Legumes, commonly referred to as beans, are an ample source of protein and fiber. According to Ayurveda, a balanced diet should contain legumes as they are very nutritious and pacify pitta and kapha. Legumes are astringent in taste. They help in developing all the ‘dhatus’ (tissues) of the body, especially the ‘mamsa dhatu’ (muscle tissue). Relatively low on fat, beans are very tasty and have the ability to easily satiate hunger. Legumes may be eaten fresh, frozen, canned or dried.

The history of legumes is closely linked with human civilization. They originated in Asia from where it spread to the western part of the world. Here they became an integrated part of the diet and often substituted for meat when the latter was scarce.

Legumes contain sugar (oligosaccharides) and fibers that are not digested in the small intestines. They are passed through to the large intestine, where they are broken down with the help of certain bacteria. As a result of this process, gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide are released. These gases cause bloating of the abdomen and in some cases they result in pain.

In order to reduce the gas- producing effect of legumes, it is soaked in room temperature for 6-8 hours before preparation. This rehydrates them and readies them for cooking. Changing the water, used for soaking, several times also helps to diminish gas-production. Spices such as asafetida, cumin seeds, thyme, rosemary, garlic, sage, ginger, fennel and black pepper are added to the preparation. These spices help in reducing the ‘vata’ or the gas produced by the legume.

‘Sundal’ is a special South Indian preparation and is a simple way of preparing legumes. This preparation is tasty, healthy, and rich in proteins and vitamins. The method of preparing sundal using a few legumes is detailed below.
  1. Green Gram
  2. Bengal Gram
  3. Peas Sundal
  4. Horse Gram Sundal
  5. Cow Peas Sundal
  6. French Bean Sundal
  7. Soya Bean Sundal
  8. Groundnut Sundal
  9. Moth Bean Sundal

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