Lentils are a legume, that is, the seed of a plant that has pods. They have a wonderful earthy flavour and are very easy to cook, for unlike most other kinds of legumes, they require no advance soaking, and they cook in 30 minutes or less, so they can be prepared spontaneously.

Lentils are one of the first wild plants to be domesticated, dating back thousands of years B.C. They probably originated in the Near East or the Mediterranean area, and continue to be an important food in that part of the world. At present they are grown all over the world. India boasts the world’s greatest consumption of lentils,

Though lentils absorb strong seasonings beautifully, they are also delicious with just a little salt, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. They can remain whole if cooked briefly in gently simmering water, or become mushy and lose their shape if cooked for long. They are excellent in soups, salads, stews and casseroles.

As lentils are full of iron and protein, they are recommended in the diet of pregnant and nursing moms.