Legumes: A Staple of Culinary Masterpieces
The taste and nutritional value of legumes were appreciated many thousands years ago: one of the frescoes in Ancient Egypt portrays a pharaoh holding a branch of a chickpea plant. In present times, different world cuisines use such legumes as beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, dal (Indian peas), black gram, and soy. Their primary nutritional value is their high content of vegetable protein and dietary fiber. That is why legumes are a staple food in the diets of vegetarians or people observing lent.
Carbohydrates contained in legumes take a long time to digest and so they provide the feeling of satiation for a long time. And dietary fibers, in addition to satiation, also stimulate the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and lower blood cholesterol. Furthermore, legumes are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins A, C, PP, minerals – potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur and ferrum. Molybdenum contained in legumes neutralizes harmful preservatives and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Moreover, carbohydrates from legumes don’t require insulin for digestion. Because of that, legumes are especially beneficial for people with diabetes.
Dishes prepared with legumes normalize the endocrine profile, strengthen our heart and blood vessels. Legumes also improve our memory and productivity, and thanks to their antioxidants they boost the immune system and remove toxins. Lysine contained in these acts as an anti-depressant, while phytoestrogens (they are especially abundant in soy) are good for female health.
And yet, legumes should not be consumed in great quantities and every day, because they are difficult to digest and may cause bloating. In no circumstances should you eat them raw because they contain toxins (except for green beans and peas). To speed up the cooking time of these products and to prevent stomach bloating, you need to soak the legumes in a large amount of water for several hours. Later, you need drain the water and replace it with fresh water. If you cook the legumes properly and eat them in moderation, they can be a genuine treasure chest of nutritious elements.
And the myriad dishes prepared from legumes! You can cook soup from green peas, beans, and lentils, you can mash them into wonderful side dishes, you can add them to salads, porridges, sauces, and burgers. In the Middle East, they make a delicious tender hummus from chickpeas. In India, they prepare dal from peas with piquant spices and make kachori with black gram. And the Caucasian lobbio with beans won the hearts of numerous foodies. Other national dishes that have their unique taste are the Uzbek pea pilaf, the Indian pea and rice khichri with vegetables and chili pepper, cabbage rolls with chickpea, chickpea balls, chanakh (beans and potato stewed in a pot).
Soy is the all-time favorite of vegetarians and athletes and it is now an integral part of the healthy eating industry. It is used to produce milk, coffee creamer, mayonnaise, soy cheese, tofu and okara. Tofu is added to soups and salads; it is fried, boiled and roasted. Fermented soy beans are used to make a salad dressing called miso which is also used in soups. Soy products substitute meat for many people, in such dishes as cooked and smoked sausage, goulash soup, schnitzel, boeff stroganoff, burgers, bratwursts and wieners. Many of you will find soy sauce in your fridge, which can be used in marinades, salad dressings, and other dishes.
Legumes are also a basis for extraordinary desserts. For example, in the East they cook chickpea pancakes with sweet sauce, dried fruit balls, sweets made of chickpea flour, sugar, and nuts. Fans of healthy eating like desserts made of tofu: creams, parfaits, cheese cakes and also soy ice cream.
In Russia and Ukraine, legumes are used to prepare many national dishes. One of the most popular soups is pea soup, while beans are a mandatory ingredient of the traditional borscht. Green peas and boiled beans are also components of favorite “popular” salads. Korchma offers its patrons delicious and healthy dishes with legumes. First of all, a fragrant pea soup with smoked meat made in our own smoking house served with garlic wheat toasts. The tender taste and heartiness of beans in our borscht (either in the traditional one with meat or the lenten one with smoked pear) will be to its fans’ liking. The Vinegret salad, thanks to a combination of all of its ingredients – vegetables and beans – is a genuine vitamin cocktail. And the iconic Russian salad (with sausage or chicken) with green peas as an ingredient, dressed with home-made mayonnaise will embellish your meal.
Green peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes play an important part in the lives of people all over the world. The wide variety of dishes made of these products is astonishing. And if peas and beans are well incorporated into our cuisine, then chickpeas, for instance, are still a novelty for most chefs. You can try treating your family to something new by preparing a tender hummus from our recipe:
You will need:
- dried chickpeas – 300 g;
- sesame seeds – 100 g;
- garlic – several cloves;
- cumin – half a spoonful;
- lemon juice – 3-5 tablespoons;
- olive oil;
Wash the chickpeas and soak them in water overnight. Drain the water and fill the pot with fresh water. Do not add salt. Cook for about two hours before ready. The chickpeas need to turn very soft. Drain the broth into a separate container (you will need it later). Pour cumin onto a dry frying pan and let it heat for a few minutes until you can smell a slight aroma. Transfer the cumin into a coffee grinder and grind it. Then put the sesame seeds on the frying pan and brown them. Let it cool down and then grind in a coffee grinder. Transfer the ready spices into a blender. Add the peeled garlic, a sprinkle of salt, and olive oil. Puree it until uniform. Add the cooked chickpeas, then puree all the ingredients in a blender. Start adding the chickpea broth into the mashed substance while still blending it. Taste it as you go and add lemon juice and salt if needed. The puree should be uniform. Place the ready hummus on a plate and sprinkle it with olive oil. You can spice it with paprika. Serve cold with pita or flatbread.