Have you ever had one of those days when you try very hard to please someone, but nothing that you do makes them happy? All you hear is grumbling and moaning, and by the end of the day, you want to slap them hard and tell them to shut up. Well, I had one of those days today. Anyways by the time I came home, I was craving for some comfort food. Now usually comfort food for me is Bengali food, but today the Punjabi genes in me were going on an overdrive. All I could think of was Rajma, Rajma and more Rajma. Rajma or Red Kidney Beans are a Punjabi’s wet dreams come true ;) Literally. We find this deliciously soulful curry comforting and satisfying our inner core. I hardly know any Punjabi’s who have not grown-up eating these or do not love them. Infact I have force-fed these to my husband several times, and he knows when I am depressed or homesick, we will have Rajma that day.
When I had first moved to Perth after a few weeks of eating Non-Indian food, my friend K invited me to her house and made Rajma for me. I remember I had hugged her and cried after seeing the diet because it reminded me so much of home. Every Punjabi kid grows up eating them, and I have yet to meet a Punju who does not like Rajma or has not eaten an unhealthy quantity of it. Strangely, Rajma is not even of Indian origin, just like the Tomatoes, we add in them. Rajma came to India during the Colombian exchange, and Tomatoes were introduced to India by the Portuguese, and now they are such an intrinsic part of our lives.
Every household has their way of making it, but one of the first things with Rajma is that they need to be soaked overnight, which I had not done because I had not counted my Punjabiness to take over me. By the time I was kicking myself mentally for not soaking them, my desire to eat them was growing even more. It was like an addiction that I was unable to shake.
So, I decided to try making them anyways. And while I was on this Punjabi trip, I decided to make some Raita go with it for good measure.
2 Coffee Cups Rajma (Red Kidney Beans)
2 medium-sized Onions
3 Large Tomatoes
1 ½ Tsp Ginger Garlic paste
2 Green Chillies
1 Tsp Cumin seeds
2 Tsp Cumin powder
2 Tsp Red Chilli powder
2 Tsp Coriander powder
1 Tsp Garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Freshly chopped Coriander
1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee to sauté the masala
1/2 tsp Ajwain/Bishops weed (for digestion as are not soaking the Rajma overnight)
2 tsp MDH Rajma masala (optional. A from Spice roots suggested I use it and I loved the results. If you use this masala you don’t need cumin powder & coriander powder)
Wash and Soak the rajma in water for at least an hour or till you prepare the masala.
Heat oil in a pan add the chopped Onions and Green Chillies and sauté. Once the onion starts to sweat and turn brown add the Tomatoes and Ginger Garlic paste and cook till it all becomes mushy.
Let this mixture cool a little before you puree it else your grinder would burst because of the heat.
In the same pan, add 2 tsp of Oil, cumin seeds & Ajwain and add this Puree and let it cook for 7 – 10 minutes or till the oil separates.
Add the Rajma masala (Or Coriander & Cumin powder) Red Chilli, Salt and cook for a further 5 minutes. Once you start getting a faint aroma of the masalas, add the Rajma (without the water) and sauté for another 7 – 8 minutes till the masala becomes dry.
Now you need to use your judgment to add water to this mixture to ensure the Rajma is cooked and at the same time making sure that they do not drown in too much water. As they were not soaked overnight, they would take easily around 30 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker, so there must be enough water to ensure they don’t burn. We are looking for a thick consistency.
I cooked the Rajma for on a medium flame till they were soft and entirely in tune with the masala that they were coated in. It took me around 12 - 14 whistles. Sprinkle fresh coriander & Garam masala on top and serve the Rajma on a bed of hot plain boiled rice with the Raita on the side and please for god’s sake eat it with your fingers, not a spoon. There was something so amazing in the first bite itself that it took all my tiredness away, making me almost sing with joy in every bit.