Friday, May 17, 2013

Daily Dinner (17): Rajma Rasedaar

This then, is the prelude to last week's post. 

The only thing I loved more than rice growing  up, was Rajma...

The ongoing joke was that for me to get married, my maama (maternal uncles) will have to make sure that I had enough Rajma-chawal to last me my whole life. For no one in Rajasthan (in my naani's world) ate either rice or kidney beans....

My grandma (naani) had not seen Rajma (red kidney beans) till they shifted base to Bhatinda, Punjab.  And then, all the age-old inhibitions came to the front. She never learnt to cook or eat these beans. To her, the color, shape and meatiness of them was a big put off. To some extent she even refused to believe that red kidney beans were a plant product.....not so, though, for my mom's younger siblings. All four of them would scout the neighborhood Punjabi families, and make themselves available at whoever's table was serving Rajma


My mom's summer visits therefore, were highly sought after. Because being married to my dad (who was actually an infidel in my naani's eyes because he loved onions, and all things niramish), she had learnt to not only cook Rajma, but she could also cook it with onions and tomatoes and make it taste like Punjabi Rajma!

Then there was me- I could eat Rajma for breakfast, lunch and dinner; 365 days a year; and not complain.  I expected  it at least once a week, and asked for it to be made every other day. The day my mom made it, I'd make sure that she had extra to pack me for some for school, and then some more for one more meal. If not....life stopped!!

Like it or not, this love for Rajma (and tantrum throwing....but I was never as bad  ...I don't think:-))) is the only trait I seem to have passed down to my older daughter Anya! We have to make a Rajma-chawal meal at least once a week...if not for her, then for me :-)

Rajma Rasedaar
(Red kidney beans in a tomato gravy)


Red kidney beans/Rajma 1.5 cups *
Water 4 cups to cook + more to soak
Salt and red paprika powder to taste
For the gravy:
Onion 1 medium chopped
Tomato 2 medium chopped
Tomato paste 1 tsp
Green chillies 2 chopped
Ginger a big chunk, grated/ chopped fine

For tempering:
Oil 2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds 1tsp
Ajwain/ caraway seeds 1Tbsp

* I use my MIL's fist-measure for dry beans- 1 fist for every adult. For a family of 4, 3 fistfuls + some extra to account for next day :-)
  1. Wash and soak the beans in plenty of water for 6-8hrs. I usually do this overnight. Then drain the excess water.
  2. In a pressure cooker, cook the beans with 4 cups of water and 1/2Tbsp salt till tender. Usually takes about 30 min. I add the grated ginger and chillies in while boiling.
  3. Heat the oil, splutter the cumin and caraway seeds.
  4. Then add the onions, sauté till translucent.
  5. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Sauté on low heat till oil leaves the sides.
  6.  Now drop in the boiled beans, adjust seasoning and simmer for another 10 min.  or so. I just close the lid of the pressure cooker for 5 min. 
  7. When done, smash some of the beans to get a thicker gravy, garnish with cilantro, and serve. Goes best with white, long-grained rice.

My two cents: Anya had been asking me for Rajma-Chawal for over a week when I wrote my piece last week.  I kept forgetting to soak the beans, till the day she threw a massive tantrum, with tears as big as basketballs avalanching down her cheeks. Reminded me of my incidence with my mom and Cheeni ka Paratha. I tried to sway her with the same sweet treat, didn't work, and so we ended up with this meal the next day.


Rajma-chawal is a hallmark of Kashmiri, and Punjabi cuisines in India. I have since learnt from a student that it is a much-loved comfort food in Puerto Rico. They add bacon to it though. The kidney beans found commonly in Indian stores are the small, red Kashmiri variety, the mid-sized pinkish Chitra and the large, deep red kind. The three differ not only in the meatiness and bite of the bean, but also in cook times. I prefer the large red ones to any other. Also the ajwain seeds- supposedly they aid in digestion and reduce flatulence. Like most beans, kidney beans are notorious for inducing intestinal bloating. Ajwain, I feel, helps reduce that. I also like to leave chunks of onion and tomato in my dish.  If you don't, you can always puree them.

Linked to:
Walk through the memory lane @Nivedhanam, started by Gayathri
Cook like mom event at Foodelicious
Celebrate Love for mom @Tangy minds
MLLA 59 @ Sizzling tastebuds. The event was started by Susan and is now managed by Lisa