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Usually I let the pressure cooker whistle 1 or 2 times when I cook rice alone and 3 to 4 times for lentils.

I am not a complete vegan or even a complete vegetarian yet. I have been trying to eat vegan food 6 out of 14 times a week. So, I eat rice, lentils soup (or other pulses) and some salad during breakfast. I appreciate that this diet is protein-complete.

I am both a lazy and a busy individual and have been wondering if I can cook rice and lentils together. Peas and gram are not possible to be cooked in such less time. So, I experimented it by mixing an equal amount of rice and split red lentils and boiling the mixture in a pressure cooker. I added the amount of water needed to cook that much amount of rice alone. The appearance looks good. The lentils though aren't very soft, I can't feel the difference much because the rice swells. I served it with salad. To be honest, this simple breakfast of mine (including the salad) took less than 15 minutes to prepare. Plus, I had less utensils to wash. And no oil was used.

Is it safe to eat rice and split red lentils (masoor dal) boiled in a pressure cooker together for a period of "pressure cooker whistles" for rice considering that the lentils didn't get cooked for the time needed for it to be cooked alone?


Note: I am not talking about Khichdi where oil is used, more water is added, and is cooked for sufficient time for the rice and the dal to melt.

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I'm assuming you're talking about the skinned masoor dal rather than unskinned sabut masoor, which takes a lot longer to cook.

I often cook white rice with a spoonful of masoor dal just to add extra protein. By the time the rice is adequately cooked (I'm sure you'd find undercooked rice uncomfortable to eat), the masoor dal is, as far as I'm concerned, perfectly adequately cooked, although the grains are still distinct.*

Masoor dal does not contain any toxic substances such that eating it lightly cooked would be unsafe. Note that raw, sprouted masoor dal is a popular snack and salad ingredient (sprouting does break down some of the substances that make pulses and other seeds difficult to digest, though - I expect one would feel uncomfortably bloated after eating completely raw dal). Also, pressure cooking involves the food reaching very high temperatures such that the very vast majority of harmful microorganisms that might be present would be thoroughly destroyed by the process, if that's a concern.

Masoor dal does contain resistant starch, a type of starch that can't be digested by human digestive enzymes and so generally gets fermented by organisms in the gut, which can produce gas. Resistant starch is broken down by prolonged cooking in excess water. So eating masoor dal cooked in the way you describe might lead to mild digestive discomfort for some people. It never bothers me though.

It also contains phytic acid (though not at particularly high levels) which binds certain minerals preventing their absorption. This is not dangerous, but you may wish to consider it as a factor when evaluating whether you are getting all the nutrients you need. Phytate levels in food are reduced by cooking, but you can more effectively reduce them by soaking in slightly acidified water (add a drop of lemon or vinegar) for preferably a few hours (I keep things I am soaking in the fridge as it is very hot here and they can start to get fermented otherwise) and draining before cooking. I often soak and drain nuts to reduce phytate levels (nuts are much higher in phytate), but I don't bother doing this for dal (I soak toor and chana dal, but I cook them in the soaking water).

* I also make ven pongal by first pressure cooking white rice and split skinned moong dal (for only one whistle, but it turns very mushy when stirred - I guess my cooker is different) and then tempering it with cumin, pepper, curry leaves, cashews and hing - this is a very popular breakfast here. It also works perfectly well with masoor dal, though the taste is a little different.

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I have been cooking rice with lentils like this for a long time (either 50% lentils or 66% lentils mix), as I am also lazy. Fast-cooking lentils like split red lentils (masoor) and also split peeled yellow mung beans (mung dahl) can absolutely be cooked in the same pot of rice, in fact this is literally what Indians have been doing for centuries. It is like the traditional dish Kitchari. This dish is also dirt cheap, from non perishable ingredients, and packed with protein.

I have never used a pressure cooker, I just put both rice and lentils in a regular thick bottom pot and cook exactly like I would cook rice using the "absorption method", approx double the water as rice and lentils. About 20min or so cooking time in a regular pot, and it comes out more than completely cooked, all lentils mushy.

So why are your lentils not cooked simultaneously to rice?

  • Try soaking the lentils for 30mins before adding to rice.
  • Try using brown rice which has slower cooking time which might match the lentils.
  • Try manually using "absorption method" in a regular pot instead of a pressure cooker, as this has always worked for me.
  • Try finding a Kitchari recipe online and follow it closely.
  • Try a different split lentil that might cook better like Toor dahl, Mung dahl.

To make it taste even better, disolve stock powder or cube into the pot. I usually make a curry sauce on the side from half a can crush tomatoes, curry powder, garlic, chopped onions, ghee.

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  • in fact this is literally what Indians have been doing for centuries not us :) we usually take lentils as a soup to mix with the rice cooked separately. Aug 11 at 12:16
  • Try soaking the lentils for 30mins before adding to rice. This might be useful. Aug 11 at 12:16
  • 1
    I think mung dal does cook at least as fast as masoor dal, but toor dal takes longer
    – Zanna
    Aug 12 at 5:19

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