The lastest cold wave seemed to have set the stage for me. The timing seems to be just perfect! Well. as I writing this, I just realized that the Seasonal Chef has been also talking lentils – yes, I am a little slow that way! So, the good news is that you will have quite the collection of lentils done all different ways. In case, you have not noticed, I am using the terms legume and lentils interchangeably. The truth being, while lentils form a large segment of the legume universe, there are other legume varieties such as peas, peanuts and all kinds of fresh beans.
Legumes are the backbone of the Indian table, and yes, we actually do use the terms lentils and legumes interchangeably calling them pulses. Lentils are actually the oldest cultivated plants, going back to biblical times. In India, where there is a large vegetarian population, these lentils offer an essential source of nourishment and protein. This has fostered unique and delightful ways, with the humble legume. The trick however is that the average Indian pantry has dozens of varieties of lentils, in fact, almost rivaling their spice collection!
So, I will try the almost impossible – I will try to pick six of my favorite lentils and offer you ways to enjoy them, so stay tuned for a fun ride. This weeks we will begin with yellow split moong lentils, those are the tiny yellow ones to the left of the red lentils. I am pairing them with another wintery visitor in my kitchen – the fennel, specifically the fennel bulb. Fennel is composed of a white or pale green bulb from which closely superimposed stalks are arranged. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander
Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet, adding a refreshing contribution this time of the year. Now, that is another magical quality about Indian style lentils, you can make them a mind base for almost any vegetable of your choice, try this week’s recipe that matches the yellow lentils with fennel and spinach and tell me what you think?