Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dee-Day (2): Rajmah-Chawal - a guest post by Harpreet

Friendship hits one with uncanny unpredictability. Many many years ago, when A planned a vacation with a colleague from work in New York, I wasn't expecting to make a life-long friend. They were a newly wed couple- she gregarious and loud, he shy and forever smiling. They complemented each other beautifully. In less than an hour, I knew all about her. Nothing about him, except that he loved her! Soon thereafter, they moved to the West Coast. But we kept in touch, first via email, then the social media.  In the past decade, we've hardly met   twice. But I feel like she never went away. Of the things I admire about her, the biggest is her enthusiasm in all things in life. Like a true-bred Punjaban, she grabs the bull by the horn, and rides on uproariously. A working mom with two daughters, she still finds time to come up with these amazing Halloween costumes for her girls or to go one-on-one dates with her  husband. She had expressed a desire to start blogging when I first started to write. So she was a natural choice to go to for this second guest piece. I am humbled by how quickly she obliged….

Here's Harpreet, with her tribute to her mom, mother-in-law; and of course to herself as a mom with this very quirky Rajmah story. A point to note, she uses the pink Chitra Rajmah variety in her dish. In my previous post, I'd used the dark red beans. The difference, of course, is in the cooking times and meatiness of the texture. Read on for a true authentic Punjabi version of Rajmah:


Harpreet Kaur

When Deepika opened her food blog for guest’s entries I felt so excited at the idea. I thought maybe this is the signal I have been waiting for to start writing again. But then, like always,  a combination of work, laziness and other priorities jumped in front of this . I had forgotten all about it until Deepika left me message asking if I’d like to write something for Mother’s day. I immediately jumped and grabbed the thought, and started thinking about my recipes that I can share.
After walking down the memory lane one dish stood out for me that not only incorporates my childhood memories, but it also involves hubby and and kids.
Fourteen years ago I came to US right after our wedding with hardly any experience in cooking. When I started exploring my cooking skills, the pressure cooker became my new best friend, and eventually, I found my passion in cooking by experimenting my way through pressure cooker recipes. My poor husband was my only audience and had to eat and pretend to enjoy my cooking experiments. Being married to non-Punjabi guy there is hardly any similarity between our culture and food. So while he ecncouraged my experimenting with cooking,  the one thing that he instructed me strictly was to not cook Rajmah.  He hated Rajmah – the quintessential Punjabi dish. I took that as personal challenge and I was on a mission to not only cook Rajmah, but to make it one of his favorite dishes.
Rajmah and rice is my most favorite comfort food that I relish to the core since my childhood. It was kind of a tradition in our household to cook Rajmah with rice very Tuesday night.  On Wednesday, I ‘d take the left overs to school for lunch. My friends all loved my Mom’s Rajmah. Too bad for me that I never learned her way of making this dish, but I always remember her mantra for cooking – “Keep it simple and quick”.
After few cooking accidents I finally managed to master Rajmah, not exactly the way my Mom used to make, but pretty close, with little help from her special masala that she still sends me in batches from India. And today Rajmah is not only my hubby’s, but also my very picky little one’s favorite as well. A few years back when my hubby’s mom visited us, he cooked Rajmah for her on Mother’s day. Now, on every any special day, including Mother’s day, when the family wants to indulge me and cook for me, they cook Rajmah with rice.
With Mother’s day fast approaching I would like to share my recipe of Rajmah and rice meal with all of you moms out there.
You can serve this with Roti, Naan or my favorite, basmati rice. Since it tastes even better next day, , enjoy the leftovers next day with rice. This is what happens in my home where I make sure I have enough leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

  • 3 cups dry, unsoaked Kidney beans (preferably not canned)
  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped (I used Red onions)
  • 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • About one and half inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped.
  • 1 head or bulb of garlic (I love garlic so I use more)
  • 2-3 green chillies thinly sliced (or as per taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin-coriander powder
  • 1- bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro and finely chopped onions for garnish
Ingredients for Garam Masala
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1-2 whole green cardamoms
  • 2-3 Black cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  1. Pressure cook rajmah with finely chopped onion, ginger, salt to taste and turmeric powder with five six cups of water for two whistles and then on medium heat for extra 30 -35 mins (as Rajmah were not pre soaked) or until Rajmah are totally cooked and soft. Make sure you have enough water in pressure cooker.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan. Add bay leaves and garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is light brown for about two minutes. 
  3. Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and stir. 
  4. Add tomatoes and green chillies and cook till tomatoes are cooked and oil leaves the masala. 
  5. Add masala to Rajma along and mix. 
  6. Cook on low heat for fifteen minute stirring in between. 
  7. Adjust salt and add garam masala powder. Cook for five minutes. 
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and add ghee (optional) and serve hot with steamed rice.
Don’t use dark color kidney beans as they take longer to cook and that case presoak the Rajmah to cut cooking time.

Isn't it fun to get connected? If you are interested in writing a guest post, please email me at mylifeandspice dot gmail dot com. More details about submissions can be found here.