“My love for Rajma Chawal is such that my mom makes it one time and I eat it for 3 meals after.”
I read this somewhere and I so totally identified with it. As kids whenever mom made Rajma Chawal, it used to be a feast. Rajma curry, rice and some cut onions — don’t need anything else. Rajma curry goes great with parathas and naan too but the quintessential pairing is of Rajma and rice. Spicy Rajma Masala with aromatic Basmati rice. mmmm… I am drooling as I write this :-p
My Rajma masala recipe is simple with a few whole and ground spices and a basic onion-tomato gravy. The spices used in the recipe can be found in almost all kitchens cooking Indian food. If you prefer, you can also use Rajma Masala spice mix. I don’t normally use spice premixes as I feel they have unnecessary ingredients and aren’t as fresh. Whole spices add a lot of aroma and flavour to the masala which is lacking in premixed spice blends. Actually I say “my recipe” but it’s not my recipe, I borrowed it from my mom, like many others. She always sticks to simple ingredients and doesn’t believe in any premix spice blends which are filling the supermarket shelves these days.
I use dry red kidney beans and not the canned ones. Again, trying to stay away from anything that comes in a bottle. The dried beans need to be soaked for at least 6-8 hours and best if done overnight. As a result making Rajma for a meal does need some planning the night before.
It is amazing how red kidney beans gravy is cooked in so many cuisines especially Mexican and other South American cuisine. I lived on veg burrito bowls when I was working in US in 2003 and Feijão sem carne when we were traveling in Brazil as there weren’t too many vegetarian options outside the city. They are a blessing for a vegetarian traveller like me and I am sure to find a Mexican joint everywhere we go. You can also make the recipe very thick by adding just little water and serve it with nachos for an Indian style nacho starter!
Rajma Chawal | Rajma Masala Curry
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 1 cup rajma/ red kidney beans , soaked overnight in 4 cups of water
- 2 tbsp oil
- a pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 green chilli , chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes , puréed
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp amchoor
- salt , to taste
- Drain the soaked rajma and pressure cook with sufficient water, salt and turmeric for 4-5 whistles until soft. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and keep aside to allow the steam to escape on its own.
- Heat oil in a deep pan on medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot add asafoetida, cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf and black cardamom in the oil. Stir for about 30 seconds. You can smell the aroma of spices as they are cooking.
- Add green chilli and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté for a minute.
- Add onions and sauté till the onion starts to brown. This would take about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the tomato purée. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add all the other spices. Stir well and cook till the mixture leaves oil on the sides. It takes around 10 minutes.
- By this time the steam from the pressure cooker would have escaped and you can safely open the cooker. Add the boiled rajma, along with the water it is boiled in, to the pan.
- Mix well and simmer for 5-10 minutes till the gravy is of desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
- If the red kidney beans are still not as soft as you would like then add some more water and cook covered for longer till they are soft enough or transfer the rajma masala to the pressure cooker and cook for another 2-3 whistles.
- Total time does not include the overnight soaking time for the red kidney beans.
- The type of Rajma used makes a lot of difference to the taste of Rajma masala and also the time it takes to cook. I use the small Jammu Rajma. If you are using bigger beans, soak them in warm water and also cook them for longer to soften.
- The same recipe can be used to cook other dry kidney beans too.
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