Beans, Dahls and Lentils: Ayurvedic Source of Protein

For vegetarians, beans, dahls and lentils constitute an important source of nutrition - they provide protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins. As versatile as they are tasty, dahls and lentils lend themselves to being used to make salads, appetizers, soups, main dishes, sides and even dessert. They work well with other foods such as grains, vegetables, herbs and spices.

Mung beans, split, with skins removed (also known as mung dahl) are held to be excellent for all three doshas. Easier to digest than most other beans and dahls, mung dahl can be eaten everyday. When cooked, mung dahl takes on the consistency of porridge. This dahl is praised in ayurvedic texts for its nutritional value and ease of digestion.

If you have access to an Indian grocery store, here are some other Indian dahls you can try:

  • Toor dal - yellow, very nourishing, combines extremely well with vegetables.
  • Chana dal - also yellow, retains its shape even when fully cooked, and has a nutty flavor.
  • Urad dal - Found split and hulled, or split with the skins on.

Some tips for cooking with dahls and lentils:

  • Store dry beans and dahls in dry, airtight containers at room temperature.
  • Try and use dahls and lentils within six months -- the older they get, the longer they take to soak and cook because of lost moisture.
  • Sort dahls, beans and lentils before use - you may find an occasional small stone you'll want to remove before cooking.
  • Rinse several times before you cook.
  • Some beans need soaking to aid the cooking process.
  • Do not add salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice until the beans or dahls are cooked.
  • Ayurveda recommends eating beans, dahls and lentils that are well-cooked for easy digestion.
  • Adding spices such as cumin, black pepper and ginger to dahls and beans helps the process of digestion.

These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.

The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.