Lentil or lens culinaris is a type of bean in Fabaceae family and is one of the oldest plants which cultivated around 8000-11000 years BC from the Near East. This type of bean is used very popular in many countries especially South Asia, West Asia and the Mediterranean.
Lentil plant is bushy annual plant with the height about 40cm. The fruit is pod with possibly 1-2 seeds inside, but usually 2 seeds. Its seed is small as the eraser on top of a pencil and could be in flat round, oval or heart-shaped. The color of lentil is also vary, from green, brown color which are most popular to yellow, red, orange even black.
The lentil plants are drought tolerant and could be grown widely around the world especially the tropical and subtropical regions.
Lentil as food
Lentil is in the top of bean types which contains high level of protein in bean family. It places the second after soybean for the protein ratio. Beside, lentil also contains number of other nutrients as fiber, folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamins (B, C), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc…) and other substances.
Lentil (whole or split, with or husk removed) could be cooked without pre-soaking, the cooking time is about 10-40 minutes depends on types. This bean is used as food in many areas. It is usually cooked with rice in Arab countries, India, Egypt or combined with other ingredients to make salads, stews, curies, soups or sweets in Europe, North and South America, Indian Subcontinent, Ethiopia…
The dried lentil could be used to be sprouted. The nutrients from the bean could be increased as well as the undesirable phytic acid could be reduced this way. The sprout is used to make varieties nutritional dishes as salads, stir-fries…
With high nutrition level, lentil runs as an effective dietary in different areas from the ancient time till today.
Lentil with religious and cultural meaning
Lentil is considered as a type of food with religious and cultural meaning for its long time knowing. There were many story and custom which are related to this bean. We could account some among those:
In the Old Testament, lentil was mentioned when had been joined as an exchanged dish-a plate of stew lentil to the birthright of Jacob from his brother Esau. For Catholic, many Christians also use lentil during the Lent.
Or as cultural meaning, while in Italy and Hungary the round shape of lentil is considered as a traditional symbol for hope and prosperous in the New Year Eve for it looks like small coin, it is the symbol of the life cycle to the Jewish mourners…
This bean is also eaten traditionally in India and other Africa and Europe countries.