When it comes to healthy eating, the humble lentil is a nutritional secret weapon. Across the Middle East, we probably known and love it best in the form of lentil soup, but lentils also play a key role in one of Egypt’s national dishes, kushari – a beloved concoction of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, pasta, garlic, vinegar, and tomatoes. There are plenty of different types of lentils out there, from green and red to brown and black beluga, and they possess a wide variety of nutritional benefits. Lentils are high in fibre, protein, iron, and amino acids, and have been found to be good for our heart health, helping to keep diabetes under control, keeping our blood sugar levels calm (and our digestive systems running smoothly), and even building muscle. Thanks to their vitamin B and folic acid content, they’re also said to be great for women who are expecting. They’re also a great addition to people seeking to lose or maintain their weight – and are a staple in many vegan and vegetarian diets.
How do you use it?
Lentils aren’t just great in soup and koshari – but they’re also delicious when used in a variety of other soups, curries, stews, and sauce-based dishes. In fact, with so many different types of lentils available out there, you could go wild with the possibilities. Lentils can also make for great fritters or patties, and they can also make an amazing base for awesome vegetarian and vegan burgers. Lentils can also be used in a ragu as a substitute for a meat-based bolognaise sauce, and in pilafs and quiches. There are also now a wide range of lentil-based products available, such as lentil flour (which can be used to make everything from breads to muffins and more), or ready-made lentil pastas, which are an awesome alternative to traditional pastas for people who don’t consume gluten.
Lentils are one of the earliest-ever domesticated crops in the world, and are one of the oldest-known pulse crops. They’ve even been found in some Ancient Egyptians tombs that date as far back as 2400BC. Many of the lentils bought today are produced in Canada, India, and Australia.