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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kidney Beans Curry / Rajma Masala Recipe

It’s a well-known fact that north Indians love rajma chawal, my bff has punjabi heritage and it is here that I first witnessed being happily scooped up kidney beans, years later when I got married or discovered that he has a similar love for rice, when it comes to Pakistani food he loves the intensive biryani with a heady masala base, a simple and judiciously spiced chicken pulav or even a gentle veg pulav. He is partial to schezwan fried rice, singaporean rice, shashlik fried rice and even Spanish prawn rice, it should never come to a surprise that he took instantly to spice up kidney beans perfectly balanced with steamed rice.

Dark amber, smooth, silky and the hue of cherry - kidney beans or rajma may sound unfamiliar to those of south Asian origin, a restorative rice and lentil dish with aromatics that not only tastes good but is healthy at the same time. Kidney beans are associated with lunch and features rice that goes well with the thick gravy of flavors, it is finished with chopped cilantro, some versions include cream to provide thicker texture, my first taste of rajma chawal was when her mama served it to us for lunch at her house in breach candy in early 2010. The origin of Rajma or red kidney beans is disputed with one line of thought that it has come from Mexico and Guatemala, soon became the regular diet of north Indians as it is a good source of proteins and cholesterol lowering fiber!

I have been making it since I have been married and given it a regular appearance on our dinner table, I have always cooked it from the memory of my first taste and from my understanding of the sub-continent cooking process, hence I start by soaking beans overnight for a quick start and allowing it to boil for a thick broth laced with the subtle scent of bay leaf and all spice powder, it is a broth based on extracting the essence of the red kidney beans. You can even use canned beans to cut down the time but my choice by default lies in dry beans as comparatively it is simple with zero preservatives and has a lot of nutritional value. If you’re beans lover like me, you’ll love these!

Kidney Beans Curry / Rajma Masala Recipe 

Kidney Beans Curry / Rajma Masala Recipe

Preparation Time: 6-8 hours
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 10 hours
Serves: 3-4 persons

1 cup Red kidney beans/Rajma, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2-3 tablespoons fried onions
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon all spice powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon raw mango powder
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves
2 green chilies
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
A pinch of asafetida
Salt to taste

  • Wash and throw away the water of soaked kidney beans or rajma and rinse with fresh water.
  • In a pot, add kidney beans with 2-3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt, allow it to boil until the beans turn soft and delicate in your mouth.
  • In a blender, add 4-5 roughly chopped tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons fried onions and 2 green chilies, blend into a smooth texture.
  • In a non-stick wok, heat cooking oil and add ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves and ginger-garlic paste, let it fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Transfer the tomato paste and allow it to cook until its raw smell vanishes into thin air.
  • Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon all spice or garam masala powder and mix well. Cook or bhuno until the oil oozes out from the mixture. Add raw mango powder and a pinch of asafetida or hing.
  • Add boiled kidney beans with the remaining stock of beans, the water which was left while boiling beans as it has all the flavor and juices of kidney beans. Allow it to cook covered for 10-15 minutes over a medium flame until the rajma absorbs all the hidden flavors of the gravy.
  • Once the gravy becomes thick and yummy, adjust the salt and add chopped cilantro. Mash the beans a little bit with the help of the spatula. Serve hot with flat bread or steamed rice and mango pickle. Hope you enjoy digging!
  • You can also add cream, butter or ghee for richer and classic gravy.

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