Punjabi Rajma Chawal – Red Kidney Bean Curry

Kitchen in a Punjabi Dhaba – http://alexbecherer.tumblr.com

A simple bean curry and very much a staple in India homes and especially the legendary roadside Punjabi Dhabas.  This red kidney bean curry has a fantastic full flavour and is easy and cheap to get  together (it’s also a super healthy bite).

Punjabi food is renowned as one of India’s finest.  Punjab is a state located in the North West of India, bordering Pakistan and is home to many Sikhs.  The Golden Temple in Amritsar is rightly regarded as one of the most awesome religious monuments.  The Punjab is a very arable region, meaning a great diversity of produce.

Punjabi dhabas are famous for their cheap, fresh and super tasty food.  They are basically an eatery, that have spread around India and the world.  Wherever there are Punjabis, there are Dhabas!  In a Punjabi Dhaba the food is always quick and plentiful with a constant stream of fresh chapatis and top ups of all curries, relishes and rice dishes.  Its a great way to eat, a real food experience and you always leave with a full belly.

These Dhabas started to feed truck drivers originally and the range of dishes are quite standard from Chandigarh to Chiswick.  Dal Makhani is one of my favourites; a dark, rich lentil stew that is normally finished with lashings of ghee.  It will be here on the BHK soon (I can’t believe its taken this long!)

The Golden Temple at sunset

The Golden Temple at sunset

For years I was disillusioned with kidney beans; I didn’t like the name or the way they were served (normally in an insipid tomato stew, aka the eponymous chilli con carne).  I was ten years old at that time and have come a long way since.  This is one of the finest way to serve a kidney bean, the rich and spicy tomato sauce compliment the earthy bean well.

In India it can be difficult to get beans, but the rajma (kidney bean in Hindi) is easily found and consistently tasty with mounds of chawal (rice).  I cannot go long without a bean hit after all.

This is something that I have been whipping up after work recently and although the list on ingredients looks a little wordy, its actually a stroll once you get into the groove.  Instead of all the spices, use something like a Garam Masala mix or even a good quality curry powder.

We normally stir some yoghurt in just before serving to give that extra touch of richness.  The finer you chop or grate your vegetables the greater release of flavour.  Grating garlic, ginger, onions and even tomatoes is a great way of making an intense fresh sauce, much, much better than anything you can buy in a tin.

The Bits

3 tbs cooking oil (unrefined)

1 onion (grated/ finely chopped)

4 cloves garlic

2 inch cube of ginger (both grated/ crushed)

4 tomatoes (chopped finely/ grated)

1 teas fennel seeds

1 teas cumin powder

1/2 teas turmeric

1 teas coriander powder

1/4 – 1/2 teas chilli powder

sea salt (to taste)

For the beans

2 cups dried red kidney beans (tins can be used, but not as good)

4 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon (or 1 teas cinnamon powder)

1 bay leaf

Topping

1 handful torn coriander leaves

1 tbsp soya yoghurt (stirred in – optional)

Gorgeous spicy tomato sauce get down reducing

Gorgeous spicy tomato sauce get down reducing

Do It

Beans – Soak your beans for 12 hours in cold water.  Rinse well and cover with 2 inches of water and bring to the boil, add your spices and allow to boil, then lower heat and pop a lid on.  Leave to simmer for 1 hour, until they are nice and tender.  If the beans are falling apart slightly, no problem, this will help to thicken the sauce.  You can of course use tinned beans if you’re in a hurry.

Sauce – In a frying pan, add your oil and on a medium heat cook your onions until golden, then add your ginger, fennel seeds and garlic, give it another three minutes, now its time for your tomatoes and spices, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cover and cook until tomatoes are nicely softened, 6-8 minutes is fine.

Get your beans into the mix (we used our flash new slotted spoon here.  Hoorah!) add all the beans and 250ml of the cooking stock (more can be added if sauce is a little thick).  Heat through, a gentle bubble, for 10 minutes more and you’re ready to get Dhaba’d!

Punjabi Rajma Chawal

Punjabi Rajma Chawal

Serve

Stir in your yoghurt and pour over fluffy rice and a chapatti (if you are very lucky and have time, make your own!).  Coriander leaves scatter very well here.

We Love It!

Simple and full of the spices and aromas that make India cooking so tantalising and satisfying.  Heres to all those Dhabas out there!  Dishing up brilliant food for pennies and keeping the truck drivers of India rotund and smiling.  Much better than a Little Chef I can tell you!

Foodie Fact

Red kidney beans and beans in general are full of fibre (in fact they are the best source of fibre) that benefits not only the digestive system but also lowers cholesterol.  These beans are a virtually fat free source of protein,

We get alot of our foodie fact information from the comprehensive site W H Foods.  Whats in a  kumquat?  W H know these things.

Tunes

The thing I love about cooking all this Indian food in the Beach House Kitchen is the opportunity to share my favourite Indian artists.  Here’s the master Ali Akbar Khan and another mesmeric raja:

Categories: Curries, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Punjabi Rajma Chawal – Red Kidney Bean Curry

  1. Nice picture of Golden Temple! Was there last year. It’s a beautiful site. And love Rajma Rice.

    • It is an incredible place, I spent the night there, sleeping on a plank with about 10 other folk. Happy memories indeed. All that chaos and bliss intertwined is a sight to behold. Im sure you enjoyed a Dhaba or two yourself over there in Amritsar. Namaste and Happiness, lee

  2. This sounds mag! Will have to try soon… Yum!😉

  3. I love this recipe! Thank you! I haven’t made kidney bean curry before , I seem to associate kidney beans with mexican spices , but now I have your recipe will try it indian style! xxx

    • Mexican food is brilliant too, but this Rajma recipe is the special one. Really easy and super tasty. Hope it brings smiles. Happy Curry Nightx

  4. hello there🙂
    it’s been long time since my last visit to your BHK.. hope all is well with you both.
    your rajma chawal looks yummy… but did you omit garam masala on purpose?

    warm regards, Retno.

    • Great to have you back in the BHK! I don’t think you need the garam masala, Im trying to simplify my cooking at the moment. It can be used by itself, or add a mix of spices. I am appreciating the subtlety of spice more, before I just like lots of spice in everything! Happy days, lee and janex

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