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Author Notes: Rajma is a very traditional and popular dish in the northern part of India. Red kidney beans are simmered in a curry with spices. The end result bears such an uncanny resemblance to American/Mexican chili that I had to do a double-take when I first tasted chili in the USA. It could be because in my brain I tend to equate cumin with Indian. Or it could be because there is really a connection somewhere, hundreds of years ago...
There are many different recipes for rajma. This is the minimalist Indian version. I tend to sometimes streamline this recipe even further. There are days when I don't add bay leaf or skip the onion. What I would not skip is the tomato, ginger and cumin though. They form the backbone of the dish. And the cinnamon adds a nice sophisticated dimension to the earthy flavour of the beans. The onion takes the edge out of the ginger and rounds out the dish. But I like it without as well. So play around and even add meat if you like. —The Minimalist Indian
- 1 cup red kidney beans
- 1 small onion sliced
- 1 small piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 can diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1 teaspoon oil
- salt to taste
- cayenne or Indian red chilli powder to taste
- Soak the beans in plenty of water for about 8 hours. Drain and rinse.
- In a large pot or pressure-cooker, heat oil. Add cinnamon and bayleaf. When you smell their fragrance, add the onion.
- Saute for a minute and then add the tomatoes.
- Add the spice powders and mix well. Saute until the moisture has evaporated and the mixture looks brownish and shiny with oil.
- Add the ginger, briskly stir for a few seconds.
- Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil, season with salt to taste. Simmer or pressure-cook until the beans are soft (15-20 minutes in a pressure cooker, at least 45 minutes in a pot). When you press one between your thumb and fore-finger it should break up easily.
- Serve with a grain of your choice. Meat-lovers, you can easily use this dish to take care of that left-over roast meat. Just cut into chunks and add when the beans are already cooked. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes.