Dried Beans and Peas

Dried Beans and Peas

Dried beans feature in traditional cuisines all over the world, from Mexican re-fried beans to Italy's pasta e fagioli. They are nutritious, providing a good source of protein when combined with rice, and are a marvelous store cupboard standby.

Black-eyed Beans : Sometimes called black-dyed peas, these small cream-colored beans have a black spot or eye. When cooked, they have a tender, creamy texture and a mild smoky flavor. Black-eyed beans are widely used in Indian cooking.

Chana Dhal : Chana dhal is very similar to yellow split peas but smaller in size and with a slightly sweeter taste. It is used in a variety of vegetable dishes.

Chick-peas : These round beige-colored pulses have a strong, nutty flavor when cooked. As well as being used for curries, chick-peas are also ground into a flour which is widely used in many Indian dishes such as pakoras and bhajees.

Flageolet Beans :  Small oval beans which are either white or pale green in color. They have a very mild, refreshing flavor and feature in classic French dishes.

Green Lentils : Also known as continental lentils, these have quite a strong flavor and retain their shape during cooking. They are very versatile and are used in a number of dishes.

Haricot Beans : Small, white oval beans which come in different varieties. Haricot beans are ideal for Indian cooking because not only do they retain their shape but they also absorb the flavors of the spices.

Kidney Beans :  These are small, round green beans with a slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture. When sprouted they produce the familiar beansprouts.

Red Split Lentils : A readily available lentil that can be used for making dhal. Use instead of toovar dhal.

Toovar Dhal : A dull orange-colored split pea with a very distinctive earthy flavor. Toovar dhal is available plain and in an oily variety.

Soaking and Cooking Tips : Most dried pulses, except lentils, need to be soaked overnight before cooking. Wash the beans thoroughly and remove any small stones and damaged beans. Put into a large bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. When cooking, allow double the volume of water to beans and boil for 10 minutes. This initial boiling period is essential to remove any harmful toxins. Drain, rinse and cook in fresh water. The cooking time for all pulses varies depending on the type and their freshness. Pulses can be cooked in pressure cooker to save time. Lentils, on the whole, do not need soaking. They should be washed in several changes of cold water before being cooked.

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