legumes listWhat Are Legumes

The term “legume” refers to the plants in the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family. This definition encompasses not only the plants but also their seeds, making legumes one of the biggest families of plants. Legumes represent more than 600 genera and over 19,500 species, and many of these species have hundreds of varieties. (1) Legumes vary in shape, texture, color, and taste depending on the species. 

In diet, the term “legume” usually refers to pulses, which are the edible seeds of leguminous plants. Dried beans, chickpeas. lentils, peas, and soybeans are the most common varieties of pulses. Other well-known legumes not considered pulses include fresh peas and beans, alfalfa, carob, clover, lupins, mesquite, peanuts, and tamarind.

Virtually every culture and cuisine incorporates pulses in one way or another. Lentil dal is a staple at the South Asian table. Cannellini-based minestrone is a time-honored recipe, as is pinto bean chili in Mexico. Falafel and hummus, both based on chickpeas, have origins in the Middle East. Soy-based miso soup is traditional in Japan, just as tofu pad Thai is long established in Thailand, and tempeh with peanut sauce is native to Indonesia. This is just a small example of the many ways legumes have long been incorporated into dishes worldwide.

Legumes List

As you can imagine compiling a complete list of legumes would almost be an impossible task. So, in this guide, I will focus on the eight major genera within the Fabaceae family. These genera include:

  • Beans (Phaseolus, Vicia faba, Vigna)
  • Lentils (Lens culinaris)
  • Peas (Pisum sativum, Cajanus cajan)
  • Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)
  • Soybeans (Glycine max).

This guide will show you a visual reference, common names, and a description of some of the most common legumes (pulses). While the legumes list is quite comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. 

If you’re interested in how to soak and cook dried legumes, refer to this cooking guide. If you’re interested in how to sprout dried legumes, refer to this sprouting guide.

Legumes – List of Beans

Beans are one of the largest genera (Phaeolus and Vigna), which include several well-known species of beans in the Fabaceae family. The extensive number of bean varieties available makes it impossible to account for every bean grown for food consumption. Still, there are many beans that deserve attention, from beans that warrant permanent status on our tables to beautiful heirlooms.

Currently, the world’s gene banks hold about 40,000 bean varieties, although only a fraction are mass-produced for regular consumption. The seed colors range from white through green, yellow, tan, pink, red, brown, and purple to black in solid colors and countless contrasting patterns. With their elongated and kidney shapes, beans differ from both lentils (which have a lens shape) and peas (which have a perfectly round, spherical shape). 

Types of Beans

Because of their tremendous diversity, beans can be categorized differently. One convenient way is according to the stage at which they are eaten.

Snap beans, aka string beans, are eaten fresh, pod and all.  The beans are in their immature state, and the pods still have some “snap” to them. Some snap beans are also known as string beans and green beans, but they are not always stringy anymore, thanks to recent breeding developments, and not always green (the pods can be green, purple, red, or streaked). 

Beans that grow past the tender pod stage to maturity can be picked for just the seed inside. Beans grown for their seeds to be eaten fresh or dried are called shell beans. Fresh shell beans are intended to be eaten when the seeds are still young, just full-sized, sweet and starchy, before they start to dry down. 

Dry shell beans are eaten after the seeds in the pod have matured and dried out. They are then shelled and need to be soaked in water before cooking. Dry beans are the only type of beans that are considered pulses. (Snap beans as well as fresh beans are considered vegetables). 

Below is a list of the most common dry beans.

Adzuki Beans (Aduki Beans, Azuki Beans, Red Mung Beans)adzuki beans

Origin: Orient
Profile: adzuki beans have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese cuisines for centuries. In Western civilizations, they are highly regarded in the macrobiotic diet as a food that promotes strengthened kidney and adrenal function. Adzuki beans are small (0.256 inch/6.5 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, reddish brown (or black) marked with a distinctive thin white line down one side. They have a sweet, nutty flavor, a smooth creamy texture, and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: anko (Japanese sweet bean paste), steamed beans with rice, stews
Substitute: kidney beans, red beans

Anasazi Beans (Aztec Beans, Cave Beans)anasazi beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: Anasazi beans are a heirloom variety related to pinto beans grown predominantly in the American Southwest. Much of the Anasazi bean’s popularity can be attributed to its easy digestion (the level of hard-to-digest oligosaccharides is 25% less than in many other beans). While similar in shape and size to pinto beans (0.492 inch/12.5 mm in diameter), Anasazi beans have a dappled burgundy and cream color pattern that fades to pale pink when cooked. They are also sweeter, more flavorful, and firmer than pinto beans, and hold their shape better once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: casseroles, soups, stews
Substitute: Appaloosa beans, pinto beans

Appaloosa Beansappaloosa beans

Origin: Palouse region of America (today’s eastern Washington State and Northern Idaho)
Profile: Appaloosa beans are a heirloom variety related to kidney beans and pinto beans popular in the Pacific Northwest. They are medium-size (0.551 inch/14 mm in diameter), elongated with a mottled dark purple and ivory white on the diagonal, thought to resemble the markings of Appaloosa ponies. The color contrast of the markings remains distinct but fades to pinkish burgundy when cooked. Appaloosas have a mild herbaceous flavor, firm texture, and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: refried beans, salads, soups
Substitute: Anasazi beans, pinto beans

Black Beans (Black Turtle Beans, Turtle Beans)black beans

Origin: southern Mexico and Central America
Profile: black turtle beans are very popular in Latin American cuisines. They are small (0.354″/9 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and shiny black with a creamy white interior. They have a rich, sweet, earthy flavor, and a dense, meaty texture, which makes them popular also as a vegetarian-friendly meat substitute. Black beans hold their shape better once cooked than most other beans.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: feijoada (Brazilian stew), frijoles negros (Latin American black beans), burritos, enchiladas, dips
Substitute: black adzuki beans

Black Calypso Beans (Orca Beans, Yin Yang Bean)black calypso beans

Origin: Caribbean region
Profile: calypso beans are a heirloom variety related to kidney beans popular not only in the Caribbean but also the Mediterranean. They are small (0.433″/11 mm in diameter), round and slightly kidney-shaped with a starkly contrasting black-and-white pattern that bears a resemblance to the Chinese yin-yang symbol. Although the markings fade when cooked, the contrast of the pattern remains, giving the beans a great presentation value. Calypso beans have a distinctive potato-like flavor, a smooth firm texture, and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: casseroles, salads, soups, stews
Substitute: kidney beans, cannellini beans

Black-Eyed Peas (Cowpeas, Southern Peas)black eyed peas

Origin: Africa
Profile: despite the similarity of taste and the word pea in their name, black-eyed peas are, botanically, a bean related to mung beans. They are one of the requisite foods in southern New Year’s celebrations, when eating it is said to ensure good luck in the coming year. Black-eyed peas are small (0.315″/8 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and have a black “eye” on an inner curve amid a creamy white background. Their flavor is mildly sweet, somewhat reminiscent of peas, and the texture is firm. They hold their shape well once cooked, but are easy to overcook.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak
Popular uses: beans with rice and greens (American South)
Substitute: yellow-eyed peas or pigeon peas

Bolita Beansbolita beans

Origin: Northern New Mexico
Profile: bolita beans are a heirloom variety related to pinto beans. At one time they were extremely popular in Northern New Mexico, but their popularity has decreased. They are medium-size (0.453″/11.5 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and pinkish light-brown. They have a mildly sweet flavor, a smooth creamy texture, yet they hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: soups, stews
Substitute: pinto beans

Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans, Italian Kidney Beans, Fasolia, Haricot Blanc)cannellini beans

Origin: Argentina
Profile: cannellini beans are a heirloom variety related to kidney beans very popular in Italy. They resemble red kidney beans in shape and size (0.591″/15 mm in diameter), but are creamy off-white. Meatier than navy beans or great northern beans, cannellini beans have a mild, slightly earthy flavor, a smooth firm texture, and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: minestrone soup (Italian), pasta e fagioli (Italian soup), and tuna and white bean salad (Italian)
Substitute: great northern beans

Christmas Lima Beans (Chestnut Lima Beans, Calico Beans)Christmas lima beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: Christmas lima beans are a heirloom variety related to lima beans. They were particularly popular in the American Southwest in the mid- to late-19th century but were later largely replaced by a few commercial varieties in the 20th century. Fortunately, thanks to seed savers and specialty farmers and purveyors, Christmas lima beans have recently made a comeback and are among most favorite heirloom beans. They are large (0.945 inch/24 mm in diameter), flat, and have mottled maroon and creamy white markings that become even richer and darker when cooked (not often the case with colorful beans). Their flavor is remarkably like roasted chestnuts. Their texture is flaky (similar to a baked potato), firm, and the beans hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: succotash (American sweet corn and beans)
Substitute: lima beans

Cranberry Beans (Roman Beans, Borlotti Beans)cranberry beans

Origin: Colombia
Profile: cranberry beans are a heirloom variety related to pinto beans very popular in Italy. These beans have been bread around the world to become borlotti, Madeira, tongues of fire, and more. They resemble pinto beans, but are larger (0.591 inch/15 mm in diameter), and have reddish brown streaks with cranberry red markings (unfortunately, they lose their beautiful color during cooking). They have a sweet, mild, and somewhat nutty flavor, a smooth creamy texture, yet the beans hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-75 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: fejioada (Portuguese stew), pasta e fagioli (Italian soup)
Substitute: tongues of fire beans or pinto beans

Eye of the Goat Beans (Goat’s Eye, Ojo de Cabra)eye of the goat beans

Origin: Central America
Profile: eye of the goat beans are a heirloom variety related to scarlet runner beans. These beans are now grown in many locations due to the fact that the plant produces showy flowers and can be an ornamental plant as well. The beans are medium-size (0.492″/12.5 mm in diameter), round and slightly kidney-shaped with a taupe-colored background and curved brown stripes (resembling the eye of the goat). Their flavor is rich, deep, and almost chocolaty. Because of their thin skin, eye of the goat beans release a lot of flavor into broths, yet are firm enough to hold their shape once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90-120 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: salads, soups, stews
Substitute: scarlet runner beans

Fava Beans (Broad Beans, Faba, Field Beans, Horse Beans, Windsor Beans)fava beans

Origin: Middle East and North Africa
Profile: fava beans are a popular staple in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Mediterranean. They are large (1.063″/27 mm in diameter), broad and oval-shaped, and light brown. Unless harvested very young, fava beans have a thick seed coat that must be removed before cooking. It is not difficult at all, but definitely time-consuming. When cooked, the beans have a strong nutty, earthy flavor and a pulpy, meaty texture. Although it’s completely safe for most people to consume fava beans, some people of African, Mediterranean, and Southeast Asian descent have a rare inherited disease called favism, in which eating fresh fava beans can cause severe anemia.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90-120 minutes after an overnight soak (for whole dried beans) or 30-45 minutes (for peeled and split dried beans).
Popular uses: falafel, Ful Medames (Egyptian stew), puree, salads
Substitute: lima beans

Flageolets (Fayot)flageolet beans

Origin: France
Profile: flageolet beans originated in France and continue to hold an esteemed place in a traditional, country French cuisine. They are small (0.375″/9.5 mm in diameter) immature kidney beans that range from creamy white to pale green in color. Flageolet beans are sometimes known as the “caviar of beans” for their fine, delicate flavor, ultra-creamy texture, and the high esteem in which they are held by food lovers. Despite their thin skins, they hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90-120 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: paired with lamb or fish
Substitute: great northern beans

Great Northern Beansgreat northern beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: great northern beans are most popular in the American Midwest. They are medium-size (0.433″/11 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, white, and look like a larger version of navy beans. They have a mild, delicate, slightly nutty flavor, a grainy texture, and hold their shape better than navy beans.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: baked beans, casseroles (particularly french cassoulets), salads, soups
Substitute: cannellini beans

Jacob’s Cattle Beans (Dalmatian Beans, Trout Beans)Jacob's cattle beans

Origin: Prince Edward Island
Profile: Jacob’s cattle beans are a heirloom variety related to kidney beans popular in the American Northeast. They are large (o.630″/16 mm in diameter), kidney-shaped with burgundy and white speckled and mottled markings, a pattern similar to Hereford cattle. Contrary to most other colorful beans, the pattern and colors don’t fade with cooking. Jacob’s cattle beans taste a little tannic on the tongue and have a slightly fruity, rich aftertaste. Their texture is dense and meaty, and they hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: salads, soups, stews
Substitute: anasazi beans

Kidney Beans (Chili Beans, Rajma)red kidney beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: there are several types of kidney beans – dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, white kidney beans (cannellini beans), and immature kidney beans (flageolets). Red kidney beans contain relatively high amounts of phytohemagglutinin, and thus are more toxic than most other bean varieties if not pre-soaked and subsequently heated to the boiling point for at least 10 minutes. They are large (0.669″/17 mm in diameter) and as their name suggests, kidney-shaped. Dark red kidney beans have an earthy flavor, a firm creamy white flesh, and because of their thick skin retain their shape well once cooked. In contrast, light red kidney beans have a more full-bodied flavor and a softer texture.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: chili con carne (Mexican chili with meat), red beans and rice (Louisiana Monday Creole dish), brenebon (Indonesian soup)
Substitute: adzuki beans, red beans

Lima Beans (Butter Beans, Madagascar Beans, Wax Beans)lima beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: lima beans are a favorite in the American South. There are two varieties of lima beans – a large-seeded variety (lima/fordhook) and a small-seeded variety (baby lima/sieva). Large lima beans (0.866″/22 mm in diameter) are disc-shaped, flat, and creamy-white. They have a neutral yet buttery flavor and a smooth creamy, starchy texture, similar to that of Christmas lima beans. Baby lima beans are also flat and disc-shaped, but much smaller (0.551″/14 mm in diameter) and pale green. Both large lima and baby lima hold their shape well once cooked. When cooked for long periods, they create a thick, gravy-like liquid.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: salads, soups, stews
Substitute: fava beans

Marrow Beans

marrow beans

Origin: Middle East
Profile: marrow beans are a heirloom variety related to navy beans used in many parts of the Mediterranean, especially in Italy. They are medium-size (0.5″/12.7 mm), round and semi-kidney-shaped, and off-white. When cooked, these beans boast a mild, bacon-like flavor and a creamy, meaty texture.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: braised with meat, salads, soups, stews
Substitute: navy beans

Mung Beans (Green Gram, Moong)

mung beans

Origin: Persia (today’s Iran)
Profile: mung beans have been used in Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines for thousands of years. In fact, they are considered one of the most cherished foods in Ayurvedic medicine, mainly because of their detoxification properties. In North America and Europe, mung beans are mostly known for their sprouts. They are small (0.236″/6 mm in diameter), round-shaped, olive green on the outside and yellow on the inside. Their flavor is very mild, and they take on the flavor of what you choose to cook them with, whether sweet or savory. The beans have a very soft, buttery, almost mushy texture, and don’t hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes or 30 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: khicharee (Indian rice and beans), mung noodles, mung paste (for breads and desserts), soups, salads (in a sprouted form)
Substitute: pigeon peas

Navy Beans (Boston Beans, Small White Beans, White Pea Beans, Yankee Beans)navy beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: navy beans are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. As their name implies, navy beans were a key component of the US Navy rations during the second half of the 19th century. They are the smallest out of all white beans (0.375″/9.5 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and slightly flattened. They have a mild flavor and a smooth, creamy texture but hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: Boston baked beans, Senate bean soup (served every day in the American Senate), soups, stews
Substitute: great northern beans

Pink Beans (Chili Beans)pink beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: pink beans are closely related to kidney beans, used extensively in the Southwest and the Caribbean. The most famous pink bean is Santa Maria Pinquito, which is a heirloom variety grown in California. Pink beans are small (0.433″/11 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, pale pink but turn reddish brown when cooked. They have a rich, somewhat sweet flavor, and a smooth meaty texture and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: refried beans, soups, stews
Substitute: kidney beans, pinto beans

Pinto Beanspinto beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: pinto beans are the most widely produced bean in the United States and one of the most popular in the Americas. The word “pinto” literally translates as “painted,” an apt description for this mottled salmon pink and brown pattern, which becomes uniform (pinkish-tan) when cooked. Pinto beans are medium-sized (0.453″/11.5 mm in diameter) and oval-shaped. They have a mild, nutty flavor and a soft meaty texture and hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: Frijoles Refritos (Mexican refried beans), Frijoles Charros (Mexican stew), Sopa Tarasca (Mexican soup)
Substitute: cranberry beans, pink beans, rattlesnake beans

Rattlesnake Beansrattlesnake beans

Origin: Mexico
Profile: rattlesnake beans are a heirloom variety related to pinto beans. They have become a diet staple in many cultures and are now widely produced in Asia, Europe, and North America. Their name comes from the fact that their pods twist like snakes. They are medium-sized (0.375″/9.5 mm in diameter), oval-shaped with variegated tan to reddish-brown skins streaked, and speckled with mahogany or dark brown. They are darker than pinto beans, but the mottled dark brown patterns are fairly similar. Their flavor, too, is similar, although deeper and richer.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: soups, stews
Substitute: pinto beans

Red Beans (Small Red Beans, Mexican Red Beans)red beans

Origin: Peru
Profile: small red beans are related to kidney beans and are used extensively in Mexican and Caribbean cuisines. They are small (0.315″/8 mm in diameter), oval-shaped, and dark red. On one side, they have a white eye with a black ring around it. Just like red kidney beans, red beans contain a high amount of phytohemagglutinin, and thus should never be consumed raw. They have a milder flavor and a softer, creamier texture than kidney beans but hold their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: Louisiana red beans and rice, salads, soups, stews
Substitute: kidney beans, pinto beans

Scarlet Runner Beans (Ayacote Runner Beans, Multiflora Beans)scarlet runner beans

Origin: Central America
Profile: scarlet runner beans are a heirloom variety related to the eye of the goat beans used predominantly in Mexican and Caribbean cuisines. Most varieties have vibrant red flowers that are often grown as ornamental plants. The beans are large (0.906″/23 mm in diameter), kidney-shaped, and range in color from pink (young beans) to dark violet to black speckled (mature beans). They have a savory, very nutty, almost meaty flavor with a starchy to creamy texture. Because of their thick skins, they hold their shape well during cooking, yet they also exude beautiful bean broth.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: salads, soups, stews
Substitute: eye of the goat beans

Legumes – List of Lentils

Lentil is a small legume seed belonging to the Lens culinaris genus. The word “lentil” comes from the Latin “lens,” which derives from its typical lens-shaped seed. With their flat, round shape, lentils differ from both peas (which have a perfectly round, spherical shape) and beans (which typically have an oval, elongated shape).  

There are hundreds of varieties of lentils, with over 50 varieties cultivated for food. They come in various colors and sizes and can be sold with or without the seed coat, whole or split. Below is a list of the most common lentils.

Whole Lentils

Beluga Lentils (Black Lentils, Indianhead)beluga lentils

Origin: Fertile Crescent (today’s Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq)
Profile: beluga lentils are grown in the cool, dry climates of Canada and America’s northern plains. They are the most flavorful, nutritious, and highest in protein variety of lentils. They are tiny (0.138 inch/3.5 mm in diameter), round-shaped, and glisten when cooked, which makes them look like beluga caviar. Beluga lentils have a delicate taste and are fantastic at absorbing other flavors. Their thicker skin helps them hold their shape and retain al dente (chewy) texture even when cooked all the way through. This makes them ideal for use where a high-contrast lentil with a sturdy structure is desired.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 25-30 minutes.
Popular uses: salads, stuffing for vegetables
Substitute: Puy lentils

Black Lentils (Black Gram, Sabut Urad, Kali Dal, Maa ki Dal)black gram

Origin: India
Profile: black lentils are significant in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda), where they are used to treat various ailments. Even though they are commonly called “lentils,” black lentils are actually related to mung beans. Compared to beluga lentils, black lentils are bigger (0.165 inch/4.2 mm in diameter), and oval-shaped, and their color is not as rich and deep black. Their black coat has a strong, nutty flavor, but the white inside is bland. The texture is unusually mucilaginous and gluey when cooked. 
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, for 65-70 minutes.
Popular uses: dal makhani (Indian stew), dosa (Indian savory crepe), idly (Indian savory rice cake), papad (Indian flatbread), vada (Indian savory fried snacks)
Substitute: split black lentils

Brown Lentilsbrown lentils

Origin: Fertile Crescent (today’s Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq)
Profile: brown lentils are the most common variety of lentils in North America. They range in color from light brown to very dark brown, almost black. Their flavor is mild with only slightly earthy undertones, and their texture is relatively firm (the smaller the lentil, the firmer the texture when cooked). Brown lentils come in 3 different sizes – large, medium, and small. The most common variety, often considered the “regular” lentil in the US, is the brewer lentil (0.256 inch/6.5 mm in diameter). Next on the popularity list is a medium-size marrone lentil (0.22 inch/5.6 mm in diameter). The classic small brown lentil is Spanish pardina lentil (0.188 inch/4.8 mm in diameter). 
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 35-40 minutes.
Popular uses: burgers, casseroles, lentil-based loaves, soups, stews
Substitute: green lentils

Castelluccio Lentilscastelluccio lentils

Origin: Italy
Profile: Castelluccio lentils come from Umbria. They grow on the Castelluccio plain below the Sibillini mountains and have a protected designation of origin seal (“Lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia—Indicazione Geografica Protetta”). These lentils are one of the tiniest lentils out there (0.078 inch/2 mm in diameter), lens-shaped, and their color varies from light brown to grey-green to dull yellow, sometimes speckled, sometimes striped. Castelluccio lentils have a big presence in the culinary world, where they are highly prized for their nutty, slightly earthy flavor. They have a delicate, tender texture but retain their shape well once cooked.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 30 minutes.
Popular uses: salads, side dish
Substitute: Puy lentils

Crimson Lentils (Petite Crimson Lentils)crimson lentils

Origin: Anatolia (today’s Asian Turkey)
Profile: crimson lentils are shelled red lentils. While still whole and not split (as are red chief lentils), they are peeled with their rusty brown outer seed coat removed. They are small (0.118 inch/3 mm in diameter), lens-shaped, and reddish-orange. Crimson lentils are mild, slightly sweet, smooth and buttery. They are known for their quick-cooking nature and not holding their shape well in cooking.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 10-15 minutes.
Popular uses: sauces, soups, stews
Substitutes: red lentils

Green Lentilsgreen lentils

Origin: Central Asia
Profile: green lentils are the most common variety of lentils in Europe. As the bags are simply labeled “lentils,” most people would be surprised to learn that these brownish-beige lentils are called “green.” And, to confuse matters even more, they are sometimes called brown lentils. Green lentils are very similar to brown lentils, but their flavor is more robust and slightly peppery. Their texture is relatively firm, and they hold their shape well once cooked. Just like brown lentils, green lentils come in 3 different sizes. The most popular large green lentil variety is Laird lentil (0.275 inch/7 mm in diameter). This is the lentil commonly found in European supermarkets. If the green lentil is medium-sized, it is most likely Richlea lentil (0.236 inch/6 mm in diameter). The classic small green lentil variety is Eston lentil (0.197 inch/5 mm in diameter).
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 35-40 minutes.
Popular uses: salads, soups, stews, stuffed vegetables
Substitute: brown lentils

Puy Lentils (French Lentils)puy lentils

Origin: France
Profile: Puy lentils are the original green lentils harvested in the rich volcanic soils of Le Puy, France. French lentils grown elsewhere are often called ‘Puy’, so look for the AOC label (Appellation d’origin contrôlée) to guarantee their origin. Puy lentils have a dark, bluish-slate-green color and are about one-third the size of green lentils (0.189 inch/4.8 mm in diameter). They are well-known for their nutty, peppery flavor and creamy texture. What makes these lentils so special is their delicate thin membrane caused by the special growing conditions that prevent the lentils from maturing fully. This means Puy lentils are incredibly delicate, yet they retain a firm bite and don’t lose their texture. Thicker skins come with a longer cooking time, though.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 40-45 minutes.
Popular uses: salads, light soups, side dishes
Substitute: beluga lentils

Red Lentils (Red Chief Lentils)red chief lentils

Origin: Anatolia (today’s Asian Turkey)
Profile: red chief lentils are the most popular red-colored lentils and have been a staple among many Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cultures. They are medium-sized (0.197 inch/5 mm in diameter), lens-shaped, and red-orange-y. With their skins on, they wouldn’t look red or orange but rather rusty brown. The brown seed coat has a nutty, earthy flavor, whereas the interior is mild and slightly sweet. Just like their hulled cousins (petite crimson), red lentils tend to fall apart and turn golden during cooking.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes.
Popular uses: soups, stews
Substitute: crimson lentils

Split Lentils

Ivory Lentils (White Lentils, Urad Dal)white lentils

Origin: India
Profile: ivory lentils are actually peeled and split black lentils (black gram). They are small (0.165 inch/4.2 mm in diameter), disc-shaped, and ivory in color. Ivory lentils have a mild, earthy flavor and a creamy texture. Because they have no skin, they cook relatively fast.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 30-35 minutes.
Popular uses: dosa (Indian savory crepe), idly (Indian steamed rice cake), papad (Indian flatbread), vada (Indian savory fried snacks), soups, and purees.
Substitute: split black lentils

Red Split Lentils (Coral Lentils, Masoor Dal)red split lentils

Origin: Anatolia (today’s Asian Turkey)
Profile: the most common type of red split lentil is the split crimson lentil. These lentils are small (0.118 inch/3 mm in diameter) and lens-shaped, and their hue ranges from light orange to red and pink. Regardless of the hue, they are mild and sweet and tend to disintegrate when cooked, making them ideal for thickening. Split red lentils are the fastest-cooking lentil variety.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 10 minutes.
Popular uses: dal (Indian stew), purees, soups
Substitutes: split yellow lentils

Yellow Lentils (Petite Golden Lentils, Moong Dal)yellow lentils

Main producer: India
Profile: yellow lentils are the most common lentils used in India. Even though they are called “lentils” (because of their lens shape), they are actually skinned and split moong beans. Yellow lentils are tiny (0.112 inch/3 mm in diameter), slightly more round than other types of lentils (which is why they hold their shape better than other fast-cooking lentils), and bright yellow. They have a mild sweet flavor and a buttery, creamy texture.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes.
Popular uses: kichidi (Indian rice and lentils), moong dal (Indian stew)
Substitute: red split lentils

Legumes List – Peas

Pea is a small spherical seed belonging to the Pisum sativum genus. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. We tend to refer to spherical pulses as peas and oval pulses as beans. Some other differentiating factors include their physiological structure (peas have a hollowed-out stem, whereas beans have a more solid stem), cultivation (peas thrive in a cold environment, whereas beans can only grow in warm regions), and growing patterns (peas employ tendrils to increase the traction on the pole or framework, while beans can only twist around the vertical supporting structure, creating a spiral pattern).

Like lentils, peas come in various colors and sizes and are sold whole or split. Below is a list of the most common dry peas.

Whole Peas

Green Peas (Green Matar)

Main producer: Southwest Asia (the exact origin is unknown)
Profile: peas have a long legacy in the human diet, being among the first crops cultivated by man. Whole green peas are small (0.295 inch/7.5 mm in diameter), perfectly spherical, and pale green. They have a mild flavor (although not as mild as yellow peas), a soft granular texture, and a sweet, earthy essence. Because of their thick skins, they cook quite long and don’t break down like the split variety.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: soups, spreads, stews
Substitute: yellow peas

Pigeon Peas (Congo Pea, Red Gram, Toor)pigeon peas

Main producer: India
Profile: dried pigeon peas are the most common pulse in India. They are also very popular in Caribbean and African cuisines. They are small (0.315 inch/8 mm in diameter), round- or slightly oval-shaped, and beige with brown light speckles. Pigeon peas have a strong nutty and earthy flavor and a firm, crisp texture even when cooked all the way through. Cooking longer makes little difference; that’s just how pigeon peas are.  
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60 minutes after an overnight soak. 
Popular uses: Arroz con Gandules (Caribbean rice and peas)
Substitute: black-eyed peas

Yellow Peas (Yellow Matar)yellow peas

Main producer: Southwest Asia (the exact origin is unknown)
Profile: whole yellow peas are small (0.276 inch/7 mm in diameter), perfectly spherical, and pale yellow. They have a mild flavor (milder than green peas), a soft granular texture, and a sweet, earthy essence. Because of their thick skins, they cook quite long and don’t break down like the split variety.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: soups, stews
Substitute: green peas

Split Peas

Green Split Peas (Green Matar Dal)split green peas

Main producer: Southwest Asia
Profile: green split peas are peeled and split whole green peas (the split happens naturally as soon as the skin is removed). Because split peas have a larger surface area, they don’t need to be soaked and cook more quickly than whole peas. They are small (0.276″/7 mm in diameter), round-shaped, and pale green. Their flavor is sweet and mild, although not as mild as yellow split peas. Split peas have a very soft texture and turn creamy when cooked through. 
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 30 minutes (or 60-80 to fall apart completely).
Popular uses: Erwtensoep (Dutch pea soup)
Substitute: yellow split peas

Pigeon Split Peas (Toor Dal)split pigeon peas

Main producer: India
Profile: pigeon split peas are another legume that resembles yellow split peas and/or split chickpeas. They are small (0.295″/7.5 mm in diameter), round- to ellipsoid-shaped, and yellow. Their flavor is nutty and slightly sweet. Like other split legumes, pigeon split peas break down easily when cooked, adding body and texture to curries, stews, and soups. 
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 40 minutes (or 60-90 minutes to fall apart).
Popular uses: dal (Indian stew), sambar (Indian stew)
Substitute: yellow split peas

Yellow Split Peas (Yellow Matar Dal)split yellow peas

Main producer: Southwest Asia
Profile: yellow split peas are peeled and split whole yellow peas (the split happens naturally as soon as the skin is removed). Because split peas have a larger surface area, they don’t need to be soaked and cook more quickly than whole peas. They are small (0.256″/6.5 mm in diameter), round-shaped, and pale yellow to beige in color. Their flavor is mild and more neutral than that of green split peas. They have a soft, granular texture and turn creamy when cooked through.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 30 minutes (or 60-80 to fall apart completely).
Popular uses: khoresht gheimeh (Persian stew), puddings (the British make savory split pea pudding whereas the Chinese make sweet coconut split pea pudding), soups.
Substitute: green split peas

Legumes List – Chickpeas

Chickpea or chick pea is a seed belonging to the Cicer arietinum genus. The word “chickpea” comes from the Latin word cicer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. It is also known by its popular Spanish-derived name, the garbanzo bean.

Chickpeas are very similar to field peas but are more vulnerable to erratic seasonal conditions (they have a poor cold tolerance and require subsoil moisture) and pathogens. There are two types of chickpeas – kabuli and desi.

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans, Kabuli Chickpeas)chickpeas

Main producer: Turkey
Profile: chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes. They are widely used in traditional Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and East Indian cuisines. Kabuli chickpeas are also the kind most commonly found in North America. Compared to desi chickpeas, kabuli chickpeas are larger (0.354 inch/9 mm in diameter), lighter-colored, smoother, and thin-skinned. They have a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy, firm texture. 
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 60-80 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: chana masala (Indian stew), falafel, hummus, mnazaleh (Moroccan stew), salads
Substitute: great northern beans or lima beans (for hummus), fava beans (for falafel), desi chickpeas (for dal)

Desi Chickpeas (Black Chickpeas, Kala Chana, Bengal Gram, Ceci Neri)desi chickpeas

Main producer: Turkey
Profile: desi chickpeas are smaller (0.196 inch/5 mm in diameter), darker, and have a thicker, rougher coat than kabuli chickpeas. The color of the coat ranges from light brown to black, but the interior is always yellow. The dark seed coat is usually removed, and the seed is split in half to produce split chickpeas (chana dal). Desi chickpeas have a nutty flavor and a deep, earthy aroma.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 90 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: soups and stews
Substitute: kabuli chickpeas

Split Chickpeas (Yellow Gram, Kala Chana Dal, Bengal Gram Dal)split chickpeas

Main producer: Turkey
Profile: split chickpeas (0.196 inch/5 mm in diameter) are peeled and split whole desi chickpeas. They are bright yellow and look very much like yellow split peas, but they are not the same. Split chickpeas are slightly wrinkled on the surface and have a pointed tip on one side, whereas yellow split peas are smooth and hemispherical. Split chickpeas have a smooth texture and stay intact even when fully cooked, whereas yellow split peas have a grainy feel to them and tend to fall apart easily.
Cooking instructions: simmer until tender, 35-40 minutes after an overnight soak.
Popular uses: dal (Indian stew), chickpea flour (besan)
Substitutes: split pigeon peas