Kinder weather, a day well spent in the gym and at work, a little girl enveloped and tangled up in strings of plastic Indian tricolours which made me wish I carried my camera everywhere, and rajma that turned out creamy and tasty - these are the memories I will carry of today's Independence Day.
I've made rajma in the past but hadn't liked it much. I also especially didn't like the sad tomato gravy that went as the base; I especially hate the tomato skins that separate and float in triangular, rolled up bits in the gravy, so I gave it up altogether. .Recently, however, I started eating rajma again, but only in the form of a bean salad. When I soaked a cup of rajma last night for today's salad, I had a sudden change of heart - I'd been looking up leguminous recipes and this seemed to be calling out. And why not? I had all the ingredients at hand, and was ready to take up the challenge of rajma gravy afresh. The recipe is from Vimla Patil's book Indian Cuisine Dal Roti. I made adjustments in the quantities, not the method.
Rajmah (kidney beans): 1 cup, soaked for 12 hours
Onions: 1 large and 1 small, minced
Garlic paste: 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste: 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Oil: 2 tsp (the recipe recommended ghee)
Tomatoes: 3 small ones, chopped up after skins are removed by blanching, either on stovetop or in MW
Green chilli: 1, chopped
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Ghee: 1/2 tsp
Water: 1-2 cups
Drain the rajmah and wash it thoroughly. Place it in the pressure cooker and cover with water just a little above its level. Pressure cook rajmah for 30 minutes. After the first whistle, lower heat to 'simmer' and let it cook for 30 minutes. Do not remove from fire unless you are worried about it burning. After the 30 minutes, remove from the fire and let it cool down gradually.
In a pan, heat the oil and fry the minced onions.
Add the turmeric and coriander powders. Also the ginger, green chilli and garlic.
Keep stirring and add the chopped tomatoes and salt.
Add some water, cover and let it cook to a mush.
If it's drying out and not pulpy enough, add some more water.
When you think it's thick and mushy enough, add the kidney beans.
Cook till creamy and soft.
Add the half teaspoon of ghee to this and serve hot.
- Notes: It is important to slow-cook the rajmah, and for that long - I don't remember cooking it this long earlier, no wonder I hadn't liked the results.
- The tomatoes: It's a personal preference that I like them skinless in gravies - makes the gravies smoother.
- And keep turning the gravy around - this mashes some of the beans and thickens the gravy further.
- Adding that bit of ghee at the end made it all the more mellow. I hadn't ever done this before.
The South Indian that I am, I had assumed the traditional accompaniment to rajmah was rotis. As I found out just a couple of years ago, it's rice. I imagine it would taste great with a fine, scented variety such as Basmati but as I hadn't been particular and The Spouse had already made the rice, it was eaten with the everyday variety. It's going to frequent my table from now on!
This goes off to aid dear Susan's love affair with the legumes.
For a more comprehensive post on Rajmah (and instructions on how to cook it without a pressure cooker), go here.
Legume Love Affair Rajmah/Kidney Beans Vegetarian Event