Lentils are to India as meatloaf is to America: the quintessential comfort food. Ranging from yellow and red to deep black, these tiny disc-shaped members of the legume family are eaten in some form at least twice a day in “any self-respecting Indian household..

This superfood gives you protein and cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, as well as about twice as much iron as other legumes. And lentils are higher in most B vitamins and folate, which is especially important for women of childbearing age because folate reduces the risk of birth defects. Plus, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers discovered that the pigment in Beluga black lentils acts like an antioxidant and helps protect against heart disease, cancer, and the aging process in general.

Lentils can be stored a long time, are easy to make, and are one of the cheapest protein sources. And unlike other legumes, you don’t have to soak them before cooking. Just rinse them in cold water and simmer in water or broth. Enjoy them plain or spiced with herbs, onions, or garlic.

There are many different types of lentils

Brown Lentils

These are the most common type of lentils found in stores. The have a mild flavor and can be used in many different types of recipes. They tend to get mushy if cooked too long. They are good in lentil soup.

Black or Beluga Lentils

These lentils are small, delicate, and black and are shiny like Beluga caviar when cooked, hence their name. They are more expensive than other lentils. Use them in lentil soup or salads.

Green Lentils
Like French green lentils, green lentils don't turn mushy as fast as some other lentils.

Red Chief Lentils or Split Red Lentils

Salmon colored lentils that turn golden when cooked. They get soft fast and are therefore great in soups.

Petite Crimson Lentils
These are very small lentils that cook very fast and are about a third the size of other lentils.

Yellow Lentils or Toor Dal

These lentils are yellow with a mild flavor. In India, they are often ground into a flour.

White Lentils
These are black lentils that have had their black skins removed to reveal the white interior.

Split Black Lentils
Black lentils that have been split but not skinned, giving

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