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Eat beans, pulse and legumes: Year 2016 is International Year of Pulses

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Puy Lentils, Apricots and Walnuts. Credit: Copyright 2016 Clarissa Hyman
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The year 2016 is being observed as “Year of Pulses” by the United Nation.

NewsGram view: Pulses, legumes and cereals are a great source of protein. In India, they form part of the staple diet. However, in the rapid rush of urban life and attraction towards non-vegetarianism, let us recapitulate the benefits of pulses and legumes.

Pulse: Called daal in Hindi. 

Legumes: examples include- peas, soy, peanut.

By Clarissa Hyman (Zester Daily) –

The great food writer Waverley Root condemned “pulse” as a “picturesque little word” used to describe the diet of ancient hermits — all gas and gruel, one imagines.

Yet, as he pointed out, it simply refers to beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and the like. Or, to be strictly correct, the edible seeds of legumes, which have been a major staple food since earliest times.

The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. I don’t know who thinks up such things, but it’s a splendid promotion of these great little ingredients full of protein, fiber, and micronutrients. Although their fresh season is short, drying is a simple way to preserve them so they retain all their goodness and flavor.

Buttery Saffron Beans with chopped parsley. Credit: Copyright 2016 Clarissa Hyman
Buttery Saffron Beans with chopped parsley. Credit: Copyright 2016 Clarissa Hyman

Legumes pack nutritional punch

As well as their nutritional importance in potentially tackling chronic health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, legumes also play a major role in agriculture through their nitrogen-fixing capability and water efficiency — improving soil quality and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has created a short video highlighting the way pulses can contribute to the future of food and reduce the environmental footprint of food production.

Pulses are usually stored and cooked in the whole form, although some are ground into flour. Their diversity comes from the variety that exists, sold both whole and split. The taste and texture of pulses vary enormously as well, from creamy to mealy, nutty to meaty, subtle to sweet, smooth to earthy. The assortment of shapes and colors — shiny black, tobacco brown, ecru, sage green and orange-yellow — offer a multitude of options in the kitchen. They can be served as simply as you like or as part of a complex, slow-cooked casserole, gently simmered, baked with a crisp topping or mashed to a velvet puree.

And, if all else fails, I can recommend eating ready-baked beans straight from the can. I think you know what I mean.

For ideas on how to celebrate the International Year of Pulses, visit Food Tank online.

Puy Lentils, Apricots, and Walnuts

Prep time: 15 minutes (not including soaking time)

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes 6 side servings

Ingredients

2/3 cup dried apricots (soak for 15 minutes if not ready to eat)

Half a stick unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful chopped walnuts

2 cups cooked Puy lentils

Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Diced feta for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Cut the apricots in half and gently fry in the butter with the onions until both are softened. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the mixture of apricots and onions plus the walnuts to the cooked lentils and heat very gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the lentils do not dry out.

3. Add chunks of feta if you wish and serve at room temperature sprinkled with chopped coriander.

Buttery Saffron Beans

Prep time: 10 minutes (not including soaking time)

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 side servings

Ingredients

1 cup dried beans, soaked and drained

1 large onion, finely chopped

Large pinch of saffron strands

Half a stick unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

1. Place the beans in a pan with the onions, saffron, and butter.

2. Cover with water, brings to the boil and simmer, covered, for about two hours. Check the sauce level: If it’s too thick, add a little more water; if it’s too liquidy, remove the lid until it reduces.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot sprinkled with parsley.

Kashmiri Rice and Chickpeas

Prep time: 10 minutes, not including soaking time

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 cups Basmati rice

2 onions, finely sliced

4 tablespoons oil or ghee

1 cup flaked almonds

2 tablespoons currants or raisins

2 whole cloves

2 green cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

6 whole black peppercorns

1-inch cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Salt to taste

5 cups water

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and boiled until soft

Directions

1. Wash and soak the rice for about 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Fry the onion in the oil until it starts to turn golden. Add the almonds and currants or raisins and fry, stirring frequently, until the onions and nuts are crisp and dark gold. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and add all the cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Fry for a few minutes then add the rice, chili powder, salt, and water. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Mix in the chickpeas, preferably with a wooden fork. Cover with a clean cloth and lid and let sit for 15 minutes.

5. Serve garnished with the fried onions, nuts and currants or raisins.

Copyright 2016 Clarissa Hyman via Zester Daily and Reuters Media Express

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

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Indian Expert Claims that Russia Might help India in Nuclear Medicine

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Nuclear power must be developed.
Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in a conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

Given the current high costs of making radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine, there is considerable scope of collaboration between India and Russia for their manufacture at affordable cost, according to an Indian expert.

Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Professor Baljinder Singh told IANS here on the sidelines of the just-concluded 10th Atomexpo organised by Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom that such cooperation has become essential in view of the global shortage of molybdenum, isotopes of which are used in tens of millions of medical diagnostic procedures annually.

The molybdenum isotope 99mTc, for instance, is the most commonly used medical radioisotope worldwide.

“The molybdenum daughter radionuclide 99mTc is used the world over for imaging on gamma cameras,” Singh said.

“Most nuclear reactors have molybdenum as a by-product — there is a shortage of which globally.”

Singh, who is a jury member at the Atomexpo2018 for selecting the best research projects in the category “Nuclear Technologies for better Healthcare”, pointed out that as a leader in civilian nuclear technology, India is among a few countries making “significant” efforts to produce radioisotopes.

“India has made significant strides in this direction and the task of developing Linear Accelerator (LINAC) technology has been undertaken by Sameer (Society of Applied Microwave Electronics and Engineering and Research) located in IIT Mumbai,” he said.

“It is a Rs 100-crore project being funded by the Telecommunications Ministry. Apart from India, Canada and Russia are the only other countries undertaking advanced level research in this area.”

According to him, in view of the importance of nuclear medicine in early detection of cancer and the recent emergence of new radionuclides for effective treatment, an effort is needed in India to provide these at an affordable cost.

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet," he said.
The two dignitaries sharing a light moment. Wikimedia Commons.

“Developed countries like the US and Japan have about four PET (positron emission tomography) scanners per million population followed by Europe at 2, and Australia at 1.6 per million. India scores very low with 0.1 PET scanners per million population,” Singh said.

“To have a reasonable ratio of 1 PET scanner per million population over the next ten years, India needs about 1,400 PET scanners and an equal number of gamma cameras.”

Read also: Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

He suggested that through tie-ups with Russia, India could arrange to be supplied with such imaging equipment at affordable cost.

Singh’s wish list at this Black Sea resort includes a collaboration with Russia in human capacity building in this area.

“We urgently require international collaboration on radiopharmacy training, as there is no such facility in India.”

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet,” he said.

“Panjab University, Chandigarh, has taken a lead in starting an M.Sc Nuclear Medicine programme in 2007, jointly with PGIMER.”

Singh is hoping that his agenda would figure in the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to take place here next week. IANS.