RECIPE: RAJMA MASALA | RED KIDNEY BEAN CURRY
Rajma Masala or simply known as Rajma is a popular North Indian curry dish which is usually enjoyed with rice. Red Kidney Beans, onion, tomato, garlic and spices makes this rajma comfort for so many. Besides rice it is also served with hot roti. But my family loves it with plain rice. Rajma masala is a healthy, filling and protein rich meal with rice or roti.
Evidently, cook Rajma Chawal for my son in law and he is the happiest person on Earth!
MY EXPERIENCE WITH DRIED RAJMA
Don’t know what it is, but whenever I buy dried kidney beans, be it in India or Kenya, they never turn out soft on cooking. Yes, I soak them overnight, have also added a bit of baking soda, cooked them with endless number or pressure cooker whistles till I have turned deaf!
Because of my luck with dried kidney beans, I stopped buying them myself. When in Kenya I usually use the fresh kidney beans whenever in season or ask my house help to buy them for me. Whenever he buys them, they cook well.
Undoubtedly, in India so many recommended Kashmiri Rajma and still failed to cook them to the soft consistency. Basically, if the beans are too old, they do not cook well, even if you soak them in warm water overnight. Then, once I ordered them online from Big Basket and voilà they turned out perfect.
In fact, I remember I made some rajma for Nami’s friends(mostly from North India) in Bangalore. Usually, I get a lot of oohs and aahs and sooo delicious aunty for all my food preparations. However, rajma is a different story altogether. Actually, I was trying to compete with North Indian mums for whom making rajma is not a big deal. Got praises for the other dishes but not a sound for rajma. Poor things! So when next time Nami insisted I make rajma, I told her ask your friend’s mum to make them!
And I kept on wondering why she would ask me to make rajma! It doesn’t feature as a common dish in our household. After years got to know why. Actually, it was for her then boyfriend, now my son in law!
As a matter of fact, Nami’s friend’s mum makes yummy rajma and whenever I would ask her how she made them… she would say “arre Mayuri, koi special tarika nahi , stir fry onions,garlic, ginger etc etc etc and there your rajma is ready. Tried explaining to her that my rajma are always hard but she refused to believe that!
- When in Kenya, I freeze fresh kidney beans when in season and use those for all my recipes that need kidney beans. If I need to use the dry beans then I prefer to buy the Wairimu tiny red beans.
- In India, I buy them online only from Big Basket and that too the Kashmiri or Jammu rajma variety.
- Whenever I make them in Canada, I simply open a can, drain the beans out, wash them in water and use them. I try and buy the small red beans as opposed to the giant ones. No ‘jhanjat’ of them remaining hard. I will have to look for the dried variety. My online Indian store does sell the Jammu variety but are so expensive.
SOME RECIPES WHERE I USE RED/BLACK KIDNEY BEANS
Try Out this fusion recipe Mexican Bhel
INGREDIENTS REQUIRED FOR RAJMA MASALA
Specifically, I prepare a special rajma spice powder to add to my rajma masala. Ready made ones are available in any Indian Grocery Store but I find they hardly have any flavour.
FOR RAJMA SPICE MIXTURE YOU NEED:
- Cumin Seeds
- Pepper Corns
- Star Anise
- Bay Leaf
- Ginger Powder
- Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- Red Chilli Powder
- Asafoetida – omit if you want to make gluten free rajma masala. Or try and source pure hing which has no wheat flour added to it.
FOR THE RAJMA MASALA
- Red Kidney Beans – soak them overnight in enough warm water. Or use fresh kidney beans or canned ones.
- Water – normal tap water. Warm water to soak the beans. Also need some to cook the beans.
- Onion – peeled and finely chopped. Some you need to mince.
- Garlic – peel and mince.
- Fresh Ginger – peel and grate, make into a paste or cut into very thin strips.
- Green Chillis – make a paste
- Cumin Seeds – jeera, jiru. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
- Carom Seeds – ajwain, ajmo. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
- Turmeric Powder – haldi, hardar. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
- Salt – add according to your taste.
- Red Chilli Powder – add according to your taste. I don’t usually add as they is enough in the spice mixture. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
- Rajma Masala Spice Powder – I make mine at home. Feel free to buy ready made if you wish.
- Oil – use any of your choice. I like to use sunflower oil.
- Ghee – I love adding ghee for the aroma and flavour. You can omit it if you want to make vegan rajma masala.
- Fresh Cream – optional. Omit for a vegan version. Can add coconut cream instead.
- Fresh Coriander – cilantro – chopped along with the tender stems.
PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT GET PAID BY SINGHAL’S OR BIG BASKET. I MENTIONED BOTH AS THEY ARE MY FAVOURITE ONLINE STORES.
RAJMA MASALA | RED KIDNEY BEAN CURRY
RAJMA SPICE POWDER:
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 8 peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp dry ginger powder
- 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder hot
- ⅛ tsp asafoetida
FOR RAJMA MASALA:
- 1½ cups red kidney beans
- 4 to 5 cups of water
- 2 to 3 big onions to get 1½ cups finely chopped onions and ½ cup for mincing
- 1 cup tomato puree fresh
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp carom seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1-1½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp green chilli paste
- 1 inch ginger peeled and cut into thin strips or 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 3 tbsp fresh cream optional
- 3 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
PREPARATION OF RAJMA MASALA SPICE POWDER:
- Heat a small pan over low heat.
- Add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and anise star. Roast it while stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
- Add cumin seeds and roast further for 2-3 minutes or till the seeds turn brownish.
- Remove the spices into a plate and allow them to cool down completely.
- Process the spices in a coffee mill or pound it with a pestle and mortar.
- Add asafoetida, ginger powder and red chilli powder to the mixture and mix well.
PREPARATION OF RAJMA MASALA:
- Soak the beans overnight in warm water.
- Next day drain out the stale water, wash the beans and put them in a pressure cooker with about 3 cups of water (from the measured amount) or till the beans are covered with water.
- Add turmeric powder and cook the beans for 3 to 4 whistles or till done.
- Chop the onions finely to get 1½ cups of it. Mince the remaining half cup.
- Heat oil and ghee in a big pan over medium heat.
- Add cumin and carom seeds. As soon as it turns light brown, add the chopped onions.
- Stir fry the onions till they are soft and appear pink in colour.
- Add the minced onion, ginger strips, garlic and chilli paste. Stir fry till it becomes light brown and the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
- Add the spice powder and stir fry for a minute.
- Add ½ cup water and mix thoroughly.
- Add the tomato puree, salt and mix well. Cover the pan and let the tomato mixture cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
- Mash about ½ cup beans or lightly mash the whole mixture.
- Add the beans to the tomato mixture. Add the remaining water.
- Mix well and let the rajma simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remember to stir it occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Just before serving add the chopped coriander and fresh cream.
- Serve with hot parathas, rotis or rice.
- You may need about 2 cans of beans if you are not using the dry ones.
- The consistency of the rajma curry base will depend on how you like it. Mine was not watery as we prefer it thick. Add more water for a lighter curry.
- If you want to do an extra tempering (vaghar) for the top then heat some ghee in a small pan. Add red chilli powder and immediately pour it over the rajma masala. Do not stir.Serve.
- Adjust the amount of spices according to your taste.
- For those living in Kenya, I use the wairimu variety of red beans. In India, I prefer the Jammu/Kashmir Rajma.
- Use ready rajma masala (spices) if available in your area.
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