Here's a few things that you need to understand first about anti-nutrients in foods, especially in legumes and beans.
Imagine if you were a plant, would you want any insect, pest or animal to eat you? No, right!
The two basic instincts of all of existence are A - Survival and B - Reproduction. Now, think of it this way, like we humans have an immune system and cognitive abilities that protect us from viruses, bacterias and bigger threats to our survival, similarly a lot of plants have something called Anti-nutrients, which are designed to protect plants from being eaten by insects and other bacterial infections.
What exactly are Anti-nutrients and the most popular types?
As the name suggests, like nutrients are what nourish us to grow and be healthy, anti-nutrients are ones which inhibit the absorption of nutrients in the body and take away from our optimal health.
You must have heard the following jargons for sure...these are the popular anti-nutrients -
Oxalates, which bind to calcium and prevent its absorption in the body. Found in spinach, nuts, beets, beans etc.
Tannins, that decrease absorption of iron, are found in tea, coffee, legumes etc.
Phytates, which decrease the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium; easily found in whole grains, seeds, legumes and some nuts
Lectins, that interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, comprise legumes, beans, peanuts, soybeans, whole grains
Saponins, in legumes and whole grains, interferes with overall nutrient absorption in the body.
If you see closely, you'll observe that legumes and beans are the common factor in all of the above!
So many people who I work with tell me that they eat only home cooked meals and nutritious food, yet they have deficiencies and are struggling with ill health. While there are several factors that cause disease the most primary cause is HOW people actually cook and consume their foods.
What is really shocking is seeing knee pain and ankle pain issues in people as young as in their 20s...and the saddest thing is that EVERY single person that I have worked with has been deficient in some or the other nutrient. I really don't think this is how humans were supposed to evolve...sadddd...hmmm...anyways, coming back to topic.
Why the pressure cooker is an issue when it comes to cooking lentils and beans?
The first thing of course is to wash your daals and beans well, second step is to soak them overnight and always throw away the soaking water, but this is not enough when it comes to getting rid of anti-nutrients in the food - the most important thing is to remove the scum that accumulates on top of your daals when boiling them.
Here's a picture of how much scum came up on my Urad plus Rajma mixture, when boiling them for my Dal Makhani, despite soaking it overnight.
And even if you are someone that doesn't care about nutrition at this point but takes the taste of their food seriously, this is super important for you as well. That off and fermenty (I don't think that's a word but you get it) smell and grainy texture of your daals is also because you didn't remove the scum.
Andddd...if you are neither of the above but are sick of feeling bloated, gassy and farty all the time...you NEED to remove the anti-nutrients from your food, which is not possible when cooking in a pressure cooker.
My trick to removing anti-nutrients while still using the pressure cooker to cook your lentils and beans -
None of us really truly have the time to cook, let alone cook our daals and rajmas for 2-3 hours in an open vessel, so what can we really do about the whole anti-nutrient problem!
I'd like to share what I do - so I start with throwing away the water in which my beans and lentils were soaking and re-washing them twice with fresh water. Then you add them to a pressure cooker with fresh cooking water and allow it to come to a boil on a medium to high flame. This is when you will see all the scum coming up to the surface. Use a ladle spoon to skim it off and throw it away.
In about 10-15 min of doing so you will see the surface clearing up and turning glossy like in the picture here.
After this you close the lid of the pressure cooker, but without the whistle! You split lentils will take another 15 min to cook, while the whole lentils might take 20-30 min to cook completely. If you are cooking larger beans like chana or rajma you may even put the whistle weight on the pressure cooker.
Once the daals are cooked, add in your favourite tadka and viola! You are now eating a daal that adds to your health complete and not take away from it.
Recipe off my winter favourite Dal Makhani coming soon...