How to Prepare Grains & Pulses

Every country have its own  favorite pulse-based dishes, whether is refried beans from Mexico, black beans in the Venezuelan Pabellon, hummus from the Middle East, Boston  beaked beans from the US or the green peas with pig tail for the Sunday Lunch in Trinidad & Tobago. The basic preparation of the pulse is simple  – sort, rinse, soak if necessary, and then simmer, after which they can be used in all kind of dishes.

The first step for the preparation of all pulses is sorting and rinsing, this is applicable to all kind of peas whether they are lentils or split peas or beans or whole peas that you want to cook.  Please them in a sieve or colander and pick them over carefully to remove any dirt or grit, tiny pebbles or any other foreign material. Then rinse the pulses well under cold running water.

To ensure the that the pulses are cooked evenly and relatively quickly, the pulse need to be soaked. With the exception of lentils and split peas, all pulses should be soaked before cooking. I like to give the pulses a long soak because I think they keep their shape better than pulses that have been quick-soaked.
Place the pulses in a large bowl an cover with 3 times their volume of cold water. Cover the bowl and leave to soak for 8 hours or overnight (refrigerate them to avoid fermentation).
The next day , drain the pulses and discard the soaking water. They are now ready to cook.

Because pulses are somewhat bland, when cooking them  I often add a “sofrito” -saute onion, clove of garlic, sweet pepper with butter, for a Venezuelan style pulses – you can add also chicken or beef stock. Spices such as cumin, caraway, anise, coriander, chili can be added to, some people add also bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.  Vegetables such as carrot will add sweetness. You can add also potato or pumpkin to give more body to the liquids. In some countries people add sausages or “chorizo” even bacon, to add more flavor.
Wait until towards the end of cooking to add salt, and be sure that the pulses are completely cooked before mixing in acidic ingredients  such as wine, tomatoes, and lemon. The reason is that salt and acidity will toughen the skins of the pulses, preventing them from softening and this will prolong the cooking time.


  1. When you do not have to much time and you do no dot have a pressure cooker, you can put the pulses in a large pan, cover with 3 times their volume of cold water, and bring quickly to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 1-2 hours. Drain, the pulses are ready to cook.
  2. Make the ought pulses in the traditional way (mentioned in this article)  in advance, cook them but do not add any seasoning. Divide the pulses in portions and storage them in plastic bags in the refrigerator. When you ready to eat your pulses just add the spices, vegetables and salt and give them the flavor that you prefer.
  3. Do not used canned pulsed for salads, they cannot absorb dressing and take on flavors.
  4. Use firm canned beans -black and red kidney beans for example- for stews and to make quick soups.
  5. Before using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans in a sieve or colander.
  6. Broad beans with skins need to be soaked for 48 hours  in several changes of water, then skinned before cooking; skinless broad beans require only an overnight soak.
  7. The red kidney beans and soya beans require a special soaking procedure. Follow the Tips No 1, but boil the bean hard for 10 minutes to destroy toxins in their skin. Remove from the heat, cover and let it soak for 4 hours, then drain and cook.
I hope this help you in the preparation of your pulses….

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