Lentils and Indian Spices

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Did you know that lentils are good for you? Before traveling to India, I was not that familiar with them but they are a staple in India. About 30% of lentil’s calories come from protein. Lentils contain dietary fiber, folate and B1 vitamins. They are quick to cook and easy to store. And they come in different varieties, colors, shapes and sizes.

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Indian spices also have many health properties. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and is being studied as a remedy for diseases including Alzheimer’s, arthritis and cancer. Cumin is an excellent source of iron, aids in digestion and may have anti-carcinogen properties. Coriander has been used to treat skin inflammation, lower cholesterol, aid in digestion and lower blood pressure. Fennel seeds contain anti-oxidants, are a rich source of fiber and contain many vitamins and minerals. There are many, many spices used in Indian cooking, each with their own beneficial qualities.

Recently I put these healthy ingredients together in a simple dal (lentil) dish. Using red lentils or masoor dal, they were simmered with turmeric and seasoned with salt. They were finished with asafetida, cumin seeds and red dried chiles that were quickly fried in ghee before being added (olive oil can be subsituted). The result was a warm, earthy and comforting dish that was filling and satisfying.

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