Masur (Lens Culinaris), also called the Red Lentil in English, is believed to have originated in the region to the east of Mediterranean Sea. Lentil artefacts have been excavated on banks of River Euphrates dated more than 10000 years ago. There is also a mention of ‘crimson lentils’ in Bible.
Masur is also quite popular in India. In fact, it is being grown in India since 1st century AD. At present, it is cultivated all across India and is used in different ways. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh together accounted for more than 70% of India’s total production of masur dal in 2017-18. West Bengal and Bihar are the other two important states where it is grown.
In the Indian kitchen, masur is available in two forms. One is popularly called as ‘masoor sabut’ which is the whole red lentil and the other is ‘masoor dhuli’ which is the dehulled, split lentil.
In Ayurveda, it is considered to be of ‘ruksha’ (dry) and ‘shita’ (cold) nature. It is said to increase the ‘vatala’ or ‘vata dosha’ whereas it balances the ‘kapha’ and ‘pitta’ doshas. In Ayurvedic therapeutic tradition, it is used for ‘raktapitta’ or bleeding disorders, ‘jwara’ or fever and for difficulty or pain in urination.
Ways of using Masur
It can be eaten soaked, boiled, germinated and even fried. It is quite common in traditional Indian cooking to prepare the lentil curry (masur ki dal) and eat with rice or chapatti. It is often mixed with rice and cooked together to prepare ‘khichdi’, another popular meal across India, known for its easy-to-digest characteristic.
It can even be ground to flour and mixed with other flours, chiefly wheat, to make roti and paranthas. It adds good nutritive value to the food.
Nutritional Composition of Masur
Raw lentils have 25% proteins, 11% dietary fiber and 1480 KJoules, besides many nutrients and minerals. On cooking or boiling there is a marked reduction in the nutrient value. As per USFDA, the nutritional composition of cooked and boiled is given below…
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||477 kJ (114 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||7.9 g|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.169 mg 15%|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.073 mg 6%|
|Niacin (B3)||1.06 mg 7%|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.638 mg 13%|
|Vitamin B6||0.178 mg 14%|
|Folate (B9)||181 μg 45%|
|Vitamin B12||0 μg 0%|
|Vitamin C||1.5 mg 2%|
|Vitamin D||0 IU 0%|
|Vitamin E||0.11 mg 1%|
|Vitamin K||1.7 μg 2%|
|Calcium||19 mg 2%|
|Copper||0.251 mg 13%|
|Iron||3.3 mg 25%|
|Magnesium||36 mg 10%|
|Manganese||0.494 mg 24%|
|Phosphorus||180 mg 26%|
|Potassium||369 mg 8%|
|Selenium||2.8 μg 4%|
|Sodium||238 mg 16%|
|Zinc||1.27 mg 13%|
Potential Health Benefits of Masoor Dal Atta
1/8. Controls blood sugar levels
Masoor dal flour has low glycemic index due to presence of good amount of dietary fiber in it. This reduces the pace of digestion which inhibits high sugar levels in blood. It is also a good guard against fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
2/8. Good for Heart
By virtue of being rich in soluble fiber, it is able to bind to bile secretions which indicate the liver to produce more of bile acids. This is done by liver by drawing down the cholesterol levels. This way, it protects against LDL accumulation in arteries which is good for heart.
3/8. Weight Loss
Yet another benefit of having fiber-rich masoor dal atta is that it increases the satiety levels. This means that you do not feel all that hungry that frequently which you used to feel when you did not have the fiber-rich diet. By reducing the propensity to eat more and frequently, it helps in controlling the weight.
4/8. Anti-Ageing Composition
Masoor dal flour is rich in antioxidants, folates and zinc which make it good agent that works against symptoms of ageing, such as wrinkles and dryness of skin. It provides the much needed vitality for neutralising the free radicals which can cause inflammation and a number of other diseases.
It is considered to be good for application on skin. It is used as a face mask along with other materials for getting a healthy and naturally glowing skin.
5/8. Good for Bone and Teeth
Calcium, Phosphorous and Magnesium are two mineral nutrients present in masur flour which makes it good for bone and teeth health.
6/8. Good for Eyes
Vitamin A, C and E, copper and zinc nutrients contained in the red lentil flour are good for eyesight. The vision of eyes can be improved by intake of this flour with a balanced diet. Cataract and muscle degeneration are two important problems which can be prevented by having this flour on regular basis.
7/8. Helps in Diarrhoea
Ayurveda states that masur lentil helps in absorption of excess fluid from the intestines and prevents it from mixing with stool which makes it a good treatment for diarrhoea.
8/8. Remedy for Malnutrition
Ayurvedic tradition has it that Masoor dal can help in preventing ‘karshya’ disease. This disease is referred to as malnutrition in modern day parlance.
Side-effects of Masoor Dal Flour
There are not much side-effects of this dal and it can be considered for consumption by majority of people.
1/3. Flatulence- However, eating too much of it can cause some bloating and flatulence. This is because of presence of two sugars- (raffinose, stachyose) that are not easily digestible. Therefore, it is advisable to consume it in right quantities.
2/3. Allergies- Though it is rare to have allergy from consumption of masoor dal, it is suggested that you do see a doctor when you have any adverse reaction after consuming it as it does have allergens.
3/3. Pregnant and breastfeeding women- It is suggested to seek doctoral advice before consuming masoor flour or dal during or after pregnancy as it can cause flatulence after consumption.
How to Mill Masoor Red Lentil?
As mentioned in the beginning, there is a ‘masur saabut’ or whole red lentil which contains the seed coat. This is also called the hull of the lentil. It may or may not be ground for making the flour. The hull is packed with nutrition and it is best to prepare the flour with the hull not removed.
However, if the hull is to be removed, it can be done either by soaking it in water for a few hours or using the dry process wherein the hull is tempered to remove easily. Once removed, the lentil gets split and it is then ground using the power mill into flour. The mill can be calibrated to deliver flour of different particle size.