I tried Rajma once about 3 years ago at a friend of Mangy’s. The chilli was over-powering, and it had more ghee than beans and was thick and mushy! It’s taken me 3 years to get over that awful meal.
Inspired by this article, I worked out a recipe that I thought does the beans justice. The flavour of the gravy is subtle allowing the kidney beans to shine through. Kidney beans are tough and they need delicate flavours. I think if you try to mask the flavour of something so robust, you’ll fail miserably. All you’d produce is a potful of powdered spices that do nothing but give you a belly ache!
1 ½ cups of dried kidney beans – soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well – beans will triple in size overnight
2 large tomatoes – smash with a fork or blend (or 1 cup of canned tomatoes)
3 green chillies
1 inch fresh ginger (leave the peel on)
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoons roasted red chilli powder
1 and ½ teaspoons coriander powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon roasted black pepper and cumin powder (see note below)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Butter
In a blender, finely blend onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Use water if required. Heat oil and half tablespoon butter in a pressure cooker, add bay leaves and onion mixture. Fry until water evaporates and onion turns dark. Add tomato puree, place lid (without whistle) and allow mixture to cook for about 5 minutes. Remove lid, mixture should be thick and glossy.
Remove bay leaves, add beans and stir well. Add powdered spices, stir well. Pour sufficient water to cover Rajma. Cook until beans are soft. Remove lid, and allow Rajma to simmer until it thickens to your liking. Add salt and garnish with plenty of fresh coriander. Drop in remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, stir well.
I dry roast equal amounts of black pepper and cumin and then powder it in a coffee mill. This mixture is stored in the pantry cupboard and added to most recipes that require cumin.