Pulses are the dried, edible seeds of leguminous plants, such as peas and lentils, haricot, butter and soya beans. Pulses form an important part of the diet in India and South East Asia because of their high protein and calorie content. They should not, however, be regarded as a staple diet as they contain neither vitamin A nor vitamin C, but they may supplement fresh vegetables.
To prepare pulses for cooking, soak them for at least
6 hours or overnight before cooking. Do not soak them for more than
12 hours or they will start to ferment. Drain the pulses, place them in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Bring the water to the boil over moderately high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer them for
2 hours or until they are very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the pulses in a colander. The cooking liquid may be reserved for use as stock.
Lentils require no soaking and take from 45 minutes to ½ hours to cook. Pulses are delicious served hot with butter or with a savoury sauce. Pulses may be served cold, dressed with vinaigrette, as a salad.
The Indian name for pulse is DHAL and further information is given under that heading.