A horse gram curry Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: The health benefits of lentils and legumes have been discussed time and again by scientists and doctors. They are nutritious, wholesome and should form a major part of any balanced diet. But there is one particular legume which has been deprived of the spotlight it deserves, mainly because it is widely considered cattle fodder – the horse gram.

Consumed as a whole seed, as sprouts, or as whole meal in India, popular especially in southern Indian states, horse gram is a dark brown lentil which is round and flat in shape and is known by different names all over the world. It is called cowpea in English, habbul kulth in Arabic, kulti in Hindi, kollu in South India. It is available in sprouted form in a number of supermarkets here.

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology found that unprocessed raw horse gram seeds not only possess anti-hyperglycemic properties but also have qualities which reduce insulin resistance which makes it an essential food product for diabetics. Lentils are rich in B-complex vitamins, protein, iron, calcium, molybdenum and phenols.

Ayurvedic practitioners use them to treat a range of ailments like kidney stones, conjunctivitis, spleen enlargement, colic and weak liver, hypertension and gall stones among others.

Treating ailments

So how does one prepare them? Soak two or three tablespoons of horse gram in a sufficient amount of water overnight. The next morning, make it into a paste and consume it twice a day. You can also drink the drained water for added benefits. Adding a pinch of powdered horse gram to a glass of water and drinking it daily will help get rid of skin ailments and rashes. A study in India has demonstrated that horse gram extracts also help reduce cholesterol and fight obesity due to the phenol content. It contains high amounts of dietary fibre which help combat cholesterol. Horse grams also help dissolve kidney stones because it has diuretic properties.

Sprout horse grams to use in salads

It is fairly easy to grow sprouts from any legumes. Soak horse gram in a bowl - submerged in water. Once the gram is soft, drain the water, rinse and put it in a very thin cotton cloth, a cheese-cloth works best. Keep it in a dark place overnight. By the end of the second day small sprouts spring up. You can grow the sprouts to whatever length you desire and then add them to any dish.

Make sure the grains are soaked well and have enough air if you are putting them in a jar (keep the lid slightly open).

Don’t let the seeds ferment by soaking them for too long.

Sprouts are high in Vitamin A, thiamine, vitamin C, iron and potassium.

Sprouting them also helps to reduce the production of gas which helps to digest it much better than the dried horse gram.

Sprouted horse grams can be added to make salads healthier, alternatively it can be made into a standalone dish by adding finely minced onions, lemon juice, cilantro or coriander leaves and seasoning it with salt and pepper.

The writer is an intern at XPRESS