Puy lentils, or French green lentils, are a type of lentil grown in the thin volcanic soils of the Le Puy region in France.
They are small and slate green/grey/blue in colour with a distinctive, rich peppery taste. They are about the same size as red lentils but with a thicker skin so retain their shape upon cooking. This makes them great for stews, casseroles, curries and even warm salads.
Their Ayurvedic qualities
From an Ayurvedic perspective, Puy lentils have the following qualities:
Rasa: Sweet, Astringent, Pungent Virya: Cooling Vipaka: Sweet Qualities: Light Actions on the doshas: Tridoshic—balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha Action on the mind: Sattvic
Their medicinal qualities
Puy lentils are a rare food with the sweet/cooling/sweet and light combination. This means they are nourishing for the tissues and immune system but still light and easy to digest—the perfect food!
Puy lentils are balancing to all constitutions, are less gas-forming than many other legumes and have a sattvic effect on the mind, meaning they help to cultivate peace, clarity and contentment in the mind, so they are appropriate for people suffering from both physical and mental digestive problems.
The Western viewpoint
From a Western perspective Puy lentils are a great source of iron, manganese, B1, dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and folate. They are also very low GI (due to their fiber content) and also slightly alkaline. When served with a grain in the same meal, they provide a complete protein.
How to eat them
Puy lentils don’t need to be soaked; they cook relatively quickly; they hold their shape upon cooking; and they taste delicious!
To make Puy lentils even easier to digest and more balancing to your physiology, you simply need to cook them well with a good-quality oil to balance their astringency and with herbs and spices that promote good digestion, like ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, thyme, etc.
Their flavour lends itself well to rich middle-eastern and Mediterranean flavours. We usually make them into a thick daal or curry and have them with cous cous, quinoa, bulgar wheat, rice or chapattis.
Why I love them
I love the colour of Puy lentils when they are dry (they are so pretty!). I love the way they taste, and I love how good they feel in my belly. They feel much, much better than brown or green lentils and taste so much more distinctive than red lentils! The flavor is so fantastic; you can virtually eat them without any spices at all, but of course adding some helps aid their digestion.
Who should avoid them
People with pure Vata constitutions or severe Vata imbalances shouldn’t eat too many lentils of any kind, due to their astringent taste. But in moderation, they are fine for everyone.
Where to get them
You can buy organic Puy lentils from most whole food or health food stores. If your local shop doesn’t stock them, ask them to source them for you. Here around Northern New South Wales, Australia, you can get them from Santos and also The Source in Mullum.
Finally, below is a video showing one way to cook puy lentils—as Moroccan Puy lentils. This makes a great special lunch or dinner and tastes even better if served up with a little rocket salad (with olive oil and lemon juice on top). Enjoy!
I hope this gets you excited about Puy lentils. Tell me about your experience with them and why you love them in the comments below!