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Cooking Red Lentils: Tips and Tricks

how to cook red lentils
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Jerzy Górecki

Unlike most lentils, the red variety doesn’t require soaking before cooking. We’ll take a look at how to cook red lentils and share some recipe inspiration. 

Legumes are currently very much in vogue, and rightly so! Red lentils in particular are real little powerhouses: they contain numerous vegetable proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Here’s why it’s worth learning how to cook red lentils:

  • Excellent Source of Fiber: a cup of cooked red lentils contains 15g of dietary fiber
  • High in Protein: one (cooked) cup, contains 17.8g of vegetarian protein
  • Source of Iron: there is 6.6mg of iron in a cup of cooked red lentils
  • Rich in B-Vitamins: full of vitamins B6 and B9 which aid energy metabolism

Did You Know? Canada is the world’s largest exporters of red lentils.

How to Cook Red Lentils: What You Should Know

how to cook red lentils
Red lentils are a great way for those with iron deficiencies to add some extra iron to their diets. (© Karen Stankiewicz )

In principle, it is super easy to cook red lentils. There are only a few points that you need to consider:

  • Amount of water: The exact amount of water depends on the intended use. As a rule of thumb: use twice the amount of water as lentils.
  • Pot size: Choose a large enough pot. Lentils tend to foam up when they are cooked. Therefore, the water and lentils together shouldn’t take up more than two-thirds of the pot.
  • Temperature: Lentils shouldn’t be cooked in boiling water. Instead, set the stove on low heat and allow them to gently simmer. Be sure to keep an eye on the lentils as they cook.
  • Salt: If you cook red lentils with salt, they will stay firmer – this is especially good if you’re planning to make lentil salad. However, if you prefer your lentils on the softer side, skip the salt.

Red lentils, unlike other types of lentils, don’t need to be soaked before cooking. This is because they have already been dehulled—  in fact, red lentils are really just brown lentils with the skins removed. Before you cook them, it is important to rinse the lentils using a sieve.

Matching Herbs and Spices

spices for cooking red lentils
Lentils go great with a wide variety of flavors. Don’t be afraid to get creative. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Engin Akyurt )

Now that you know how to cook red lentils, you’ll want to learn how to make them delicious. Lentils absorb flavor from herbs and spices well – pick and choose the flavors you like best.

There’s no denying the downside of legumes, namely how gassy they can make you. In order to counteract the flatulent effect of lentils, try adding the following spices:

Depending on the recipe, garlic, horseradish, or rosemary also go well with red lentils.

How to Use Red Lentils

After you’ve learned how to cook red lentils, the sky is the limit. Almost every traditional Indian meal includes at least one lentil dish, which means within Indian cuisine alone, there are countless red lentil recipes. It doesn’t have to stop there – whether it’s curries, salads, or soups, red lentils are a great way to add protein to your diet. Here are a few recipe suggestions:

Happy cooking!

This article has been adapted and translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can view the original here: Linsen kochen: So funktioniert die Zubereitung

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