A lot of us know that lentils need to be soaked before cooking (while some may be hearing it for the first time), but did you know the reason behind why lentils should be soaked?


Lentils are small legumes that are rich in fiber and protein. These lentils are also called as “pulses” and come in many types like beans, peas, chickpeas, black eyed beans, dals, kidney beans etc.

Well if you want to know why soaking these lentils is important then, check out this article to learn about the benefits of soaking lentils before cooking them and what’s the right way of soaking these lentils.

Benefits of soaking lentils before cooking:

  • Lentils or pulses can naturally be a cause for gas formation and bloating in the body. Thus, soaking the lentils will help neutralize the gas forming enzymes and ensure smoother digestion.
  • Soaking lentils are known to enhance the rate of mineral absorption in the body. An enzyme phytase is activated when dal is soaked, that aids in breaking down phytic acid.
  • When lentils are soaked it can also increase the rate of the absorption of minerals into the body from the food we consume.
  • Soaking lentils can help set off ‘amylase’, a compound that can break down the starch found in lentils and can make them easier to digest.
  • When lentils are soaked, it can reduce the effects of any harmful natural compounds like tannins or phytic acid.
  • Soaking of lentils can also help soften them and reduce the time taken for them to cook..

How to soak lentils the right way?

Step 1: Washing the lentils

Take the quantity of lentils you are going to cook in a bowl. Add in some water to cover all the lentils and sift them using your fingers to get rid of any dust, dirt and impurities.  Then pour into a strainer and rinse under running water. Repeat this process two to three times.

There are times small stones or rock pieces are found in lentils and biting down on one can crack your tooth. So make sure to check for these tiny particles while washing your lentils.

Step 2: Soaking the lentils

All you need to do is take your washed lentils in a bowl and top up the bowl with water until the water completely submerges the lentils.

Let the water be at least an inch higher than the lentils.

Lentils of different types require different hours of soaking, while the ideal time to soak lentils is anywhere between 2 to 8 hours in general. This is why a lot of people choose to soak their lentils overnight.

Take for example dal (or split pulses), they can even be soaked for just 30 minutes to an hour before cooking, while pulses like chickpeas, kidney beans, black eyed beans etc require to be soaked for 8 hours to 12 hours.

Tip: Changing the lentil-soaked water twice or thrice during your soaking process can help reduce gas formation when consuming them.

Step 3: Cooking the lentils

Once you’ve soaked your lentils for the required amount of time, then it is ready to cook.

Before cooking them, make sure to discard the water you’ve soaked your lentils in and rinse it once more with plain or cold water. Strain it and then it is ready to use.

Discarding the lentil-soaked water is essential as it contains tannins or something called phytic acid. Consuming this substance can reduce the absorption of minerals from you’re the food you are eating.