Lentils have been valued as an article of food from biblical times. It has been cultivated in India from ancient times. It has also been medicinally used in many European countries.
It is widely grown in Mediterranean countries, Europe, N. Africa and in Middle East. It is grown throughout North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal and to a smaller extent in Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is not an important pulse crop in South India.
It is a small, erect, softly pubescent herb. Leaflets are 4-6 pairs, sessile lanceolate and mucronate. Racemes are 2-4 flowered. Calyx teeth are linear and silky. Corolla is white, rose, red or violet. The Pod is smooth, compressed, oblong or rhomboids, containing two smooth, compressed, lenticular seeds, which vary in colour from pale pinkish buff to Prussian red.Lentils show a wide range of variation in the colour of flowers and the type of pods and seeds. The seeds may have various colours and three major sizes. About 66 pure types have been isolated from seeds, which were collected from different places of India.
Lentils are valued for their high protein content (about 30%). The principal protein is globulin.
In general proteins are nourishing and tonic. Also lentil is astringent.
There is no adverse effect reported on usage of this plant.
It cures skin diseases. Seeds are considered to be tonic and blood enriching.