Rajma is a popular North Indian curry relished with plain or zeera (cumin) rice. Its a thick red kidney beans gravy flavored with spices. Not only its a staple diet for most north Indians, this curry is immensely popular and loved across the globe. You will find this curry cooked as a regular meal to special occasion menu's and not to forget mentioning its permanent place on the restaurant menu.
For me the key to good Rajma is cooking the beans perfect which I've now mastered thanks to my MIL. Like most North Indian recipes you see on this space this one is passed on to me by her. This also being my Hubby's favorite recipe and now mine too its our preferred weekend lunch/brunch.
For cooking the Red Kidney Beans:
1 cup of red kidney beans
1-2 black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
1 -1 inch piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt or to taste
3-4 cups of water
For the Rajma Masala Gravy:
1-2 tbsp oil for cooking
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp green chilli paste or 2-3 green chillies finely chopped (or to taste)
2-3 tomatoes pureed (skin removed) OR 2 heaped tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dry Fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
2-3 tbsp cream of cream (optional skip for vegan)
salt and pepper to taste
Few coriander leaves for garnishing
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tsp dry mango powder
1 tsp garam masala (or to taste)
Soak the Rajma overnight (or for 8 hrs) then drain. To cook Rajma, in a pressure cooker add the soaked, drained rajma. To it add salt, cinnamon stick and black cardamom along with water. On high flame cook till 4-5 whistles; then reduce to low. Cook on low for 15-30 mins. Switch of the gas and wait for the steam to go away completely before trying to open the pressure cooker lid. Rajma cooked this way comes out really soft.
In a cooking vessel, heat oil on medium flame and once hot add bay leaves and cumin seeds, when the seeds crackle add the asafoetida and onions. Saute till onions turn light brown. Then add the ginger, green chilli and garlic paste. Saute till the garlic smell disappears.
Now add the tomato paste/puree and mix followed by all ingredients listed under "Spices" along with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add very little water if you are finding difficulty in mixing. Cook until the masala thickens and you see some oil oozing out from the sides. That's the indication that our masala paste is ready.
By this time, the steam from the pressure cooker should have subsided. Open the lid and drain the Rajma, don't throw the liquid in which you boiled the Rajma since we will be using it to adjust the curry consistency. Now add the Rajma to the masala paste and keep adding 1 cup of that boiled Rajma liquid till you get the consistency you are looking for. Increase the flame to medium and bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer on low. Using your mixing spoon, gentle press some of the rajma so that its mashed. This will help giving some thickness and smoothness to the gravy. Crush some dry Fenugreek leaves between your palms and then add to the Rajma masala and mix. Final touch, add cream and mix (skip to keep it vegan). Simmer for 10 mins. The Rajma gravy thickens as it sits so adjust consistency if required before serving.
That's it our delicious creamy Rajma Masala - Red Kidney Beans Curry is ready. Serve it hot with Rice and Salad on side.