Puy lentils - small, dark green lentils with a peppery flavour. They are prized in French cookery as they hold their shape well when cooked. Try tossing them in a vinaigrette while they are still warm.
Black lentils (urad or sabut urad) - these small oblong lentils can be bought either whole or split. Whole may be combined with red kidney beans to make a Punjabi speciality ‘maa di dal’ and split are often fried in oil with spices at the start of vegetable dishes. Both are quite glutinous and can give a creamy texture to a dish.
Red lentils (masoor dal) – whole red lentils are a green-brown colour, and split are more of a salmon-pink to orange colour. Split red lentils are more commonly used, as they cook quicker and are more tender and nuttier in taste.
Split yellow lentils (channa dal) – these are like yellow split peas and have good flavour and a meaty texture. They can be cooked alone or combined in vegetable, meat or rice dishes. Split yellow lentils can also be added to the popular ‘Bombay Mix'.