Rajma-Chawal( Kidney Beans) is a universal favourite.Any Punjabi worth his salt loves his plate of Rajma-chawal.The taste has no comparison to any other and I grew up with my weekly dose of Rajma-Chawal which we had for lunch and in the evening after school. In Punjabi, we call it Mothi and in Hindi, it is known as Rajma.
Mexican cuisine —chilli beans, spicy bean salads, tacos, burritos, etc to our very own Rajma-Chawal, red kidney beans are used widely all over the globe. They are known as ‘kidney beans’ due to their shape which resembles the human kidney. They are undoubtedly one of the tastiest beans and belong to lentils group. Red kidney beans are known as ‘Rajma‘in India and it is rich and iron and protein and as it is generally eaten with rice it is a great source of carbohydrates. So it makes a wholesome meal. It was a great meal for my lunch box and later on for my kids. I have seen my kids as infants loved to eat the red kidney beans by picking up one and popping it into their mouths.
Red kidney beans fall in the group of low glycemic index foods as they do not spike blood glucose levels after a meal in diabetics. As they contain good quality carbohydrates and lean protein it makes them a healthy option. They are low in fat too and that makes it the cherry on the cake. A plate of Rajma chawal makes you feel full for a longer time.
Like my mom I cooked it at least once a week. It can be cooked spicy or not, thick or creamy like the Rajma masala served in restaurants or watery gravy as well. It is overall a delicious and easy Rajma curry.
In most Punjabi homes, Rajma is cooked till it becomes soft enough to melt in the mouth but I like mine with a little bite in them.
Rajma takes quite a long time to cook and it is imperative to soak the Rajma overnight so that they take less time to cook in the pressure cooker. But if in any situation you have not soaked it overnight, then wash the beans and pressure cook them for some time and turn off the gas. Make the masala in the meantime and keep aside. Then open the cooker and add a cup of water and pressure cook again. The Rajma is cooked and then add the masala to it and pressure cook it for 10mins..your Rajma is ready.
I have heard that the Rajma served in Jammu Kashmir region of India is very delicious and famous. If I get a chance to visit Jammu, I am surely going to taste it.
Punjabi Rajma masala is best served with steamed rice but some have it with chapatis or pulkas. I pile my brown bread with leftover rajma for breakfast. I was in Delhi and in daughter’s flat.Once she left for work, I sauntered into the kitchen and saw soaked Rajma, which the cook was going to make. I told her to get the ingredients ready and cooked it myself. It is always a challenge to cook in a bachelor kitchen as you have to make do with what is there. My daughter’s flatmate came sniffing into the kitchen and had a bowl of Rajma as soon as it was cooked.
Recipe For Rajma Chawal
1 cup Rajma or red kidney beans soaked overnight in enough water
3 cups water for pressure cooking
1 tbsp ginger- garlic paste
3 medium tomatoes pureed
1 large onion, chopped, grated or paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
¾ to 1 tsp pav bhaji masala powder
1 tsp of Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Rinse the Rajma beans for a couple of times under running water and soak the Rajma beans in enough water overnight. Drain the soaked Rajma and put it in the pressure cooker. Let the whistle blow at least 6-7 times and the switch it off.
Once the pressure goes down on its own, open the lid and check the beans. The Rajma has to be cooked completely. Pop a bean in your mouth and check if it is done or not.
In a pan, heat the oil and add the ginger garlic paste and sauté then add the onion and the Kasuri methi. Saute till the onion gets a nice rich golden hue. If the masala is not done properly then your gravy will give a raw taste.
Once the oil leaves the sides then add the tomato puree and sauté again till you get a smooth consistency. Now add the turmeric, chilli powder, salt and finally the boiled Rajma. Blend the masala with the Rajma and finally add the water from the boiled Rajma. Check the consistency of the gravy you want and then add water. Now transfer this to a pressure cooker and cook for 5 whistles. Stir nicely and simmer the curry till the consistency thickens. Mash a few Rajma beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the gravy.
When the consistency of the gravy is thickened, then the Rajma masala is ready. Check the taste and add more of salt, Pao bhaji masala, red chilli powder if needed. Garnish Rajma masala with coriander leaves and serve hot rajma masala with steamed rice or with chapatis, parathas or bread.
If you have never had this Rajma-Chawal, then do try it out!