The lentil (Lens culinaris or Lens esculenta) is an edible legume. It is an annual plant known for its lens-shaped seeds. It is about 40 cm (16 in) tall, and the seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each. As a food crop, the majority of world production comes from Canada and India, producing 58% combined of the world total.
In cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, where lentils are a staple, split lentils (often with their hulls removed) known as daal are often cooked into a thick curry/gravy that is usually eaten with rice or rotis.
The cultivated lentil Lens culinaris subsp. culinaris was derived from its wild subspecies L. culinaris subsp. orientalis, although other species may also have contributed some genes, according to Jonathan Sauer (Historical Geography of Crop Plants, 2017.) Unlike their wild ancestors, domesticated lentil crops have indehiscent pods and non-dormant seeds.
Lentil was domesticated in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East and then spread to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Indo-Gangetic plain. The primary center of diversity for the domestic Lens culinaris as well as its wild progenitor L. culinaris ssp. orientalis is considered to be the Middle East. The oldest known carbonized remains of lentil from Greece’s Franchthi Cave are dated to 11,000 BC. In archaeobotanical excavations carbonized remains of lentil seeds have been recovered from widely dispersed places such as Tell Ramad in Syria (6250-5950 BC), Aceramic Beidha in Jordan, Hacilar in Turkey (5800-5000 BC), Tepe Sabz (Ita. Tepe Sabz) in Iran (5500-5000 BC) and Argissa-Magula Tessaly in Greece (6000-5000 BC), along other places.