How to cook legumes and 6 recipes from different countries to enjoy them

Legume seeds are part of the traditional eating habits of many countries, with a transcendent cultural and nutritional value.

By generic name, the beans are dried seeds , clean, healthy and separated from the pod, from plants of the family Leguminosae . Among others, chickpeas , beans (beans, beans or beans), lentils , soybeans, green beans (pods, green beans or green beans), broad beans or kidney beans and peas or peas .

These foods have numerous advantages, as they are inexpensive, easy and durable to store and versatile, in addition to having a composition with significant nutritional value .

Most legumes are marketed dry, whole grain or ground, but they are also available in the form of flour or even fresh, such as lima beans, peas and beans during the harvest season.

When bought dry, it is recommended to keep the legumes in an opaque container so that they do not lose color, oxidize or get wet.

Pre-soak time

Before cooking legumes , most will need to soak for 10 to 12 hours. It is about rehydrating the seeds so that they recover the water they lost during drying. Plus, this will help cut your cooking time in half.

The hardness of the cooking water is very important in the case of legumes, because during this process the phytic acid and soluble pectins contained in the seeds interact with the calcium and magnesium ions in the water, forming soluble complexes that facilitate cooking. .

The harder the water , the more calcium and magnesium ions it contains, so the amount of phytic acid will not be enough to capture the ions and they will end up interacting with the soluble pectins, preventing the penetration of water into the seed and its cooking becomes difficult and lengthens .

As the cell walls weaken and the water enters the seed and the starch begins to soften when the temperature reaches 70 degrees. For this reason, it is important to put them in cold water and cook them slowly .

Now, to the pot …

Legumes can be boiled in water or broth as well as in stew or stew. They are easily cooked in a casserole, adding ingredients that add flavor and plenty of water. Bring them to a boil and simmer until soft.

Although it will be necessary to consider the packaging instructions according to the product, to prevent times and temperatures, for dried legumes (once soaked) it can be established:

  • Normal pot or saucepan : the time is not less than between 30 and 40 minutes.
    • Lentils, peas, beans, do not exceed 45 minutes of cooking;
    • Chickpeas, soybeans and beans, take between 60 and 120 minutes of cooking.
  • Express or Pressure Cooker: the time is reduced to half that of a normal pot.
    • Lentils, peas, beans, 10-25 minutes maximum.
    • Chickpeas, soybeans and beans, between 20 and 80 minutes.
  • Slow cooker or crockpot : unlike the previous one, cooking is much slower.
    • Lentils, peas, beans, after 3 hours of cooking and more.
    • Chickpeas, soybeans, beans, from 8 hours of cooking and up to 10 for chickpeas.
  • Sprouts : because they are seeds, an alternative way to take advantage of their nutrients is by germinating them. This is done after soaking, once clean and wet, they are left in a container covered with a cloth, soaking 2 or 3 times a day until they germinate naturally. In this way they are more digestive and, in some cases, they can even be eaten directly raw.

cook legumes

Tricks so that legumes do not give you gas

The raffinose , carbohydrate present in legumes and part in the composition of non – digestible oligosaccharides, is responsible for the generation of flatus .

The oligosaccharides resist gastric acid and reach the intestine without alterations, causing the bacteria in it to ferment and produce gases .

There are some steps that can be helpful to minimize flatulence:

  • Carry out a previous cooking : although in this process it allows to extract the refined, when discarding that first cooking water, proteins and minerals are also lost.
  • Soak them for the 12 leaves and discard the soaking water : this causes the enzymatic activity to start and stabilize earlier, providing a more difficult to digest consistency.
  • Eliminate soaking water : in addition to eliminating impurities (such as dust and dirt) that may remain from drying, a part of the oligosaccharides is eliminated there.
  • Pass them through a Chinese strainer : in order to eliminate the skins (the skin), which is the most difficult fiber to digest.
  • Adding the salt to the water once cooking is finished : this allows the skin to completely soften, with the salt it hardens and it is more difficult to digest.
  • Break the boil : incorporating a glass of cold water when the cooking water is boiling, with the exception of chickpeas and beans to which warm water can be added.

Spices that can facilitate your digestion

Seasoning dishes that include legumes, in addition to olfactory nuances, help to correct the carminative function of the intestine, helping to minimize the production of flatulence and improve digestion.

Some of the spices and condiments recommended for cooking legumes are:

  • Cumin : antimicrobial, digestive stimulant and carminative.
  • Laurel : combines very well with tomato, is carminative, stimulates the digestive system and prevents heartburn.
  • Clove : it is carminative, although it can also irritate the digestive mucosa.
  • Thyme : with a pleasant aroma, digestive stimulant, anti-putrid and carminative.
  • White pepper : recognized for its carminative properties, it also stimulates the taste buds.

The onion , which also has carminative effects, can be used for refried with garlic , paprika and oil, taking care to add them to the sauté when the oil is already warm and without frying. In some eastern countries it is very common to add seaweed to legume recipes.

Preparations and recipes with legumes

Legumes are very versatile and are among the traditional dishes of many countries.

In what Cooking Recipes are legumes used? From hot preparations, such as stews and stews, to hummus, salads, and incorporated in the preparation of hamburgers, meatballs , croquettes and various sandwiches or even desserts and sweets (such as tamarind and carob , which are also legumes).

Among the most famous and traditional dishes are:

  • Chickpea and cod stew (Spain): Cook ½ kg of chickpeas; Cook 2 bunches of spinach and chop them; Mix the spinach with 2 beaten eggs, toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley, form bites and brown them in oil over high heat; Add to the chickpeas 1 onion, 1 leek, 3 garlic cloves and 1 carrot; Fry a slice of bread; Crush everything and add everything to the casserole, leaving it to cook for ½ hour; add 500 gr of desalted and flaked cod.


  • Red lentil burgers (Turkey): Cook 500 g of red lentils (no soaking required) covered with water in a saucepan until almost no water runs out; Add 250 g of fine bulgur (similar to semolina) and cook for a few minutes; Sauté 1 diced onion with oil and add 30 g of red pepper paste, mix this preparation with the lentils, add the juice of ½ lemon, 100 ml of pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, paprika and chopped fresh parsley. Form the burgers and serve with lettuce.


  • Hummus (Morocco): Soak 450 g of chickpeas for 6 hours (until they swell), drain them and put them in a pot with water over the fire; When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour and a half. With the chickpeas drained and a little cooking water, pass them through the blender adding 3-4 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste), 1 clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and cumin, and add olive oil until make the paste smooth. It is also possible to make it with canned chickpeas.


  • Black bean soup (Brazil): wash 1 pig’s foot, dry it with paper and burn the hair; Cook the beans (after soaking for 24 hours) in a pressure cooker with the pig’s foot, 100 g of smoked and desalted pork ribs, 2 skinless sausages, 50 g of desalted dried meat, 2 bay leaves and salt satisfaced; sauté 50 g of onion and garlic in olive oil and add it to the beans. Cook with the pot uncovered until the broth thickens; Strain the stew to obtain the soup and dress with pepper.


  • Maharagwe (Eastern and Southern Africa): Boil 1 cup of kidney beans (previously soaked 10 hours) until soft; Fry 1 chopped onion and 2 garlic in another pot until golden; Add ½ kg of minced meat and cook for 10 minutes; Add 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 chopped carrots and coriander, sauté for 5 minutes, add the cooking water of the beans and boil for 2 minutes. Mix with the beans and serve.

Beyond these recipes, there are many ways to combine legumes and incorporate them into different preparations, simple and complex, to serve them at any time of the day.



  • “The kitchen of legumes”, Alicia Foundation.
  • “Report on Legumes, Nutrition and Health (Adapted to the regulations on nutritional claims and healthy properties in foods)”, Spanish Nutrition Foundation.
  • “Legumes, a luxury dish”, Consumer
  • Cooking time tables,
  • “Natural seasonings and their properties”, Physiogenomics
  • “Vegetable seasoning spices. Only flavorings or also medicinal remedies? ”, Waizel-Bucay J. and Waizel-Haiat S. An Orl Mex, 2016.
  • “Vegetables. Seeds for a sustainable future ”, FAO. 2016.

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