Cooking pulses

This is the short version, for more details about how and why to eat pulses see the full cooking tips post.

Pulses include all lentils, beans and peas. Peanuts are also pulses but are usually sold roasted.

If you soak them overnight, rinse them well, cook them and then rinse them well again, this removes about 94% of the FODMAPs and they will be more easily digested.

The minimum time for soaking most beans is 3-4 hours, especially if you soak in boiling water. Best is overnight (8-10 hours). Small lentils (such as red ones) can be as little as 1 hour (and you can cook these without soaking, but you won’t remove the FODMAPs if you do).

Kidney beans are the only exception. These MUST be soaked overnight and cooked extremely well or they contain a toxin that can make people very unwell. I recommend using tinned kidney beans if you are not sure, or substituting with pinto, borlotti or black beans.

Cooking beans is a bit of an art. Many books will give you the cooking times for different beans, but my experience is that they cook in their own good time. They are rarely done in less than an hour and can take up to 2 hours but often they “turn” fairly suddenly. Place beans/chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 90 mins. taste. If soft, turn off and leave to cool in the water. I recommend tasting them every 15 mins after 90 mins and stopping when they are just right (Softish but not mushy). They will turn eventually and how long they take depends on long they were dried for. Because different beans take different lengths of time to cook, it’s best to cook different varieties in different pots, but you can just put up with one being a little overcooked while the slower variety finishes off.

Whole lentils will only take 20 mins or so to cook after soaking.

Split lentils are the exception. These have had their outer, fibrous shells removed so they cook much quicker. You can’t rinse them after cooking, so give them a number of good rinses beforehand. You can soak them beforehand and reduce the cooking time to only 10-20 mins.

This includes the common “red split lentil” you can buy in the supermarket as well as split mung dhal from the Indian store.

The liquid from cooking chickpeas is aquafaba and you may with to make some aquafaba recipes at the same time so keep it aside.


Many people advise not adding salt until the pulses are over half cooked or they will become hard. I don’t find this makes much difference, but you can choose to wait before salting the water.



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