ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • Quick & Easy Recipes

Lentils—How to Cook them in Delicious, Nutritious Recipes

Updated on January 26, 2013
Image courtesy of "Dan" freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of "Dan" freedigitalphotos.net

Lentils—Warming Winter Food

With the onset of winter, here in Egypt lentils become a topic of conversation for many of us. This is a miniature article inspired by a friend who asked me for an Egyptian recipe using this tiny legume which is packed full of nutritious value.

What are Lentils?

Lens ensculenta. Lentils are legumes, seeds which grow in pods, each pod containing one or two seeds. Although they can be of many different colours, in Egypt the lentils we use are brown, when the brown coat is removed and the lentil split it is bright orange. Brown lentils are usually quite firm when cooked and are used in kojery, or eaten with bread, whereas the orange lentils are made into lentil soup.

The Origins of Lentils

Archeologists claim that lentils are among the first foods ever to have been cultivated; they have been consumed since prehistoric times and are thought to have originated in central Asia. According to the bible lentils were traded to Essau by Jacob and during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews they were also one of the ingredients of a kind of bread made at that time. Lentils spread further afield to Africa and Europe and were introduced into India where they are still highly regarded and used in the spiced lentil dish dal.

Lentils—Nutritious Heroes!

The health benefits of lentils are vast; they help in lowering cholesterol because of their fiber content and they prevent blood sugar levels from soaring after meals. That means lentils can be of great assistance to anyone who needs to manage blood-sugar disorders. Furthermore, lentils provide two of the B vitamins, protein, and six important minerals. All of these benefits but with very little fat content; a whole cup of this tiny legume when cooked only contains just over 200 calories. What a hero!

Eat Lentils and Reap Rewards in Health Benefits

There are several health benefits connected to eating lentils;

  • Lentils contain soluble fiber that forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that traps cholesterol-containing bile and removes it from the body.
  • Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels so that if you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, lentils can help you balance blood sugar levels while providing you with slow burning energy.
  • Legumes are associated with an 82 percent reduction in risk of death from coronary heart disease.
  • Lentils contain folate and vitamin B6, both of which are beneficial in preventing damage to artery walls and therefore decrease the risk factor for heart disease.
  • Magnesium contained in lentils acts as a channel blocker for calcium thereby lessening resistance and improving blood flow and the movement of oxygen and nutrients.
  • Lentils provide iron but are low in fat and calories so they can supply increased iron for pregnant or lactating women as well as for children and adolescents who need extra iron for growth.
  • Lentils contain insoluble fiber that increases stool bulk, prevents constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

How to Prepare and Cook Lentils

Lentils are not among the beans and peas that require presoaking and in fact can be quickly prepared and cooked which is so important when time is short or there are many mouths to feed. There are a few simple steps to be followed:

  • Tip the lentils onto a plate to check for small stones that may be mixed in with them.
  • Place in a sieve or strainer and rinse thoroughly with running water.
  • Always boil the water before adding the lentils and never put salt in the water since this can toughen the lentils.
  • Use plenty of water, just as you would for pasta; approximately three times the water as lentils because you can always drain off any excess.
  • Cooking time varies with brown lentils taking between 20 to 30 minutes and orange/yellow split lentils approximately 10 minutes. Always check for the consistency required.
  • When cooking lentils you can cook extra and keep them in the fridge or freezer.

Tasty Lentil Dishes for Cold Winter Days

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Enough for six people with healthy appetites
Irresistible Koshary seved with hot chilli sauce and salad—ideal on a cold day.
Irresistible Koshary seved with hot chilli sauce and salad—ideal on a cold day. | Source

Ingredients for Egyptian Koshary

  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup small pasta rings
  • 1 cup pre-cooked or canned chickpeas
  • For the sauce :
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 liter tomato juice
  • to taste chili powder/salt and black pepper
  • cooking oil or butter as needed
  • 3 finely chopped onions

Instructions

  1. Crush and fry the garlic in a little butter. Add the tomato juice, chili powder, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a second pan add 2 cups of lentils to 6 cups of boiling water and continue to boil until the lentils have softened. (About 12 to 15 minutes)
  3. While the lentils are cooking,in another pan add 1 cup of pasta rings to salted boiling water, cook until ready and drain. (About 10 minutes)
  4. While the pasta is cooking, gently fry the rice in butter; salt and pour boiling water over it. Cook until ready. (About 10 minutes)
  5. Meanwhile, in a heavy-based frying pan heat oil and fry the finely-chopped onion until dark brown. Strain (About 10 minutes)
  6. In a large serving dish toss together the strained lentils, rice, pasta and a third of the onions. Add the pre-cooked or canned chickpeas. Pour a ladleful of chili sauce over the mixture and fold in.
  7. Scatter the remainder of the onions over the top of the dish and serve the sauce separately.
5 stars from 3 ratings of Egyptian Koshary

Reference:http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Alison-Jean profile image
      Author

      Alison-Jean 5 years ago from Egypt

      Thanks Dani-I've written a few hubs but you are the first person to comment. I'm not even sure if I should answer you here.

    • Dani Katarina profile image

      Dani Katarina 5 years ago from California

      Great post! I love lentils!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)