Friday, 9 November 2012

Rajma (Red kidney beans)

You can make this two or three ways depending how much time you want to give it.  I love making it from dried kidney beans without use of a pressure cooker, but you can use a pressure cooker to speed the cooking of the beans up if you wish or even use tinned kidney beans.

You can buy kidney beans in any English supermarket, dried or cooked in tins. Rajma is proper comfort food, a dish that is served a lot on Sunday, always regarded as a real luxury dish.

You can cook this as a vegan or vegetarian dish I shall give both variations so you can choose.  I love it just with rice, or you can serve it with yoghurt or raita as a side dish, or have a veg dish with it but really doesn't need anything.

You can also decide to make this dish Sathvick just remove the garlic and onions, it takes on a whole new flavour complex.

Ingredients for serving 3-4

  • I cup/ 200g of kidney beans.  Wash the kidney beans well and soak in double the volume of water over night.  If you don't have over night to soak them then wash them and soak them in boiling water from the kettle for a couple of hours or until they have swollen and longer wrinkly.
Tarka - We cook the beans and tarka separately and then combine them.
  • 3tbsp Light olive oil or (Ghee-clarified butter if you are making this vegetarian)
  • 1/2 Chopped onion
  • 1-2" fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped/ grated
  • 1 cloves of garlic finely/ grated
  • 1 -2 fresh green chilli's chopped (the more you put in the hotter it gets)
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes or chop a few fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Cumin/ Jeera
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano seeds/ Ajowan seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 1 tsp Turmeric/ Haldi
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Hand full of fresh chopped coriander or use frozen.


  1. Wash your kidney beans again after the soaking and add them to a thick based pan, and top up with 2" or 5cm boiling water from kettle (this just speeds up the cooking). Cover and set it going at a medium heat so the beans boil and cook but not boil over.  Whilst cooking your beans may develop a white froth, just skim this off with a ladle and tip it down the sink.
  2. It takes about an hour to cook, you know when they are cooked as the beans are nice and mashey  inside and some of the skins have split, the water will have turned a red colour, mash some of the beans down with your ladle or a masher.  By the way you cannot overcook beans, they just get yummier the more you cook them.  While these are cooking we can cook our Tarka.
  3. In a second pan add your oil/ghee, set the pan at a slow heat this is the secret to good tasting Indian cooking, this recipe is pretty idot proof, just keep your heat low and you can't go wrong.  Add your cumin seeds and ajowan seeds, when they begin to crackle add your onion.
  4. Cook the onion till it is light brown and then add your garlic, ginger and chilli, stirring frequently.
  5. Continue to cook this till the garlic and ginger is brown too, if the ginger starts to stick to the pan just add a couple of tea spoons of water and stir until it comes free.
  6. Once the mix is caramel coloured, add your dry spices and salt and tomatoes, you have now made your tarka.
  7. Continue to cook this for a few more minutes until it is bubbling together nicely and the tomatoes have started breaking down, then add the tarka to your pot with the boiled beans!  Add a little of the bean liquor to your tarka pan to make sure you get all the yummy spices and oil off and add back to the bean pot.
  8. Once combined the tarka I like to cook my daal for another 20mins, you can cook it for longer on a slow heat the flavours just develop further. The thari (gravy) will just get thicker and creamier. Taste it and add more salt if you like more.
  9. Last stage is to add your coriander and serve with rice or roti and enjoy! 

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