Some years ago I read in The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine by Rose Elliot:
"Orange or red lentils are brown lentils which have had their outer skin
removed." I have never read that in any of the umpteen other vegetarian
cookbooks in my collection. However, I was curious and removed the outer
skin of two brown lentils. The inner part was yellow, not orange or red,
but it made her statment more believable. I then checked out the red
lentils and found that they have no outer skin.
This may explain why red lentils disintegrate when they are cooked and
brown or green lentils retain their shapes. The American Cancer Society
Cookbook (1988) adds, "Use red lentils for soups, and dishes (such as
patties) where you want the lentils to be soft. Use brown lentils in
salads, or in dishes where you want the lentils to retain their shape."
Re yellow peas and red lentils: Although red lentils turn yellow when they
are cooked, the difference in textures is noticeable. Even mashed, the
split peas have more texture than the lentils. I made two soups on
Saturday: rasam with yellow split peas and curried lentil soup. Each
legume was exactly right in its context.
Back to The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine. Even in soft cover and at
discount, I hesitated before buying the book because it was so expensive. I
couldn't resist it, however, because of the marvelous photographs and
descriptions in the Ingredients section, pp. 33-125. It is a work of art.
>All this talk about red lentils got me curious and I bought and made some
>some broth, crushed tomatoes, onions and garlic. They tasted like split peas
>to me. Fortunately, that's okay! Was someone fooling around with the labels
>or are red lentils split peas in disguise?