The lentil plant (Lens esculenta) itself is an annual, small and bushy legume of the pea family (Leguminosae). Its flowers are white or pale blue, containing lens-shaped seeds. They were thought to have originated in the Near East or Mediterranean region.

The optical lens was named after the seeds.

Lentils are sold and used in many forms: with or without skins, whole or split. Lentil production is centred in Asia. Lentil types are varied and over fifty are grown in India alone.

The lentil is protein rich, sec