Traditional, Value-Added Applications of Dry Peas, Lentils & Chickpeas

Due to robust nutritional profile, pleasant flavor, comparatively low cost, and cooking versatility, pulses have been an important part of the human diet for centuries. USA dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas have provided an incredibly broad array of products and been incorporated into an endless variety of dishes, and innovative ways of incorporating pulses into food products are being developed daily.

As previously discussed, pulses are a valuable source of dietary proteins and significant contributors to a healthy diet in many parts of the world. Foods based on pulses are prepared with a wide range of recipes and with a host of different methods, including soaking, decortication, grinding, sprouting, fermentation, boiling, mashing, roasting, milling, parching, frying, and steaming. One challenge with preparing pulses can be the lengthy cooking time. To expedite use, pulses are often processed first before subjected to additional cooking, frying, or roasting.

Throughout the world, food manufacturers use pulses as ingredients for products targeted at niche markets or to serve products that are unique within different cultures such as Middle Eastern dishes represented by falafel, hummus, and dhal. Since the 1980s, technological advancement in research and development in both products and machinery have led to a greater demand among food manufacturers for equipment that will enable them to boost capacity and enhance product quality.

One challenge with preparing pulses can be the length of time it takes to cook them. To expedite use, pulses are often processed first before being treated to additional cooking, frying, or roasting. Popular methods in the developed world include canning cooked pulses and incorporating them into what are referred to as ready-to-eat (RTE) products, such as chili.

Without access to such production options, producers in developing countries typically process pulses to be sold as shelf-stable products, requiring a minimum investment in packaging. Examples include low-moisture foods like baries, papads, leblebi, and others.

Once a small industry, employing pulses as a base ingredient for a vast array of products is today an increasingly popular practice and offers a myriad of benefits for both food developers and consumers alike. The diversity of products that can be produced using pulses frees manufacturers to introduce ingredients from different pulses. This enables them to modify the taste and texture of the food item, while ensuring that consumers enjoy products that are unique, healthful, and easily distinguishable from traditional snack foods.

See Appendix C for a collection of sample formulations.