South Indianbise bele bhath since they offer a balance between sweet, spicy and sour.

Nutritional value of toor:

  • Rich in healthy carbohydrates
  • Is a good source of protein
  • High fibre content
  • Rich in iron and calcium
  • Can lower the risk of heart disease
  • Aids digestion
  • Can help you manage your weight as it keeps you full longer 

3. Rajma
Paired with rice, rajma prepared in a tomato-based gravy is a favourite across homes in India. They’re also known as kidney beans and are soaked to make curries or are cooked to be used in salads as well.

Nutritional value of rajma:

  • Rich in soluble fibre content
  • Helps prevent diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Can prevent Alzheimer’s 
  • Contains vitamin thiamine 
  • Prevents adverse effects of muscle soreness and migraines
  • Can help meet daily protein requirements
  • A high number of anti-oxidants

4. Channa 
This pulse has many names – garbanzo, chickpea, and Bengal gram. This kind of pulse is found in two different forms based on size. The smaller form is a darker bean and is known as desi channa. The larger bean has white skin and is known as Kabuli channa and used in several different dishes.

Nutritional value of channa:

  • Rich source of vitamins and minerals
  • Rich source of fibre
  • Improves digestion
  • Aids weight management
  • High in protein 
  • Serves as a great replacement for meats
  • Reduces the risk of several diseases
  • Has a low calorie density
  • Can help manage blood sugar levels

5. Urad
Similar in size to mung, these beans are black in colour and are known as black gram beans. They have an earthy flavour. This variety of pulses is used to cook daal makhani, a creamy and flavourful type of daal made in India. It is also used to make papads, idlis and dosas.

Nutritional value of urad:

  • One of the richest sources of vitamin B
  • Packed with protein, fats and carbohydrates
  • Is full of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium
  • Rich in fibre
  • Great for pregnant women
  • Improves digestion
  • Is a great food for heart health
  • Prevents atherosclerosis
  • Improves blood circulation

6. Masoor
Masoor is a red lentil which is brown in colour and has an orange interior. Most commonly found in north India, it is used to prepare daal, soups and other curries. 

Nutritional value of masoor:

  • Rich in dietary fibre
  • Low in glycemic index making it a good regulator of blood sugar levels
  • Great food for people with diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Helps aid weight loss
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Reduces cell damage 
  • Type of anti-ageing food
  • Rich in calcium and magnesium

These are just a few of the many types of pulses in India that are used in almost every Indian dish one way or the other. Whether you’re using these for khichdi or daal, or if you’re trying your hand at a healthier version of dosas and idlis, visit Wonderchef for a range of kitchenware that you can cook in.

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