Grown in India, the horse gram is a type of legume that is often referred to as a pulse. Often used as a basic ingredient in food for livestock, it is also used in a number of dishes that are served to humans as well. With a range of color and texture that can be very pleasing, horse grams may be prepared in a number of ways.
Horse grams are an oval-shaped bean that is usually thin and relatively small. There is some variance in color, with these legumes found in shades of brown, red, and black, with the hue ranging from pale to deep. The process of preparing them is not unlike that of many different types of beans. The dried horse grams are soaked in water overnight, then put on to slow cook for several hours. Just about any spices or meat drippings can be used to season them during the cooking process. Once the beans are fully cooked, they may be served as a side dish or used as an ingredient in a more elaborate dish.
The taste of horse grams is best described as earthy. With a natural flavor that is somewhat like a cross between a black bean and a kidney bean, they lend themselves very well to absorbing the flavor of different types of seasonings. Like chickpeas, these beans can be served cold or hot, and they can be pulverized and used to make a paste that is somewhat similar to hummus.
One common use of horse grams in India has to do with the production of a sauce. The cooked beans are combined with salt, and then crushed into a paste. The paste is allowed to ferment, producing a sauce that is not unlike soy sauce. This sauce keeps very well, and it can be used to flavor main dishes as well as vegetable and noodle side dishes.
Considered a very common food for both humans and livestock, horse grams do not enjoy a high reputation. Owing to the essentially earthy taste and the ease with which the beans are grown, they are considered to be most appropriate for consumption by people with limited financial means. As they have become more popular around the world, however, some of this stigma is lifting. Recipes that incorporate horse grams have become more readily available, and grocery stores that provide ingredients for Indian cuisine often carry them, either canned or dry.