While sprouting of pulses and legumes has become quite popular of late, across the subcontinent sprouting has been done for hundreds of years, both as a way of maximising the nutritional benefits of these humble foods, as well as providing different textural profiles to a dish.
Pulses — chickpeas, lentils, dried peas and beans — are the dried edible seeds of legume plants. The terms ‘pulse’ and ‘legume’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but legume is a much broader category, applying to plants that enclose their fruit in pods, including all pulses, as well as fresh beans and peas, and surprising additions like peanuts and Australian native wattleseed.
These days you’ll find a wide variety of sprouted legumes readily available in health food stores and greengrocers, but making them yourself using certified organic seeds has to be better for you, and much more satisfying.
The first step is to fill your cupboards with a stockpile of dried and tinned pulses. Cost effective and shelf stable, they’re perfect for keeping in your pantry for those dreaded empty-fridge scenarios. While pre-soaking helps to reduce the cooking time of dried pulses by up to a quarter, and also helps with digestion, don’t forget that tinned pulses are an equally great alternative for all kinds of dishes when you are time poor. Dried lentils and split peas cook quickly, making them ideal for weeknight dinners, whereas dried beans and chickpeas will take much longer, and will require more planning.
Nutritionally there is little difference between the tinned and dried variety, other than the sodium that is added to the tinned version. Try to select tinned varieties with little or no added salt, and always rinse the contents thoroughly before using.
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