Having lentils on hand is important in my household. My husband and I eat a mostly plant-based diet, so we need the good protein and carbs. They are great for tossing into a salad for a hearty and textured meal, kushary is a staple comfort food in our family, and most importantly, my kids just love eating these lentils!
I have botched many pots of mushy lentils, and was determined to perfect the recipe so I don’t ever encounter this problem again. So here are my fool- proof tips collected from all my flops as well as from my well experienced mother:
1) Use green lentils, as they are firmer and don’t lost their shape as much as the brown variety.
2) Be careful not to presoak the lentils when you wash them. Wash and drain immediately.
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4) Only put enough water to just cover the lentils by a centimeter in the pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low, NOT LOW. Low is what I typically reduce to when cooking rice, but this allows the lentils to cook more slowly in the water, which we do not want. Medium- low allows the lentils to cook while the water evaporates more quickly.
5) Do not add salt until the end of the cook time. This is a rule I always follow when cooking beans in my pressure cooker and I realized I should probably apply it to lentils. And it works! Salt can inhibit the cooking of legumes in water, so you shouldn’t add it in until the end.
6) Of course use the following rule at your own discretion, but this is mostly a warning to both parents or easily distracted chefs: watch the pot. Cook lentils when you are hanging out in the kitchen for 20-30 minutes. Do not leave the room! I cannot tell you how many times I have burned a pot of lentils to a charred black crisp because I wandered off to help one of my children. Doing another house chore or working with a child is like a blackhole which you often forget to climb out of!
- 2 cups of green lentils
- 3 cups of water (or enough to just cover the lentils)
- 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Carefully pick the lentils for any stone pieces or debris
- Wash the lentils and drain.
- Put the lentils into a pot and cover with water. Do not add any salt.
- Stir in the olive oil and cumin.
- Once the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat down between medium and low, and cover.
- Watch the pot, and as soon as the water evaporates, stir in 1 tsp of salt. Remove from heat and serve or store to be used later.
- Kids can help pick out stones or debris and rinse the lentils! This is a fun part that my girls or students enjoy participating in .