Cereals and pulses are the most basic and essential ingredient in every kitchen. No Indian cuisine is complete without a variety of pulses and cereals. No Indian meal is complete with at least one kind of dal. Be it moong dal or chana dal, be it the masoor or the white lobia, each of these have a special place in our kitchen.
Grains like oats and millet are now becoming more popular, and these cereals are being used extensively to create healthy, guilt-free desserts and baked goods like cakes, cookies and bread.
While the term cereals and pulses are used together, they both are different from one another. Let's understand what these are and their benefits.
Cereals are better known as grain crops. Crops like wheat, rice, barley, maize, millets, oats, and rye all belong to the category of cereals. Most cereals can be cooked and eaten whole or ground into flour and used to make bread, cakes and other variety of foods.
Cereals are low fat, have high nutritional value and are packed with vital vitamins and minerals. Indian breakfasts are mainly made of cereals. Whether you eat roti or paratha or a poha or upma or oats for that matter, all these are variants of grains. They provide fibre and keep you full.
Pulses are better known as legumes and mainly consist of beans, peas and lentils. All the varieties like chole, rajma, chana dal, black chana, sabut moong, green matar, white lobia, moong chilka, moong dhuli, urad chilka, urad sabut, urad dhuli, red masoor and more are categorised under pulses.
Pulses like beans, lentils and peas provide the body with protein. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium and foliate which are required by the bones and blood. The nutrition from proteins is essential in the maintenance of the skin and hair. Pulses play a significant role in helping build the immunity. A robust immune system is vital to fight infections and diseases.
Their glycemic index is low and fibre content is high. They are essential components in every kitchen.
The reason cereals and pulses go together is because they are paired in a way that they complement each other. In Indian homes, rotis and dal or dal and rice are served together. There will be vegetables and other condiments that will accompany the meal, but the main course will always have rice or roti and dal. The reason for this is that a complete meal should have all the components. The proportion of carbohydrate to protein matters.
We consume more carbohydrates as compared to protein and legumes are a rich source of protein. Therefore, a right combination of the two ensures that one gets the required amount of nutrition.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in the body and cereals are mainly carbohydrates. They provide energy to all the organs in the body and the cells. Cereals also have fibre which is essential for the wellbeing of the body. Fibre aids digestion and keeps the blood sugar levels under control. Cereals like oats, millets don't just help in providing energy but also help in ensuring a proper meal which keeps the weight under control.
These are little green seeds which are yellow on the inside. They are used in cooking both sweet as well as savoury dishes. They are eaten as a whole, split with skins, split with skins removed and sprouted. The moong dal with skins is mainly used for savoury dishes and the ones without the skin are used to make desserts.
Urad dal is also known as black gram and looks similar to the moong dal. The only difference is, it is black on the outside and white on the inside and tastes very different. It is known for its earthy flavour and creamy texture when cooked. Dal makhani is a favourite dish made from urad dal. Papad or poppadums are made of urad dal.
The masoor dal is brown on the outside and orange on the inside. It has an earthy flavour and is used to make dals and soups.
The chickpea or the chana is available in two types. The larger white ones are called Kabuli chana, and the smaller dark-skinned ones are called chana. The split chana is used to make flour which is commonly called besan and is an essential kitchen ingredient.
Black eyed peas are also known as white lobia and are used in making dals and curries.
Kidney beans or Rajma have a nice texture and an earthy flavour. Rajma curry and rice are one of the most popular dishes in India. Rajma needs to be soaked overnight before cooking.
Peas are commonly used across India to make curries and stews. It is also used in popular street food. They have a mild earthy texture and nice mouth feel.
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