Red and tasty – that’s rajma for you

by Sanjeev Kapoor

I am often asked what is my favourite food and pat comes my answer rajma chawal. It is my comfort food which I look forward to devouring especially after a business trip which keeps me away from home-cooked food for long.

During my childhood days, I remember we waited for Sunday with bated breath for the menu for the day was fixed. What was it? Rajma chawal of course. My mother would soak plenty of rajma the previous night and the next morning she would pressure cook it till completely soft. It would then be simmer in a flavourful pyaaz-tamatar masala and served piping hot with steaming rice.

Rajma chawal is not just my favourite but is well loved all over Punjab and some parts of North India. There is something about the texture of rajma in gravy with the fluffy steamed rice that makes it so endearing. 

Its origins

Rajma or kidney beans and other beans such as pinto beans, navy beans and black beans are referred to as "common beans" probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru. From thence they spread throughout South and Central America through the migrating Indian traders who brought kidney beans with them from Peru. 

How healthy is rajma

Just like other beans, rajma is also a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. As a result of which rajma is especially good for the diabetics. When combined with whole grains such as rice, rajma provides virtually fat-free high quality protein too. 

The many dishes with rajma

Rajma-chawal cannot be made ready in a jiffy. Like I said earlier it has to be soaked overnight before it is ready to be cooked. So whenever the urge to eat this delicacy gets the better of you, remember to have patience. And what’s more you cannot even order it from the restaurant you frequent in your neighbourhood. For rajma-chawal is something that can be had cooked with love by one of the family member. 

It tastes best when it is kept simple. It is the love that is put into it in good measure that makes it so very delicious. I cook it with some onions, tomatoes, bay leaves, ginger-garlic, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and lots of fresh coriander leaves. 

Another favourite of mine is rajma parantha which even my daughters love to take in their dabba to their college. Alyona often packs it for our tiffin to be had in the office. Another dish that you will not be able to resist is rajma pulao! All you need are some well boiled rajma that you cook with Basmati and some onions, tomatoes and masalas.

Boiled rajma makes a handsome salad with blanched tender French beans and boiled moong and white cowpeas (chawli). All this mix needs is fresh coriander, fresh mint, green chillies, salt, dash of lemon and chaat masala. Talk about proteins, fibre and iron here!

The other day I made hummus with rajma instead of kabuli chana. The colour would be a little on the darker side but the change for the palate is welcome. Garnish with black olives and serve with crisp garlic bread! 

Recommended recipes-

Palak Rajma,  Rajma Galouti Kebabs,  Rajma Bread Patties,  Rajma Pav Bhaji,  Rajma Parantha,  Rajma With Coconut Milk,  Rajma Masala,  Rajma Falafal,  Nachos With Rajma,  Leftover Rajma Tikki

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.