Solve my lentil problem
I made a standard (I thought) lentil soup but even after one and half hours the lentils didn't fully soften. All I did was saute onions, celery and carrot and then throw in the lentils and chicken broth. The soup ended up tasting well because I pureed about a third of the lentils, but those that remained were, shall I say, al dente.
This wonderful Egyptian dish is very nutritious. During winter, it is almost an essential dish on every dining table. It can even replace a vegetables main dish. You can serve it with croutons of fried Shami or Egyptian bread.
Main ingredients Lentil, Carrots, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Cumin.
Time of preparation 30 Minutes
Time of cooking 30 Minutes
Ingredients 1 cup Yellow Lentils
1 Carrot ,medium size
1 Zucchini ,small size, (optional)
1 Tomato ,large size
1 Potato ,medium size
3-4 Garlic Cloves
1 pieces Onion , medium size
1 tbsp butter
1 cup Chicken Broth ,
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
Salt and Pepper
Directions 1. Peel all vegetables and chop into medium size pieces. Wash lentils very well several times and drain.
2. Fill half a medium deep pan with water. Add lentils, carrot, tomato, potato and garlic. Leave to boil over high heat for 20-25 minutes. After 15 minutes add zucchini.
3. Pour all components of pan in a blender. Blend well then strain in a medium bowl.
4. In a medium deep pan, heat oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add strained vegetable mix, chicken broth, salt, pepper and cumin.
5. Leave to boil for about 5 minutes. If texture of soup is thick, add more broth or water.
Note: you can cut Shamy or Egyptian bread into bite sized squares, fry or broil them, and serve it with soup as croutons.
Due to a severly limited domestic supply of pulses, The Union Commerce Ministry of India has banned their export until March 2007. This has led to a global shortage. Prices have recently doubled in my area of NYC, and I've heard of it quadrupling at some locations. Frequent pulse eaters are seriously hoarding the stuff and some stores have resorted to rationing.
re: Joe MacBu
Just stopped by my local Indian market - yup, South Asian lentil prices are indeed up substantially. Most of the small markets near me seem to purchase their stocks from the bigger stores in Artesia (partial list at http://www.artesiaindia.us/grocery-st... ) who might offer a better price. Guess I'll be sticking to north and central American grown lentils for a while.
You probably used the "smaller-sized" French lentils. They're brownish-green in color and take forever to cook. They seem to retain a firm texture even then (after 1 1/2 hours). Use brown lentils next time if you prefer a more "mushy" consistency. The brown lentils are slightly larger in size than the French ones.
Have a look: http://www.foodsubs.com/Lentils.html
Your problem should be solved. Also note, 'Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook'.
I tend to doubt that salt can be the issue because the majority of lentil soup recipes use chicken broth, which obviously has salt. I've also made soups, cooking with broth, with no problem. After reading all of these interesting responses, I'm just guessing I got an old or otherwise bad batch of beans.
Pressure cooker!!! put the whole batch in a go for 12PSI for about 10-15 mins. Most everything else will be mud, but it should taste good. If not...Yep, old lentils. Duck, chuck, & start over
If you suspect the lentils are old (or if you use the brown lentils in the supermarket), you could soak them in water like you'd do with dried beans, which may soften them.
If there's plenty of liquid and the lentils don't get soft after simmering two hours, put them all through the blender.
Hard water may be the problem. I live in a hard water town, and dried legumes won't get soft in the center with the city water.
Legumes require a neutral pH water to get soft. Acids like tomato or vinegar will also slow their softening. Some folks say "just add a pinch of baking soda", and while that does work, it also destroys thiamine, and it's easy to add too much soda and the beans get real mushy.
I keep bottled water on hand just for beans and for making concentrated reduced chicken stock. Local grocery has a machine that does de-ionized in bulk for $.33 per gallon, pH theoretically 7.0. This solved the softening problem completely.
As for "old beans", try the water solution first. I've used beans that were at least 4 yrs old (a free 50 lb bag of pintos...of unknown original provenance... Don't ask) and they did fine in bottled water.
Other chowhound threads here:
I have always lived in places with hard water and have never had a problem cooking beans or lentils--and we make a batch pretty much every day. I never add baking soda or do anything else special. I do always use fresh beans bought from a place with high turnover. I don't store beans in my kitchen--I buy them every time I'm going to cook them. This makes a huge difference. The flavor of old beans is not good, even if they do soften.