Lentils are lens-shaped pulses that have a short cooking time and a distinctive earthy flavor. Whole dried lentils are usually brown in color and frequently used to prepare an inexpensive, yet nutritious soup all over Europe and to a lesser degree North America.
In India, lentils are mostly found in split (Dal) form. Stripped of their outer skin, split lentils are usually bright orange in color. The thick, spicy stew prepared from lentil and other Dals is also known as Dal.
The optical lens is so named after the lentil (German: Linse), whose shape it resembles.