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Legume Origin Varieties
The plant belongs to the family Leguminosae (legume). The fruit of the plant is a pod containing seeds. These seeds are called Legume.
What is a Legume?
By definition, Legume are the dried seeds from a pod that develops from a simple carpel and opens up along its seams on two sides. Common Legumes include Peanuts, Beans, Peas, Clover and Alfalfa. It should be noted that the seams of the peanuts do not automatically open up when dried. Lentils and Pulse are varieties of Legume.
What are Lentils?
Lentils belong to legume family. The seeds are shaped like small flat round disks. They are available in a wide variety of colors; orange, black, green. The most common variety is Brown Lentil (Masoor). Brown Lentil are available in most of the American Grocery stores.
What are Grams?
This is left-over term from the British Raj. British called the unfamiliar Legume as Gram and identified them by either the color seed-coat or the place of use.
What are Pulse?
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines Pulse as an annual leguminous crops yielding from one to 12 seeds within the pod, harvested for the dry seeds. The definition excludes seeds that can used for extracting oil (Soya bean, Peanuts). According to this definition green peas and green beans are vegetable crops and not Pulse. The definition also excludes seeds grown for the sole purpose of sowing such as Cloves and Alfalfa.
Pulse in India
India is the world's largest producer and consumer of Pulse. The consumption far exceeds the production. This gap is filled with imports from Canada, Myanmar, Australia and USA.
Desi chickpeas (Desi Chana, Bengal gram)
This the most common variety and is used to make from Dal to various types of snacks. The milled flour is called Besan. Besan is used to make sweets and batter for deep-frying.
Pigeon peas (Arhar, Tuar, Red or Yellow gram)
This almost always hulled and split. Castor oil may be used as a preservative. Red variety is Popular in central and southern India. Yellow variety is common in North India.
Black Matpe (Mah, Urad, Urd, Black gram)
This is popular in all forms, whole, split, as well milled. Punjabis make Buttery Dal from whole Pulse. In UP, hulled split Pulse is used to make Dal. In South India, Idli and Dosa are major dishes.
Mung beans (Moong)
This is popular in all forms, whole, split, as well milled. Popular in eastern India and Maharashtra.
Consumed primarily in northern and eastern India.
Primarily used to make Dal.
Popular in Uttar Pradesh, eastern India (West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam), and southern India.
Garbanzo bean (Kabuli Chana)
This is the larger seed version of Desi Chana. Most popular in Punjab region.
Red Kidney beans (Rajma)
Most popular in Punjab region.
Black-eyed peas (Lobiya)
Consumed in most parts of the country
Legumes contain Protein, abundant Complex Carbohydrates (including soluble fiber), and almost no fat.. They also contain Calcium. Phosphorus, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, B6 vitamins, iron, and folic acid, The seed coat of Legumes have eight flavonoids, six of which are particularly strong antioxidants.
One cannot write about Legume without mentioning Soybeans. Soybeans is the most economically important commodity among Legumes alongside peanuts. The first recorded history dates back to 11th century, BC in Northeast China. Soybean has been a part of diet all over Asia. In 1851, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Edwards brought these seeds from Japan to United States that led to the success story as a commercial product around the world.
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