If you are leading a healthy lifestyle and trying to eat wholesome, nutritious meals, you should involve lentils in your diet since it has some great health benefits. It contains a lot of protein and fiber and also is cheap to buy. However, it’s not so easy to cook lentils because you have to control every little step not to spoil the dish.
Today, there is a method of preparing lentils in a rice cooker. So if you thought that your rice cooker could only be simple rice, you should reconsider because this device has way more functions.
You may be surprised to hear that a rice cooker is capable of cooking lentils without any difficulties. It’s a mistake to think that your rice cooker is good only for cooking rice. Once you try to cook in it, you won’t go back to cooking on the stove.
What are lentils?
Lentils belong to the group of food which is known as legumes. Beans, peas, peanuts, and chickpeas belong to the same group. As with all other legumes, lentils contain a high amount of protein, fiber, and several minerals, for example, iron.
People who want to cut down on meat but save the necessary amount of proteins can include lentils in their daily diet.
You can add them as a top of your salad or eat them as an independent dish. They are extremely versatile.
There are different kinds of lentils. They are red lentils, green lentils (french lentils, or sometimes they may be called Le Puy lentils), yellow lentils, brown lentils, black lentils (Beluga lentils), and pink lentils. The difference among them is in texture, cooking time, and their properties.
All the lentils except for red can be cooked in a rice cooker. Red lentils are prone to fall apart, which is why it’s better to add them directly to a soup or stew.
General nutrition advice involves lentils in a daily ration as a replacement for animal proteins. Plant protein leads to a lower risk of early death.
To add, they contain very little saturated fat and a high amount of fiber, which prevents high cholesterol levels and diabetes. Lentils are also rich in iron, so they are recommended for people suffering from anemia.
To add, lentils are gluten-free, which allows us to use them in health-conscious diets.
And last but not least this is a cheap product that is available for everyone and can be bought at all grocery stores.
To sum up all the benefits, they will help you to prevent sugar disorders and will lower your cholesterol level. Doctors insist on cooking lentils for pregnant women as they are rich in acid folic. And no need to say that lentils are perfect for those who keep a healthy lifestyle.
When lentils are harmful to you?
There is no doubt that lentils will bring a lot of benefits if you make them a part of your daily ration. However, everything is good in moderation. The Daily Value (DV) shows how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a well-balanced diet.
Remember that lentils are not to be eaten raw. It’s not only unpleasant, but it’s hard for your stomach to digest. Moreover, raw lentils contain phytohaemagglutinin, which is considered to be harmful, but it is neutralized after the cooking process.
Brown lentils and other types
As we said before, you can find a lot of different types of lentils on the shelves in the supermarket. Before cooking any of them, study dome of their flavor and texture characteristics.
This type is more versatile than other lentils. They are usually used in salads and go well with soups or stews. It is considered that they have a moderately mild taste.
Green and brown lentils are firmer than others and are used in salads. Green lentils are rich in antioxidants, iron, and magnesium. They are sometimes called French or Le Puy lentils (because they are harvested in the Le Puy region in France).
The distinctive thing about their taste is that it remains mild pepper.
Green lentils contain a high amount of iron, antioxidants, and magnesium.
This type is not recommended for cooking soups or stews because they are not prone to soften up and lose their shape.
Green lentils are one of the most popular types to be sold in grocery stores.
Black lentils (or they may be called Beluga lentils) are considered to be the healthiest of all. Since they contain about 30% of daily protein requirements, they are not likely to be used as a side dish.
This type of lentil has an ideal lenticular shape that resembles black caviar, from which this type takes its name.
This type is popular among Indian food lovers. They have an exotic nutty taste and usually, people add them to minced beef.
This type is also used by a parent who wants to increase the number of fibers in their kid’s ration.
They are very similar to the yellow ones because they both easily break down to the texture of a smooth paste that is great for mixing into other dishes or for a soup base.
This type has a sweet flavor and a pretty soft texture, which makes them ideal for thick soups and stews.
This type loses its shape easily and that is why it is used as a thickener for soups. Split red lentils are characterized by having a mild and sweet taste.
In comparison with whole lentils, split lentils have an orange color, and they are mainly used for cooking dal in Asia countries and the Indian subcontinent. To add, they are mainly two lentils in a pod.
There are also yellow split peas. Their shape is more rounded. And they are used to cooking dal as well.
What differentiates them from red ones is the way they’re processed in a dry condition, and they will look a different way when they are cooked. There are also some differences in taste characteristics.
Even though this type is called “pea” it is just a legume that had been dried. Such misinterpreting appeared because it has the same separation process.
How do I cook rice cooker lentils?
Now that we’ve studied lentils’ benefits, we can go to cooking. As you see, there are different types of lentils that are important to take into account because they have peculiarities in taste and preparation process. But still, there are main steps that are used in cooking any type.
In comparison with other legumes, you don’t need to soak lentils before putting them in a rice cooker. If you soak lentils, their texture becomes too mushy.
Start with rinsing the lentils in clean water and sort out the debris. Use a strainer for this.
Place lentils into the inner pot
Transfer lentils from the strainer into the inner pot of the rice cooker.
Adding the water, remember to keep the 2:1 water: lentil ratio.
Turn on the rice cooker
The manufacturers of rice cookers usually put the information about the cooking time during which you can prepare other meals.
Why should you choose a rice cooker?
Rice cookers are designed to make the process of food preparation much easier. Most rice cookers are multipurpose, which is why you can cook almost everything with their help. Moreover, once you’ve tried cooking lentils in a rice cooker, you are not likely to use your stovetop again.
Rice cooker vs. stove top
A rice cooker, as well as a stove, uses boiling and steaming, but it allows you to control the heat level at the required level.
When you cook lentils on the stove, you have to constantly watch it. Otherwise, your dish may be spoiled.
When you cook lentils in a rice cooker, it takes more time, but it’s much easier.
But it must be said that sometimes when you cook lentils in a rice cooker, they lose some of the flavor characteristics. That is why it is recommended to use a rice cooker for reaching the necessary texture, and then you can cook them on the stove.
Rice cooker benefits
Controlling the process
As we said, a rice cooker allows you to control the process of food preparation, which prevents food from burning, and whether you cook rice or lentils it won’t stick together.
The rice cooker will do everything for you. You don’t need to watch after your dish. So, it saves you time.
When you choose a rice cooker, you save not only your time but energy as well. And it doesn’t cost a fortune, you can buy it for 30$.
Multipurpose space saver
Since the rice cooker can be used for different purposes, you don’t need to buy a lot of extra pots and pans that take up a lot of space in the kitchen.
Easy to clean
The rice cooker is equipped with a nonstick coating, which makes the cleaning process much easier. You don’t need to scrub it when you’ve burnt something.
Electric pressure cooker
A few words about this device. The electric pressure cooker is automatic and equipped with a tightly fitting lid, which makes food cooked under high pressure. Such a method helps to reduce the time of cooking.
With this device, cooking lentils takes only 7 to 10 minutes.
After we’ve discussed all the benefits, it’s time to share delicious recipes of lentils, which you can cook with just a rice cooker. This is the most common way to cook lentils in a rice cooker. All the other recipes have almost the same steps and may differ only in some ingredients. For example, they may involve chicken, fish, potatoes, spinach leaves, and so on.
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- salt and pepper to your taste
- olive oil
Rinse the lentils properly under running cold water. Make sure you got rid of all the debris.
Put the rinsed lentils in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
Add garlic powder, saffron, cumin, turmeric, sweet paprika, and herbs, and mix everything properly.
Place lentils in the rice cooker pot.
Add the water. Remember the proportions.
Close the rice cooker tightly with a lid.
The cooking time is 30 minutes. When you see your rice cooker in ‘Warm’ mode, it means that the lentils are ready. After the dish is ready, give your rice cooker five minutes, and only then open it.
The excess water can be drained, or you can leave some to keep the lentils moist.
- Before you cook lentils in a rice cooker, use cooking oil and paper towels to grease the bottom and sides of the rice cooker.
- You can add dried bay leaves and fresh garlic to intensify the taste.
- Don’t add lemon juice and tomatoes during the process. It will make lentils tougher and the cooking time longer.
- You can use a rice cooker to cook dry lentils and prepare them for your next meal. Remember, the general rule when you cook lentils is to take two parts of water for one part of dry lentils.
- If you don’t have grain mode in your rice cooker, you set it on high mode.
- If you want to check whether the water level is appropriate, remember that there must be one inch of water above the top surface of the lentils.
- Don’t forget that lentils absorb a lot of water, so make certain that you’ve added the necessary amount of it.
- Add salt and pepper only after cooking. Salt makes lentils tougher and preparation takes more time.
- In comparison with split red lentils and black lentils, other types take more than 5 to 10 minutes to prepare. For these other types, you can use warm mode for a bit longer.
- When you cook lentils, and you are in the middle of the process, you should stir them to check for firmness.
- It’s better to cook and eat lentils at one time since many nutrients are evaporated during the culinary process, which makes cooked lentils not as rich in fibers, vitamins, or minerals as dry versions. But again, you shouldn’t eat them in a raw state.
- Cooked lentils need to stay 5 minutes without opening a rice cooker.
What extra ingredients I can use?
To make the flavor richer and more sophisticated, you should use some extra ingredients. Here are the most popular variants.
- Bay leaf
- Onion powder
- Cinnamon sticks
- Fresh herbs
- Garnish with sauce
- Bell pepper
- Lemon juice
- Chili powder
- Olive oil
Choose them so that they match your types of lentils and your flavor preferences.
Can you cook lentils in a rice cooker?
Of course, you can cook lentils with just a rice cooker. This way the cooking is much easier, and it’s not as time-consuming as cooking on the stove. Moreover, a rice cooker is meant not only for plain rice. You can cook a lot of different dishes with its help.
What is the ratio of water to lentils?
The general rule is to use two parts of water for one part of the lentils. When you cook on the stove, it may be three parts of water for one part of lentils.
How to cook dried beans in a rice cooker?
Before cooking beans in a rice cooker, you need to soak them for between 8 and 24 hours. After that, you add them to the rice cooker. For one part of the beans, you use three parts of water. Add the flavorings and salt. The cooking time depends on the sort of bean. Usually, it is from 25 to 45 minutes.
Can I cook dal in a rice cooker?
Yes, you can. You can soak it in warm water with salt and turmeric for about 20-30 minutes and then put it along with the water in an electric rice cooker.
How long do you cook lentils in a steamer?
It may depend on the kind of lentils and the mode you use. Usually, it varies from 12 to 15 minutes.
To cook lentils in a rice cooker is a very good idea if you want perfectly cooked and tender lentils without any difficulties. This way definitely has a lot of benefits. For example, it is less time-consuming, and it is easier to control the process.
What makes lentils healthy is that they can be an excellent alternative to animal fats. That is why you can see recipes of vegetable stock and vegetarian taco filling. They also allow cooking nutritious gluten-free dishes.
Even though cooked lentils lose some of their health benefits due to the evaporation process, they are still highly recommended as a part of a health-conscious diet.
Cook lentils in the rice cooker is not a complicated task. You’ll need from 25 to 40 minutes (depending on your types of lentils and recipe) and you don’t need to control every little step in order to prevent them from burning during the preparation process.
To add, there are a lot of ways and recipes to cook lentils. Many people prefer to combine it with cooked chicken, others like it as a separate dish. Some types of lentils are used mainly in soups and others are added to salads. Some types are also used for cooking dal. Whatever is to your taste is fine.
Don’t forget about some cooking tips if you’ve decided to make one of those dishes. And remember that everything is good in moderation, and there is no need to overindulge in lentils in your diet.
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