Top 5 Indian recipes – dals rock and rule!

One very important part played in Indian diets is by the dried version of peas and beans called pulses. Pulses as well as lentils, legumes, beans and peas have been part of daily diet for times immemorial. The traditional Indian diet is healthy and nutritious and revolves around dal, bhaat (rice), sabzi (vegetables) and chapati. Moong ki Dal and Kali Dal are popular fare in homes in North India.

Pulses, as we all know, are the edible seeds of the legume family. Pulses include peas, beans and lentils. Some, as green French beans, papdi, green peas and broad beans are eaten fresh. Others, like moong, urad, chana and masoor are eaten dried or sprouted. Regardless of their place of origin, most of the pulses are available world-wide and have become widely naturalized outside their native regions. But greens combined with dal are also healthy preparations. Something like Methiwali Dal.

Beans are dried as quickly as possible after picking to preserve their flavour and texture. There used to be a time when most of the pulses were sundried, but now in the present days of automation, most of it is artificially dried. Most pulses are widely available and the lesser known can usually be found in specialized stores in wholesale grain market. Pulses keep well and are easily reconstituted but should be stored in a cool and dry place. The normal shelf life of dried beans and pulses is six to nine months, then they begin to harden and shrivel.

All types of beans and lentils are high in protein and 30 per cent more is released if they are eaten with a cereal. That is why, in India, dal is eaten mostly with rice or roti. Most pulses need soaking and cooking, the exact time depends on the particular type and quality of the bean. Beans and lentils should be picked over before washing and soaking to remove any stones or pieces of grit.

In the Indian kitchen, dal is ubiquitous. Egyptian lentils called masoor, black eyed peas called lobia and mung beans called moong are worth mentioning. Dishes like Sambhar and Rasam use split pigeon peas, Dhansak uses meat and lentils. Dosas also have rice and lentils like black gram or urad. Up north, urad is a favourite as is rajma and chana.

Nutrition – some hints for balanced eating

Eat a variety of foods in adequate amounts for each food has a different nutritional speciality. This way not only will your nutritional requirements be met, you will also be able to break the monotony of eating the same kind of food daily.

Always maintain a desirable body weight in order to prevent developing chronic diseases like diabetes or heart ailments or certain types of cancers. You can get this from the height-weight (easily available, especially with your GP) chart, which again is worked out, on the basis of your lifestyle.

Avoid foods rich in saturated fats and cholesterol as this can cause obesity, which in turn can give rise to heart ailments or diabetes or even certain types of cancer.

Eating foods with adequate fibres is considered very healthy for they not only provide bulk and thus prevent overeating, they also help prevent constipation, lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Though water is not considered as a nutrient, it is very essential for the upkeep of our bodies. Lack of water over a period can prove to be life threatening as it could lead to dehydration and even death.

Salads should always find place on your daily menu because being mainly vegetable based they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibres. Beans or sprouts add proteins and when combined with pastas like macaroni, spaghetti or roots like potatoes or beetroots the carbohydrate content is adequate. Something like Button Mushroom Salad is a nice offering.

Of all the non-vegetarian foods, fish is perhaps the most ideally designed for healthy and quick family meals. Healthy because most types of fish are very low in fat and high in protein. There are some fish which are oily but they are high in essential fatty acids. Fish and Green Mango Curry is perfect for this month.

Limit your intake of alcoholic drinks since they are high in calories but low in nutrients. The metabolites (end products) produced by alcohol are harmful to the body, especially to the liver.

Desserts are an important component of an enjoyable meal and if they are fruit based they also provide the desired nutrients because they are packed with vitamins and minerals and are high in fibers. Try Low cal Crunchy Fruits with Yogurt.

Adequate and regular exercises are necessary along with healthy eating to make way for a meaningful life devoid of health worries.