Rajma chawal is a very popular North Indian dish. The dish actually comprises of two items – the “chawal” or rice served with a Red Kidney Beans curry. I had eaten this dish at quite a few of my friends’ homes and in restaurants when I lived in Dehradun and Meerut. I’m sure every North Indian has a favorite Rajma Chawal recipe and while it is hard for me to replicate the authentic Rajma Chawal that I ate in North India, this recipe is fairly close to the original and it is certainly the one that my family likes.
- Kidney beans - 1 cup
- Cloves - 2
- Cinnamon stick - 1/2 " piece
- Cardamom (black and green) - 1 of each
- Peppercorns - a few
- Oil - 3 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Onions - 2, large, finely chopped
- Garlic - 5 cloves
- Ginger - 2" piece
- Green chillies - 5
- Tomatoes - 2, medium sized
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Red chilly powder - 1 tsp (more or less depending on your taste)
- Coriander powder - 1 tsp
- Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
- Dry mango powder (Amchur powder) - 1 tsp
- Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro - 3 tbsp, finely chopped
- Recipe for the 'Chawal'
- Basmati rice - 1 cup
- Bay leaves - 2
- Cloves - 5
- Cinnamon stick - 1 " piece
- Black cardamom - 1
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Oil/ghee - 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
Wash and soak kidney beans in water overnight.
Take a cheesecloth and add the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns) in it and tie it up into a small pouch by using a cooking twine. You can call this the Indian bouquet garni.
Cook the red kidney beans in water the next morning and while cooking, put in the 'bouquet garni' of spices into the pot along with the beans. I used my pressure cooker to cook the beans (just one whistle). It doesn't take long to pressure cook the beans mainly because they have been soaked in water overnight.
Puree the tomatoes in the blender and set aside.
Finely chop ginger, garlic and green chillies or use the food processor and mince them like I did.
Heat oil in a wide based pan. Season with cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds are fragrant, put in the finely chopped onions and fry till golden.
Add the minced ginger, garlic and green chillies. Fry till you can no longer smell the rawness of the ginger and garlic.
Pour in the pureed tomatoes and fry till oil separates from the side of the pan.
Add the turmeric, red chilly, coriander, cumin and amchur powders respectively and mix well.
Put in the cooked kidney beans (make sure you have removed the 'bouquet garni' before adding it to the 'masala') with its stock and salt to taste. Also add a cup of water to this mixture and bring it to a boil.
When almost done, put in the garam masala powder and finely chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with white rice, jeera rice or rotis.
- Canned kidney beans can also be used for this dish. I throw away the liquid that it comes with and I rinse the beans well under running water.
- Amchur or amchoor powder is dried green mango powder and this is available in any Indian store. This ingredient lends the dish a slightly tangy and a slightly fruity flavor. It is used as a substitute for tamarind in North India.
- The amount of water you can add to this dish is dependent on the consistency of the gravy that you want to achieve.
- I have had this dish served with plain white rice, but I decided to spice up the rice slightly.
For the ‘Chawal’:-
- Soak the Basmati rice for 30 mins.
- Heat oil in a pan. Put in bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom. When the spices are fragrant, put in the cumin seeds.
- Drain water from the rice and add the rice to the pan and fry with the spices and cumin seeds for a couple minutes.
- Put in the required amount of water and add salt to taste. Mix well and cook till done.
- I like to use a pan with a tight fitting lid to cook this rice, but it can also be cooked in a pressure cooker, its up to you and what you are used to.