Horse Gram: Add This Nutritious Pulse to Your Diet More Often

4 min read
Hindi Female

As I look suspiciously at the brown dal in the bowl, my friend had already poured it on the steaming rice on her plate and was mixing it. Observing my hesitancy, her mother said, "This is ‘Kulith saru’, perhaps you haven’t tasted it before."

Far from tasting, I had never even heard about it. Hesitatingly, I poured on the rice and mixed it and started eating. A sharp aroma tingled my mouth. It was hot and spicy. Somehow, I disliked it.

It was years later, when on a road trip to South India, I tried it again on a rainy night with rice and papad and got hooked to its taste.

Kulith, kuthli, kavam, huruli, kulthi and ulavalu or Horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum) is a native plant to the Southeast Asian subcontinent and some parts of Africa, and India. It is a much-undervalued plant but has been a food for thousands of years in India.

This lentil is a powerhouse of nutrients. History says horse gram has been cultivated from the Neolithic ages and was fed to cattle and horses for its high protein content.

Growing this bean was easy as it required scanty irrigation, is drought resistant and can grow in places with a low rainfall. It soon became a staple food of the masses and as cattle and horse feed.

In India, it is mainly cultivated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, and West Bengal.

Nutrition And Benefits

Horse gram is an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, essential amino acids, iron, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins such as carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

It is beneficial for diabetes, kidney stones, leukorrhea, common cold, fever, skin rashes, boils, conjunctivitis, and constipation.

Due to its iron content, it is good for menstrual problems and anaemia. Its regular consumption improves gut health and helps to reduce flatulence and constipation.

As a low-fat food, it is a great option for weight watchers. Beneficial for metabolic disorders, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, horse gram is widely used as Ayurvedic medicine.

Useful Tips

Horse gram sprouts. 

(Photo: iStock) 

  • Eating a handful of soaked horse gram legumes each morning helps in improving digestion.

  • Add soaked horse gram in salads to increase the protein content and for reducing constipation.

  • Soak a handful of horse gram seeds overnight in water. Strain the seeds in the morning and wash your eyes with this water. This helps to reduce the conjunctivitis infection in the eyes.

  • Grind soaked horse gram into a fine paste. Apply as a face pack. Keep it for half an hour and gently wash off. These cleanses, nourishes and clears the skin.

  • Make a horse gram soup or rasam and consume when having colds. It helps in relieving congestion and opens the nasal tracts.

  • Horse gram soup for treating kidney stones - Boil 25 gms of the lentil in 200 ml of water until it reduces half the quantity. Strain and drink it twice a day.


1. Horse Gram Flour Curry

  • Ingredients

1/2 cup horse gram flour

1 onion finely chopped

3-4 garlic flakes chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

a pinch of asafoetida

1/4 tsp chilli powder

2 green chillies chopped

2 tsp coriander chopped

1 tsp of tamarind paste

Salt to taste

1tbsp oil

  • Method

Mix horse gram flour with water and blend it well.

Heat oil, add mustard seeds, and asafoetida. Let them crackle. Add chopped green chillies and garlic.

Then add chopped onion, turmeric powder, and chilli powder.

Pour the horse gram flour paste and mix well.

Add water until you get the required consistency.

Add salt, keep stirring and let it cook.

Add the tamarind paste and chopped coriander. Boil for one minute. Serve hot with rice.


2. Horse Gram Salad

  • Ingredients


1 cup boiled sprouted horse gram

1/cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes

3/4 cup chopped boiled potatoes

4 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tsp green chilli paste

3 tsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

  • Seasoning

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp mustard and cumin seeds each

  • Method

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Heat oil, add the mustard and cumin seeds and pour on the salad.

Serve as a side dish. It can also be enjoyed as an evening snack.

Horse gram, an ancient food has become marginalized due to the domination of other pulses. Not well known as the other lentils, horse gram with a distinct aroma and rustic flavour stands out. Many do not like it initially, but given its nutritional profile and the many health benefits, it needs come back in our diet.

Horse gram is an acquired taste. Initially, you may dislike its sharp flavour. If you do not like the soup or rasam try making a curry or a salad. Bringing the lost or forgotten foods back to our plate is good for our health and the planet.

(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)

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Topics:  Food   Diet   pulses 

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