Often debated as the easiest or the hardest recipe to get right, Rajma is undoubtedly North India's favourite comfort curry recipe. Devoured with rice or paratha again becomes a long argument but it tastes delicious with both, let's just say that. This red kidney bean recipe varies from household to household but the basics are almost the same. The garam masala or the rajma masala then goes on to become the secret behind the distinctive taste of the curry. It's a mixture of roasted spices ground to make a delectable masala powder or just a ready-made packet bought from the supermarket. All is good because some of the store-bought packets can do magic too like the one I used for my recipe, Orika Rajma Masala.
The best part about it is the packaging of this masala. It doesn’t come in a paper box but a pouch which has a seal zip lock system attached. So, when you’re not using it, store it zip-locked in the fridge and it can be kept safe in an air-tight condition for 3 months.
The Instant formula: The best rajma recipe for me is personally using smaller kidney beans than the regular size. For one, it needs to be soaked for lesser time and therefore the cooking process decreases too.
I remember when I was young my mother would make Rajma and I was always fond of eating it with a phulka roti. Coming from a Gujarati family, my mother would add a touch of jaggery too. Many might frown upon the idea but it was a clever way to balance off the spiciness and tanginess of this hearty dish. So, here goes my recipe:
2 cups of small-sized red kidney beans
500 ml water
1 cup finely chopped red onions
1 cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon grated ginger
4-5 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon Orika Masala
1 finely chopped green chili
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon dried fenugreek powder
2 teaspoons salt
Handful of chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons oil
How To Prep:
Wash and soak the kidney beans in water for 3-5 hours or overnight.
Wash the soaked beans and strain them. Add them to a pressure cooker with the turmeric powder and salt and about 6 cups of water. Pressure cook the beans for 4-5 quick whistles and then turn off the gas. Do not open the pressure cooker lid before 5-10 minutes or until the rajma is soft.
Heat oil in kadhai over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sputter add the asafoetida, onions and green chili. Once the onions turn translucent, add the tomato puree, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste and red chili powder. Cook until the smell of raw spices dissipates.
(Note: For thicker gravy: Add 2 tablespoons of the cooked kidney beans with a tablespoon of water and blend to make a thick paste. Leave it aside)
As the tomato paste reduces add in the rajma from the pressure cooker. Bring it to a boil for 5-10 minutes and let all the masala infuse in the tomato gravy. Add salt to taste. (Optional: Add in the thick paste you made earlier). Now add the Orika masala and set heat on low. Let the curry simmer and keep stirring until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency.
Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle the dried fenugreek leaves.
Think of her as a delicacy. She could be a red sauce penne pasta or refreshing strawberry smoothie. A little sweet, quite tangy and unapologetic on the palate. Her soul is that of a gastronome, mind of an illustrator and heart of a writer. She uses these ingredients to plate up tasty stories about food at India Food Network as an Associate Editor. Be it her blogs, articles, reviews or food shows; she promises a wholesome affair.