Horse Gram: 12 Health Benefits and Recipes

Let’s take a look at horse gram, the miracle pulse, and how it can benefit our health. Plus, there’s a recipe in here too!

Let’s take a look at horse gram, the miracle pulse, and how it can benefit our health. Plus, there’s a recipe in here too!

You may be familiar with red, black and green grams, but even the most passionate foodies sometimes miss horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum). This low-profile, humble legume took its English name from its use as a staple food for horses and cattle. However, if you find the name discouraging, you can call it Kollu as it is in Tamil, Ulavalu in Telugu and Kulthi in Hindi.

Horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum) is a pulse crop widely cultivated and consumed in India since ancient times, and native to the south-east Asian subcontinent and tropical Africa. The US National Academy of Sciences has identified this legume as a potential food source for the future, thanks to its exceptional nutrition profile, drought-resistance and general hardiness.

Horse gram is the most protein-rich lentil found on the planet. It is very high-powered. That’s why race horses are fed with this gram, which is called horse gram in the market.

This important and under-utilized tropical crop is grown mostly in dry agricultural lands and keeps a rather low profile nowadays, but is ready to expand its reputation! Here’s why.

Horse gram: A superfood in its own right

Horse gram may not be inviting by the sound of it but its qualities are undeniably wonderful. It is:

  • high in iron, calcium, and protein. In fact, horse gram has the highest calcium content among pulses and is one of the richest vegetarian sources of protein
  • low in fat and high in carbohydrate content
  • low in lipid and sodium content, and its slow digestible starch make ideal for diabetic and obesity patients

Does that sound more promising? Well we have only just begun. Let’s continue.

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Infographic - The Benefits of Horsegram

Horse gram: Food or medicine?

Raw horse gram is particularly rich in polyphenols, flavonoids and proteins, the major anti-oxidants. In other words, it can keep your body young and vibrant! What’s more, scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology have found that unprocessed, raw horse gram seeds have the ability to reduce high blood sugar following a meal, by slowing down carbohydrate digestion and reducing insulin resistance. This makes it an extra diabetic-friendly food!

The health benefits of horse gram seem to be innumerable. Just name a health issue and “kollu-power” will work for it! Traditional medicinal texts describe its use for asthma, bronchitis, leucoderma, urinary discharge, kidney stones and heart disease. Ayurvedic cuisine also recommends horse gram for persons suffering from jaundice or water retention. Rheumatism, worms, conjunctivitis and piles are also said to quail before the power of horse gram.

Horse gram has astringent and diuretic properties. It is also beneficial for extracting phlegm, and controlling fever and cholesterol levels. According to some studies, the lipid extracts of horse gram are beneficial for treating peptic ulcers, and it is said these magic legumes can reduce flatulence and control various menstrual problems.

Overwhelming, isn’t it?


Eating plenty of horse gram can actually help in the management of obesity as it has the ability to attack fatty tissue, thanks to its phenol content.

Kollu also has the ability to generate heat and energy in your system and therefore keeps you warm on a cold winter day.

I am sure horse gram is starting to become your friend by now. Let’s take a look at what a good friend it is for the planet too, with a few facts about its green power.

The agricultural relevance of horse gram

Prevents Soil Erosion: The vine grows very fast, and becomes quite thick and dense in a short period of time, thus preventing soil erosion. Horse gram is a valuable plant on sloping land with poor mineral content.

Drought Tolerant: Horse gram is remarkably tough and drought-resistant. It is capable of withstanding extended periods of drought with minimal work on the cultivator’s part. On dry lands with little access to technology or irrigation, horse gram is often the preferred crop. It is also grown in low fertility regions where other crop species may have failed. It is a great candidate for land reclamation programs.

All these factors combined make it a great cost-effective source of food, fodder, fuel supplement and manure.

Under-cover crop: We already mentioned horse gram is a low-profile legume and we had our reasons. It serves as a good understory crop in plantations in southern India. Because it requires relatively low levels of light, it can do its job hanging out quietly under the trees, and when it dies it enhances the quality of the soil.

Forage: Horse gram also provides animals with high quality forage. Its stalks and stems, which hold 30-40% of its nutrients, are widely used as animal feed. Kollu does not let any opportunity go waste.

So, horse gram takes care of you, Mother Earth, and animals too. Hopefully, this super hero has just found a place in your heart and will soon join your kitchen!

Horse gram recipes

If you are wondering how to consume it, here are two suggestions. You can follow Sadhguru’s advice and instructions and sprout the seeds, or try the yummy soup if you feel like having a hot dish.

Sadhguru: Many European stomachs may not be able to digest horse gram so it is good to sprout it, which makes it more easily digestible. Put the horse gram in a white cloth, soak the cloth in water for about six to eight hours, and then keep it closed. In about three days, the seeds will sprout. If the sprout is about half an inch out of the seed, you can eat it raw. It takes a lot of chewing and eating, and it is very good for the system.

Horse gram tends to increase heat in the body. If you feel too much heat, you must balance it by eating sprouted green gram, which cools the system.

Horse gram soup aka Ulavacharu

Horse gram : 1/2 cup
Tamarind paste : 2, 3 teaspoons
Pepper corn : 1 spoon
Cumin seeds : 1 spoon
Mustard seed : 1/2 spoon
Curry leaves : 1 sprig
Coriander leaves : 1 or 2 sprigs
Salt : to taste
Oil : 2 teaspoons


  • Soak the horse gram seeds over night and pressure cook till soft.
  • Drain the water and keep it aside for later use. (The water's color will be chocolatey)
  • Grind the dry roast mustard, cumin and pepper seeds to fine powder.
  • Mash half of the cooked horse gram.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and shallow fry the curry leaves.
  • Add the tamarind paste, strained horse gram water, roasted powder, smashed horse gram and salt.
  • Add sufficient water and make sure the gravy is not too thick.
  • Add the remaining horse gram and mix.
  • Remove from flame.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped coriander leaves over the gravy.
  • Serve with chapatti or steamed rice and enjoy!

Let us know how you find horse gram, and how your attempts to befriend it have gone!

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for more tips on eating healthy, try out our very popular ebooklet Food Body. Pay what you wish. (Set ‘0’ for free)

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5 years 4 months ago

Nice to incorporate all types of flavors and qualities. More ideas for vegetarian balance the better. Time to go back to Ayurveda roots

5 years 5 months ago

Shambho!!! Thanks to is one of my favourite..Ulavacharu made by my mother...i came to know many things..i would definitley use as frequently as possible..thanks

4 years 11 months ago

Broken wheat Kanji and Muthira (Kollu) Puzhukku used to be a speciality. They used to serve it some temples in Kerala. Delicious and Nutritious.

5 years 5 months ago

Can this pulse be consumed during pregnancy?

4 years 6 months ago

Ulava Chaaru is a tangy stew made with horsegram and a delicacy in Andhra. Very good for weight loss too.

5 years 5 months ago

Good information. Will add this to our families diet.

4 years 2 months ago

I started taking soaked Chana with onions, green chillies, salt and little bit lemon juice. Will that help to loose some weight.
Abhishek Chakraborty

5 years 5 months ago

You are Awesome Sadhguru...and so is the Horse Gram...thank you SHAMBHOOOOOOOO!!!!

3 years 8 months ago

I am not getting how to sprout horse gram.Can you please further explain?
They(horse gram) sprouted by the end of day-1 and there is fungus formation by day-2
I did the following thing, correct me if I am incorrect:

I placed horse gram in a white cotton cloth and soaked it in water for 6 hours.
Then I removed it from water and tied the cloth.
Finally placing it aside on a shelf in kitchen.
And when I noticed fruit flies around it on the first day I covered it.

Please reply.

5 years 5 months ago

I was always afraid of horsegram and ground nut, due to the gas problem, but last Sivarathri time I took the ground nut soaked in water overnight as per Sadguru's advice and it was ok ,NOW how can I overcome gas Problem of Horsegram ?

3 years 8 months ago

After soaking, tie in a cloth and hang it from a hook or on a window, where there's air flow. Do not cover it.

5 years 5 months ago

I think adding some lemon juice should help. If you suffer from gas problem, try taking lukewarm water with half or one lemon juice (depending on size of lemon) first thing in the morning (don't add any honey, sugar or salt, and sip it slowly while sitting). Also, you can make a nice drink using lemon, pudina (mint leaves), sugar, salt, and water in a blender, and take it after food. I have tried the above and it has worked for me (I used to take around 2 antacid capsules every day and now I am free from that)

3 years 8 months ago

Thank you! :D

5 years 5 months ago

Even in language Bharat is the best, isn't it ;-)

3 years 3 months ago

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5 years 5 months ago

Dear Satish Kumar,
Thank you for your kind advice, but there is another problem with me, cervical and lumber spondylosis, both pain increase when I take lemon and curd. Any way I will try the new way of cooking and post my experience after some time...

3 years 2 months ago

Sadhguru recommends having sprouts as a good source of protein and also to cool the body. So, you cricket coach was right :)

5 years 5 months ago

Curd causes problem for me as well (I prefer buttermilk that is safer). However, lemon juice in warm water, taken on empty stomach hasn't caused any problems till now.

5 years 4 months ago

The recipe here reminds me of the hot-n-spicy horse gram soup we were served every noon during the 21-days Hata Yoga Program. Mmm...