Karaman Black Lentils
Legumes - Turkey
Black lentils, or kara mercimek, are part of the legume family. The black lentil cultivated in Karaman has dark brown husks but is red inside. They have an important place in the local food culture of the Karaman region due to their high content of protein, vitamin B, fiber, iron, calcium, sodium, copper and zinc. It is also known that kara mercimek can be natural remedy for iron deficiency and anemia. It is a particularly meaningful crop to farmers in this dry part of Central Anatolia. It is mostly cultivated on dry land and wastelands in Kazımkarabekir province. It is suitable for summer cultivation. This variety is usually consumed in lentil soups, but it is used in other local dishes as well, including black lentil patties and soups with noodles. Increasingly less land is being dedicated to growing the black lentil because this crop has a lower yield in comparison to wheat, barley and chickpeas. Additionally, since it cannot be harvested with machines, hand harvesting increases labor costs for farmers. Nevertheless, kara mercimek is very important for local people and they prefer it to other lentil varieties. Today, this lentil variety is mainly cultivated for home consumption, but some producers sell their excess product at local markets, especially in October.