Friday, August 15, 2008

Rajmah, Reconsidered

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.


  1. aha! so someone has been kickin ass in the gym ;)...the rajma looks delicious...will give it try...just don't know when ;)...have a great weekend sra!


  2. 30 minutes in the pressure cooker??? No wonder it looks so well cooked and creamy. The first time I had rajma was in Delhi and it was served with rice. I prefer it with roti, though.

  3. That is super creamy Sra and I have always had with rotis too though I've heard that rice is the best side dish... :) My husband likes rajma only a particular way... have got to try your version. Happy Independence Day.

  4. "I especially hate the tomato skins that separate and float in triangular, rolled up bits in the gravy" hahahhaha

    I usually just pulvurise skin, seed, pulp et al in a good Sumeet Mixie!..just too lazy to blanch, peel, dice...and other civilities ;-)

  5. BTW - Really like your MS Paint portrait! :-)

  6. Rajma(h) looks very creamy indeed!!!

  7. yummy rajma! Looks so good.

  8. What a coincidence! I had Rajma yesterday at a party with rotis. I prefer with rotis though.

  9. I'm glad you rediscovered rajma.
    Here's a link to a blog with an interesting Rajma without any masalas, though I'm yet to try it.
    Check the blog if you haven't been there before.

    Yes, Rajma with Basmati is an experience you need to try.

  10. Happy Independence Day! Glad your Rajmah turned out just right. ;-) Looks really good.


  11. Sra, I used to have a punjabi nanny who cooked rajma almost on a daily basis, call it that effect I kind of stopped making it for a while. visugu vachindi tinni tinni,chala rojulu malli me recipe choosaka try cheyali ani pistundi.

    Happy independence day,way to go with an olympic gold :)

  12. Wow color is awesome and recipe looks creamy.

  13. I have always thought of rajmah as bachelor food. Even now it reminds me the grad school days.

    Will give your recipe a shot one day

  14. Rajma looking real gud and creamy ..

  15. It looks delicious! Have you tried a tin of ready cooked kidney beans? Then you could cook it for longer to make it even more soft.

  16. Rajma...I never liked those, I don't like beans undercooked or overcooked, I am sure there is a perfect doneness, but I haven't figured it out yet.. :(

  17. Rajma rice makes for one of the perfect Sunday Brunch in a north-indian household. Though we north indians eat very less of rice..but it bcomes kinda must wid legumes.

    Using the grated tomatoes will save you from floating skin as well.

  18. Rajitha, hardly kicking ass, check your mail!
    Jayashree, I'm yet to try it with rice, there's a little left over, let's see ...
    Laavanya, which way is that, do post the recipe.
    Dibs, I am the laziest of cooks you can find, but the last three times I used tomatoes, somehow I've found the energy to MW them and peel them. Grinder - I feel lazy on behalf of my help who cleans it! Thanks - I drew the portrait myself.
    Rachel, yep, this is going to repeat itself from now on
    Uma, thanks.
    Vidya, I just ate it with a little cold rice. Prefer it on its own, actually.
    Aparna, yeah, that's the article quoted in the link I included.
    Paz, how are you doing? Thanks.
    Sreelu, I can imagine. Chesinapudu ela undo cheppandi
    Kitchen Flavours, thanks. It was v creamy, reminded me of the restaurant Dal maharani
    Sud, let me know how it worked for you
    Priti, thanks.
    Mallika, no, we don't get them here, or if we do, I haven't noticed
    Sig, better overcooked than under-, is how I feel now.
    Nidhi, yeah, I tried grating tomatoes, too much mess, I felt, and too much juice running away. I guess I should have tried it in a large bowl.

  19. Thats so creamy looking Sra and I bet it would taste good with roti too! We used to make a tangy coconut gravy of rajma to go with rice. Eating them with fried pappads is simply delightful!

  20. i love rajma and can eat it for bf, lunch and even dinner ;) and u r right abt slow cooking. both dal makhani and rajma taste better when they are simmered for hrs. and they taste best the next day IMHO.
    and i dont usually blanch and peel tomatoes. just pulse it in mixie till pureed and add it. works very well for me. no skins or seeds...

  21. Sra,
    rajma looks so deliciuos, Guess what we had today for dinner...but of course with rotis .
    hugs and smiles

  22. Ni, you always mention the most delicious dishes in your comments - will you call me, I'll bring you orange tarts ...
    Sia, I agree with your HO :) - I just finished the last of the rajma and it had really developed the flavours.
    Jaya, what a coincidence, I had the last of the rajma for dinner myself!

  23. Looks delicious,I never knew that rajmah had to be cooked in the pressure cooker that long,will definitely try it that way the next time.
    You have a great blog with some wonderful varieties of recipes:)

  24. I make it this way too but I use a pureed tomato base, and love rajmah any way - on toast, with rice or rotis! I am so glad you reconsidered rajmah - it is worth it as your picture shows:)

  25. Roti...rice...I'll have this creamy dish both ways. : D

    Thanks, Sra, for joining in MLLA2.

  26. Sra, this looks fabulous!

    Tomato skins...yes, I try to get rid of them whenever possible for dishes like this! Gorgeous. Something new to make with my pressure cooker.

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