Ivory White Lentils
Although commonly called Ivory White Lentils, these tiny, ivory-colored discs are not true lentils, but the white center of the Indian staple bean crop black gram (or "urad dal").
Carefully sort White Lentils and rinse thoroughly. Simmer 1 cup White Lentils with 4 cups water for 12 to 25 minutes, depending upon the desired texture. Skim the water while cooking. Drain when finished and season with salt.
Storage & handling
Store in a dry, cool place.
Although commonly called Ivory White Lentils, these tiny, cream-colored discs are, in fact, not true lentils at all, but the creamy white interior of the black gram (Vigna mungo), a small legume related to the cowpea and mung bean. They are produced by removing the black outer shell of the black gram, leaving only the creamy white interior.
Black gram, along with its white, lentil-like derivative, both originated in ancient India, where they are still a staple component of the diet and are interchangeably called "urad dal." In Southern India, Ivory White Lentils are often ground with rice to produce a flour that is used to make traditional breads. Additionally, they are eaten whole throughout the country in many curries and stews as a meat substitute.
Black gram is cultivated in many countries in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, and is still among the most important crops grown in India and Sri Lanka today, due to its versatility and its relatively high protein content, both vital features in cultures where a high percentage of people follow a vegetarian diet. It is a short-duration crop that flourishes in areas that receive heavy rainfall during the growing season. It can also be planted during the dry season if properly irrigated. It is often planted as a cover crop to prevent erosion and replace depleted nitrogen in the soil, preparing it for planting other crops the following year.
Black gram also has significance in Indian traditional medicine, or "Ayurveda." Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe it to help increase male sexual vigor, strengthen the nervous system and act as an anti-inflammatory.
An important ingredient in Indian cuisine, flour made from grinding White Ivory Lentils with rice is used in making papadum, a light and crispy lentil flatbread, and dosa, a thin crepe that is commonly eaten for breakfast, either alone or stuffed with fillings such as potatoes, fried onions and spices.
This traditional southern Indian flat bread is prepared on a griddle and made from Basmati Rice and Ivory White Lentils. The batter must ferment for at least 4 hours to develop its signature flavor. Serve them with a spicy lentil curry for a classic southern Indian meal.