Lentil (Lens culinaris)
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The lentil or masoor (Lens culinaris) is a brushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds. It is about 15 inches tall and the seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each.
The plant originated in the Near East, and has been part of the human diet since the aceramic Neolithic, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. With 26% protein, lentil is the vegetable with the highest level of protein other than soybeans, and because of this it is a very important part of the diet in many parts of the world, and especially South Asia which has a large vegetarian population.
A variety of lentils exist with colors that range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. The colors of the seeds when removed from the pods also vary, and there are large and small varieties. They are sold in many forms, with or without the pods, whole or split. The urad bean, a species of the genus Vigna, is also referred to as “black lentil”. They are considered pulses, which includes peas and beans.