By: Jenny Chandler
2016 was the United Nations F.A.O. International Year of Pulses, its aim to promote awareness and greater consumption of these “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future”; well, that year may have come to an end but now’s the time to build on the momentum.
I’m a food writer and teacher and, over the years, so many of my readers, pupils and friends have admitted that whilst they enjoyed eating pulses they were never that inspired about what to do with them. Now we have the most extraordinary wealth of recipes at our fingertips, gathered up and curated during last year on the Love Pulses website. As a cook, one of the most exciting things about pulses is that these miraculous little seeds have been grown and eaten all over the globe for millennia and so we’ve evolved countless fabulous ways to prepare them. Whatever your taste, your culture, your cooking ability or your budget, you will always find a dish to fit the bill.
This year, for Global Pulse Day, I’ll be cooking a simple dal with my daughter and the other pupils at our local primary (elementary) school. The idea is to show that cooking up a substantial, balanced meal of lentils, and serving it with rice or flat bread, really is child’s play. The simplest and most delicious of Indian dals can be made with a little freshly chopped ginger and garlic, a sprinkling of turmeric, a handful of readily-available split red lentils and a few cups of water. It’s quite literally a throw-together recipe that requires nothing more than a stir once in a while until the lentils collapse into a luscious, creamy mush. We’ll finish the dal with a sprinkling of seasoning, herbs and spices and then serve it up as a takeaway, with bought flat breads, at the end of school. We’re using the event as a fund raising opportunity for a water charity. What could be better? The kids will be learning to cook a healthy, sustainable meal and realising one of the other great benefits of pulses, how economical they are, allowing us to raise money too.
Alternatively, Global Pulse Day may be an excuse for a feast with your friends and family; pulses are often a choice in my home when I’m entertaining. The fact is that so many dishes with beans, peas or lentils are do-ahead, leaving you to let your hair down and enjoy the party. How about a Tex-Mex Chile with tortillas, rice, guacamole and salsas or Middle Eastern meze selection with falafel, lentil salad and plenty of glorious veg?
If mid-week entertaining isn’t your thing then you could always set pulses racing at work; instead of the pretty ubiquitous custom of taking cake or cookies into work you could all bring in a pea, bean or lentil dish. The simplest, healthiest (and nonetheless delicious) challenge could be for everyone to bring in some different crudités (time for a spreadsheet if you want to end up with more than carrot sticks) and pulse-based dip such as hummus. If you need some inspiration here’s a little video that I made with Love Pulses.
So, whether you’re interested in healthy eating, looking for more sustainable sources of food or just riding the wave of our renewed excitement in one of the world’s most versatile ingredients, there are so many ways to join us and spread the pulse love on 18th January, Global Pulse Day 2017.
Jenny Chandler was the European Ambassador for the UN International Year of Pulses 2016 and continues to share her passion for these highly nutritious, versatile, affordable, sustainable and, above all, delicious ingredients.
Jenny is a food writer and author of Pulse (The Better Bean Cookbook in U.S,) and also shares recipes on her blog jennychandlerblog.com