[Sca-cooks] My problem cooking lentils

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Oct 20 11:20:00 PDT 2007

On Oct 20, 2007, at 1:57 PM, Heleen Greenwald wrote:

> Once again I made a pot of lentils and rice with Indian spicing, and
> once again the lentils didn't cook all the way til soft.  I put just
> the lentils and water in a big pot and let them "cook" over low heat
> for about an hour and a half (!). Then I added the spice, turned up
> the heat to medium high and cooked for another half hour. Then I
> added more water and rice. Brought the whole thing to a boil then
> turned it down to medium and let it keep cooking for another hour....
> What is my problem? Other than I should give up cooking entirely!
> You might be able to tell that I am quite annoyed!
> Thanks for any advice.

I don't know how helpful this would be, but sometimes peas, beans,  
and lentils will remain sort of hard almost forever if the pH of your  
cooking liquid is off. Maybe you've got some kind of strange soft or  
acidic water where you are (PA?). Or perhaps tomatoes or lemon are  
part of the Indian spicing?  The Romans (as well as some 19th-century  
English and American cooks) used to solve this by adding a very small  
pinch of soda (in their case, cooking or washing soda, in your case,  
presumably baking). If you add too much, it will louse up the flavor  
of the food, giving it that lovely, distinctive salty-soapy flavor.  
As such, I'm not really actively recommending it, but it might be  
something you could experiment with.

2.5 hours of ineffective cooking for any lentil that isn't a chick  
pea sounds quite extreme -- I doubt the cooking time is an issue  
here, per se.


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