Split red lentils are made from splitting the whole red lentil. The skin is removed and the remaining reddish-orange seed is then split into two halves.
Lentils have been part of the human diet since the a ceramic before pottery Neolithic times, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago.
Lentil colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. Lentils also vary in size (e.g. Masoor lentils, shown in photos here), and are sold in many forms, with or without the skins, whole or split.
The lentil plant Lens Culinaris originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest sources of food. A cousin to the pea and a rich provider of protein and carbohydrates the lentil is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins – making it an important diet staple the world over.
With colors ranging from gold to orange to actual red, these are the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentils - to our mind, at least! They're somewhere in the middle in terms of cooking time and are usually done in about 30 minutes. They tend to get mushy when cooked through, so they're perfect for Indian dals and other curries, or for thickening soups. A few varieties are Red Chief and Crimson, and you'll often find them in Indian or Middle Eastern markets labeled as masoor (red lentils) or channa (yellow lentils).
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