Have you ever tried to make kidney beans at home in the Indian style for a change?
This recipe is called Rajma and is a perennial favourite of the North Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. This dish is cooked more like meat than lentils. Many wayside eateries or dhabas thrive on serving just Rajma with fragrant Basmati rice and readily find a seemingly never ending queue of diners.
Try this dish once and you will not touch that can of insipid Baked Beans with tomato sauce ever again.
Red Kidney beans (Rajma)-1 small cup
Water-4 cups (same cup as above!)
Chopped Garlic-5 cloves
Chopped Ginger-1 inch (2.5 cm or 1/3rd length of a finger) piece
Garam Masala powder-1/2 teaspoon
Tip: If you can’t get ready-made garam masala mixture from a nearby Indian store, you can make yours by using 1 black cardamom, 3 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, and 1 inch cinnamon-all ground together for this dish.
Turmeric (Haldi)-1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds (Jeera)-1/2 teaspoon
Kashmiri red chilli powder-1/2 teaspoon (just for flavor and not to make it hot)
Clarified butter (Ghee)-2 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Soak the kidney beans overnight in 2 cups of water.
Note: If you don’t pre-soak the beans, the cooking time will be extremely long and the beans may not cook that easily.
Place the pressure cooker on your heat source.
Add the clarified butter and when it melts, add the cumin seeds.
As soon as the cumin seeds turn brown, which takes just a few seconds (do please make sure they don’t burn), add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger.
Sauté well till the onions become translucent and start giving a nice aroma.
Add the kidney beans, along with the chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, salt and sugar.
Sauté for about a minute.
To this mixture, now add the tomatoes.
Roast well till the tomatoes are cooked.
Now add 4 cups of water and close the lid.
Let the cooker come to full pressure i.e. when steam starts escaping from the vent (don’t worry, you will hear that typical sound), and then immediately reduce the heat to minimum.
In other words, if cooking on gas, turn the knob to SIM (mer).
Cook on low heat for 15 minutes more. Thereafter turn off the heat source and let the cooker cool on its own.
Open the lid and see if the Rajma has the desired consistency. In case you want it to be more wettish, you can add some more water. In case you want it drier, then you can put it back on the heat source without the lid and let the water evaporate. While doing either, please remember to keep stirring, so that the Rajma does not burn.
This dish tastes delicious with plain, long grain Basmati rice.
However, if you do not have a pressure cooker, you can still cook Rajma in a deep sauce pan.
This is how most of rural India and wayside eateries still cook their kidney beans, but that does take a much, much longer time.
You will just need to put in slightly more water than suggested for the pressure cooker method.
You will also have to keep checking the Rajma, while it is cooking, to see whether it has become soft and cooked to your liking.
Cooking Rajma in Slow Cooker is also possible. Many claim that this method turns out the tastiest of Rajma.
So pressure cooker or deep sauce pan or slow cooker, which ever be your weapon of choice, you can never go wrong with this recipe.
Prep time: Soak overnight. After that prep time should be about 5 minutes for washing and collecting all ingredients.
Cooking time: 20 minutes with pressure cooker
Total time: 25 minutes
(This recipe is an excerpt from my book “The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Lentils the Indian Way” which is currently on a Kindle Countdown Deal for $0.99 (regular price $4.49) on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk till 19 December 2014. Sadly, this deal is not available outside the UK and the US.)
Feel Free to leave your comments below? Do you find the recipe helpful? What is your favourite lentil dish?
This mission is dedicated to all those friends, relatives and acquaintances who have sampled my mom’s cooking either at my home or at my work place from my lunch-box. I’m starting with Indian cooking, so that the fear of “cooking curries every day” (that my friends in University College London would so often comment on) is banished forever.
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