Lentils and beans are the cornerstone of Indian food. In fact, a colloquial phrase for "meal" is "daal roti" literally meaning lentils and bread. Lentils have had the slightly unfair reputation of being the poor man's protein, but it is, and has always been, so much more. Yes, people, lentils and beans are exciting. They are our dessert island ingredient as you can cook them into a snack, a curry, a bread and even delicious deserts with them.

Simply choose a daal to find out more...

Thousands of years ago, Indian food was heavily influenced by the principles of Ayurveda, an ancient system of how to be healthy. Local ingredients and spices were woven together into meals that were designed to keep the population healthy. It believed that we are in charge of our health and the first step is what we eat as that is how we get all the nutrients we need to function. Lentils are one of those essential ingredients and were indelibly stamped into the cuisine and despite the many later culinary influences of the Moghuls, British and Portuguese to name a few, they remain fundamental to Indian food. And with good reason.

These unassuming little nuggets are a real health powerhouse. They are known to reduce cholesterol as they are full of soluble fibre, which is also really good for digestive health and as good health starts in the gut, it's pretty crucial! They contain a lot of magnesium and folate which are both really important for the heart. They are also a good source of iron without the fat (that would come with steak for example). They are also a low GI food, about one third protein and when consumed with carbohydrates, they slow the release of carbohydrates and therefore sugar entering the blood stream.

They are worth including regularly for the healthy minded but also, when made into curries, they taste so good!

That's the upside, the downside is they can take a fair amount of time to cook and even longer if they need soaking. Even canned versions will require time, effort and many ingredients so we thought it made good sense to soak, spice and cook them for you, so you can have dinner on the table in just 5 minutes.

There are so many worthy legume dishes to choose from, in a country which has more options than any other. We have chosen four of our favourites: Classic Tarka Daal, the Delhi Black Makhni Daal, the Punjabi Channa Masala and Bengali Coconut Daal. They are all different, all delicious and all hit the spot!

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