Pulses (Beans, Lentils and Peas) Please

Legumes are plants which bear fruits that grow inside pods. Pulses are a type of legume where the pods and the seeds are edible;they are usually bought dried. Sometimes pulses (like dried chickpeas) need to be soaked for at least 12 hours before cooking - use lots of water for the soak (they about double in size) and maybe refresh some of the water half way through. A tin is usually the solution when dinner is required sooner. Using dried pulses always scared me (they look like things that should be spilling out of homemade musical shakers). But it can be nice to plan cooking more than 12 hours in advance and often they only need 30-40 minutes to cook and no soaking at all. Personally, I have found that after a good soak (if required), a wash and a long cook they are very soft and easy to eat. Just don’t cut short any stage or they may turn out crunchy and inedible.

Pulses are very healthy: they are a great source of vitamins and other nutrients and also come with a large quantity of protein and fibre.

There are so many types of pulses used all over the world in cooking. I will focus on three recipes and their wonderful use of pulses.


Indian Rajma - serve with rice and coriander, spicy pickle and yoghurt. 


Kidney beans are so tasty in this rich and lightly spiced tomato sauce.

If using the recipe above, you can just dice the onions and tomatoes (and leave out the extra water) if you can’t be bothered to get the blender dirty, also if using tinned kidney beans then you just add them in stage 11 (when you add the cooked dry kidney beans - use the liquid in the tin too!).


Latin American Black Beans 

While I was staying in Guatemala I asked the lady of the house how her black beans always tasted so much better than mine. She replied: “Well I soaked them since yesterday afternoon and then today I started the fire outside at 6 o’clock and now the beans are ready”. For most of us living in London cooking outdoors on a fire for five hours is not a realistic possibility and so here is a recipe that can be done on the hob.


This recipe uses black beans which don’t require soaking. I find most dried black beans do require a soak so be sure to check the packet. If using tinned, just change the 2 ½ hour cook to about 20 minutes. The beans can be served fresh after the first cook but they often taste better reheated.

In Guatemala this is typically served with fried yellow plantain, eggs (as you like), a tomato sauce, fresh coriander and some double cream on the side. Really gives you strength for all the day.


Dosa with Sambar

This is a South Indian recipe, the Dosa is made from black gram lentils (available to buy as an easy ‘ready make’ powder) and the Sambar is made using pigeon peas and vegetables. Most Sambar recipes I can find online involve using a pressure cooker. However it is possible to cook Sambar without a pressure cooker and I know my friend has a good recipe for it so I have put it on the Weekly Recipes blog here.

1 comment

  • This is a great basic recipe to know. I love lentils and beans healthy recipes. I always buy
    packed lentils and beans in New zealand from only Kashish Food!


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