White Lentils (Lens esculenta) are a creamy white colored small lentil. White Lentils are peeled Black Lentils, in India they are known as Urid dal. Traditionally in South Indian cooking White Lentils and rice are ground into a flour and used to make idlis and dosas. White Lentils are 1/2 cm. wide with a mild, earthly flavor and soft texture. This tiny lens shaped pulse has traditionally been used as a meat substitute (a pulse is the dried seed of any legume, such as beans and peas). Lentils are the seed of a small shrub and are dried after harvesting. Lentils have been eaten for over 8000 years and originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River. They are a staple food for many South Asian cultures.
The quick cooking and nutritious nature of lentils make them an obvious choice for winter soups. They're delicious in chilled vegetable salads, or mix with bread crumbs, minced onion and garlic to stuff roasted red peppers or eggplant.
Lentils do not require soaking. Simmer 1 cup lentils with 4 cups water 12 minutes for salads, 20 to 25 minutes for main dishes. Skim the water while cooking, drain. One cup dry yields 2-1/4 cups cooked.