… Kidney Beans, Punjabi-style
Rajma with rice tastes good cooked almost any way. However, a great rajma is … well, we couldn’t find the right word.
Until C Y Gopinath said this of one of the best rajmas he’s eaten:
“Inderjit Singh does nothing to his rajma. That’s probably why it tastes so special …
His rajma is the second purest I have ever eaten. The purest was at the home of a schoolmate in Old Delhi decades ago. I remember steaming rice, a clear hot spoonful of ghee, and an overwhelming rajma — medium brown, not submerged under a cavalry of cardamoms, cloves, gingers and garlics, not mashed, not forced to join hands with black dal. The red kidney bean, allowed to speak for itself, emitted a mellow purr, mumbling first but growing in confidence with every mouthful.”
That’s the word: PURE. We’ve been looking for the “purest’” rajma for years now – creamy, nutty, where the bean is allowed to assert itself.
We haven’t achieved that. This recipe adapted from Gopi’s comes close, but it has got a lot to do with the quality of the beans, we think. The kidney beans in India are creamier and tastier than those in the U.S. Even within varieties found in India, the smaller dark red Kashmiri kidney beans just blow the others out of the water.
We’ve found three types of red beans in U.S. grocery stores (Hispanic section)
Left to right: Red Beans (frijoles rojos pequeños), kidney beans, red Salvadorean beans
This recipe works with any of these varieties. Our favourite are the small red beans (frijoles rojos pequeños). Their paste is also used to stuff sweet Chinese dumplings. They cook up really fast and are creamy with a sweet nuttiness. The smaller Salvadorean variety taste closer to red cowpeas (chori).
This rajma has just five ingredients excluding salt and water.
1.5 cup dried kidney beans/red beans
Soak 4 hours or overnight. Throw the water, add 3 cups fresh water and pressure cook with salt to taste for 3-4 whistles (depending on the size of bean). Or cook on the stovetop until it holds its shape, but mashes easily between the fingers.
If you have a slow cooker, this is a good place use it. (If using kidney beans, boil them for 15 minutes first. If using red beans, add them directly to the slow cooker)
Fry in 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 cup chopped red onion (or shallots) until golden.
1/2 cup chopped tomato
and fry until it releases it’s juices and begins to dry up and get really thick.
Add cayenne powder to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
Blend this along with
1/3 cup of the cooked beans and a tablespoon of the bean liquid
to a smooth paste.
Add this to the beans and simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Let it sit for a while to let the flavours come together.
Tastes better the next day.
Do not mash. Do not garnish with coriander. Do not garnish with anything. Do not add garam masala. Do not speak while eating.
We disregarded his ‘do not mash’ dictum, ‘cos we found the gravy to be too watery otherwise. We totally agree with the rest.
Rajma with black rice, green salad and a mandarin orange.
CLICK: Beans ‘n Lentils
Event Details HERE
Camera: Canon EOS 300D
Lens: 100 mm macro
Shutter speed: 0.25 sec
ISO Speed: 200
DEADLINE: May 30, 2008
Red beans and ricely yours,
That’s how the great musician would sign his mail.
Which is your your favourite rajma recipe? If you have a link, please post it in the comments section.
- The Jugalbandits