Kiran's Cooking Club

Everyday Indian Food

Raj-ma: The King of Beans and the Mother of all things yum – Kidney Beans

Easy Indian Food

So the word ‘Raj’ translates as King and ‘Ma’ as Mother. But, Rajma somehow translates to the rather more humble Kidney Bean.

However, there is something of the ‘Mother of all Beans’ in this north Indian signature dish. It’s a staple, but definately one that’s drooled over when it’s served up. It has the X factor.

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Rajma reminds me of Kashmir where kidney beans are grown and traded.

When I was lucky enough to find a lull in the troubles of this region about 8 years ago I visited Dal Lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Jammu & Kashmir.

What can I tell you of Dal Lake and Srinagar?

Easy Everyday Indian Food: Rajma

Boats on Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

It was heaven on earth.

Easy Everyday Indian Food: Rajma

Flower Seller on Dal Lake, Srinagar

It was rich in colour, culture, music, crafts, art, dried fruit, flowers, saffron, houseboats and just plain gorgeous.

The people were bewitchingly beautiful, with their green-grey eyes, dark hair and fair skin. In another world they would have been signed up by modelling agencies selling mundane objects like toothpaste or shampoo.

Easy Indian Food

Kashmiri’s certainly don’t strut around like they know they are the peacocks of this world. They just get one with their every day lives trying to make a living in a dramatically stunning place with the usual theatre of life; it just so happened to be in a divided  – heavily armed – state as the backdrop.

It was deeply sad to see what the troubles there had done to people desperate to have their lives and livelihoods restored with a return to tourism and trade.

Easy Indian Food: Rajma

Boat on Dal Lake, Srinagar

The one thing, (apart from Kashmir shawls, walnuts, dates etc.,) that everyone asked me to come back with was hessian sack loads of Kidney Beans for them.

Saffron is easier to carry.

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Saffron trading on a houseboat in Srinagar

If I had the chance, I would go there again in a heartbeat. In the winter this time – to see the snow capped mountains that enveloped the Lake.

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So Raj-Ma.

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My love.

Here’s how I cook Rajma in my Punjabi kitchen in the UK, thinking of Kashmir:

This is very similar to my Channa Massala recipe. So, often I will cook a bulk load of the onion-ginger paste, keep in the fridge and use when I need it.

First a quick completely unrelated aside –

My Garam Massala Recipe is the FOODISTA Recipe Blog of the day!

How very exciting!!

Easy Indian Food

You need this:

1 cup dried kidney beans

1 medium onion

1/2 – 1 inch piece of fresh ginger

4-5 tbs oil (veg, olive or ghee – whatever you have)

1 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp chilli powder (to taste)

1/4 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

1 tsp dunia powder (coriander powder)

1 tsp paprika powder

1 fresh tomato – blended

Optional Extras: (often I use the below for special occasions – while the above simple ingredients will do for every day Rajma!)

*  Pinch of Hing (asafoetida powder) – this is great for digestion as Kidney Beans can be difficult for some people!
*  1/2 tsp Garam Massala
*  1 tsp Amchoor powder (dried mango powder)

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Just like the Chickpeas, Kidney Beans need to be soaked to help them cook.

NB: This is really important for kidney beans, because if they are eaten even a little bit hard, they can give you tummy pain!

1. Sift and wash Kidney Beans: make sure there are none with holes, or that there any stones in the mix. Wash thoroughly.

2. Soak in 5- 6 cups of cold water, overnight if you can. They will swell to double in size. You need to soak them for at least 4-5 hours. If you add them to boiled water you can get soaking time down to 3-4 hours. Soak them in the pan you will be cooking in.

3. Keep the water the beans have been soaked in. The water always needs to be 1 inch above the swollen kidney beans throughout the cooking process. If you need to top up, do so now with hot water, and keep it topped up throughout the cooking process. Cook for around 30 -40 minutes until the kidney beans are tender and soft.

Do this on a medium heat, in a pan with a lid.

4. While the kidney beans are cooking you can get on with the massala.

Blend onion and fresh ginger to a paste in an electric mixer. If you do not have one you can chop very finely, or go all traditional and blend in a pestle and mortar.

5. Heat oil in a pan or wok.

6. Add the onion ginger paste. For this small amount of paste, cook for around 10 minutes on a slow – medium heat, with the lid on the pan.

The steam generated will ‘slow cook’ the onions.

The onions need to turn a golden colour brown.

You know when the paste is cooked when the oil is released or ‘separated’ from the onion mix. (There will be a tiny edge of oil around the paste).

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7. Add all of the spices and salt apart from the amchoor, and ½ the quantity of the garam masala. Allow to cook on a medium heat without the lid on the pan for a few minutes. Add a little water if it sticks to the pan.

8. Add the blended tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes.

9. Once the kidney beans  have cooked, drain them, keeping the cooking water to one side. Add the tender chickpeas to the massala. Adding a little of the cooking water at a time – depending on how runny or soupy you want the final mix. I usually add all of the water. Rajma is classically eaten with rice which soaks up the juices. Allow the rajma to cook for at least 5 minutes to let the water thicken with the paste.

10. After 5 minutes, add the amchoor powder and home made garam massala (if you have it) and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

11. Garnish with chopped chilli, chopped tomatoes or fresh coriander if you have it.

12. Serve with Steam Cooked Basmati Rice, flavoured with Cumin Seeds. Recipe to follow soon!

Enjoy!

Easy Indian Food

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87 comments on “Raj-ma: The King of Beans and the Mother of all things yum – Kidney Beans

  1. misseychelles
    October 24, 2012

    wow…beautiful pics!! 🙂

    • Kiran
      October 24, 2012

      Thank you so much – I had lots of fun with these 🙂

      • misseychelles
        October 25, 2012

        oh i think so!!! 🙂 My favorite pic is the first one, the colors are great!!

  2. Delicious Pot
    October 24, 2012

    Lovely pics 🙂 your recipe is different, will surely try !!

    • Kiran
      October 24, 2012

      Thank you! Yeah, I think every household will have a different version. Hope you enjoy it – would love to know what you think!

  3. Leah
    October 24, 2012

    Sounds delicious!

  4. rosalindentree
    October 24, 2012

    mm that surely whets ones appetite!
    a seriously nourishing and warming dish, thankyou for inspiring the beans to move beyond a south american style taco sauce…
    with good health and culinary companionship
    roselinde

    • Kiran
      October 24, 2012

      That’s so nice, thank you for reaching out with such a nice message. Glad you enjoyed the post! your site is lovely btw!

  5. Archana
    October 24, 2012

    i too love rajma masala! it’s one of those dishes that goes well with anything – rotis, naan, rice etc….it looks really delicious here!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Definately! Delicious with just simple roti too, i agree. Thank you for the comment 🙂

  6. petit4chocolatier
    October 25, 2012

    Beautiful post! Your blog is so genuinely wonderful with words and food. Very refreshing! Delicious recipe!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you so much as always! 🙂

  7. musingmar
    October 25, 2012

    Congratulations on the Foodista featured post! I checked it out, and loved it! These kidney beans sound so good too. I really appreciate everything I’m learning from you!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you! Really glad you liked it 🙂

  8. Skuggs
    October 25, 2012

    Congrats on the Foodista feature!!!! Your recipes always look and sound amazing. I’m determined to knuckle down and try some more when I get back from holidays.

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you so much – really nice of you to comment as always. Would love to know how it goes if you give the Rajma a go. Enjoy your holidays!

  9. croftgarden
    October 25, 2012

    Srinagar, always been on my wish list!
    However I’ve been wondering what to do with the packet of beans that have been sitting in my cupboard for too long – so thank you for the inspiration

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Ah – but you have the heavenly lochs for inspiration 🙂 Hope you like the beans – would love to know how it goes!

  10. Opalla
    October 25, 2012

    Your post is so colourful! I’try your recipe.

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you 🙂 Do let me know if you enjoy it!

  11. Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere
    October 25, 2012

    I love kidney beans and this sounds like a great way to prepare them. I’ll have to give it a try.

  12. scroungelady
    October 25, 2012

    Beautiful post and delicious recipe. We love our beans here too and would serve it with cornbread.

  13. mredible
    October 25, 2012

    Just lovely.

  14. Archana
    October 25, 2012

    wow!….congrats on being ‘Freshly Pressed’!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Goodness! I am! I had no idea i would be… Gosh. Thank you Archana for letting me know! What a week. Gosh 🙂

      • Archana
        October 25, 2012

        haha….now enjoy the day full of views, likes and comments! 🙂

  15. catharsishungry07
    October 25, 2012

    Mouth-Watering pictures!
    And being a North Indian, rajma curry and rice is my all time favourite delicacy!! 😀

  16. urbantraveltales
    October 25, 2012

    How colourful and …tasty! I can almost sense the odour through your photos…

  17. eireplusalba
    October 25, 2012

    I just love Indian food and beans especially. So your post is very inspirational. Will definitely try it. Cheers!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you! Would love to know how it goes – Cheers!

  18. Washington, DC
    October 25, 2012

    Its not very often you can get a little bit of everything in one blog. History. Life lessons. Art appreciation. And FOOD! Thank you for sharing all especially the recipe! Yummo!

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      That’s so kind! Thank you. (Am blushing)

  19. mrszeg
    October 25, 2012

    Beautifully written…I feel like I traveled with you and look forward to trying this dish.

  20. Pingback: Raj-ma: The King of Beans and the Mother of all things yum – Kidney Beans | birdmanps

  21. lauracookphotography
    October 25, 2012

    Glad you have been ‘Freshly Pressed’ – what an excellent blog.

    • Kiran
      October 25, 2012

      Thank you! That’s really nice of you to say. Genuinely looking forward to exploring your amazing blog and site soon.

  22. relaxingcooking
    October 25, 2012

    beautiful pictures and delicious recipe!

  23. bottledworder
    October 26, 2012

    Loved the pictures. I love Rajma and you conveyed the essence of Rajma so well!

  24. Kiran
    October 26, 2012

    Thank you – glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  25. deepa
    October 26, 2012

    Gorgeous pics! Rajma is a great homely dish! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  26. segmation
    October 26, 2012

    Looks so yummy! I can’t wait to read the recipe and try it out!

  27. naddy
    October 26, 2012

    Loved ur post 🙂

  28. helenamallett
    October 26, 2012

    Great blog! Thanks for the pics and recipe …

  29. karmenpirh
    October 26, 2012

    Love beans! Love recipe! 🙂

  30. kasturika
    October 26, 2012

    The title and the photo attracted me to this page… I’ll admit, I hate cooking… But I sure love to eat 🙂 I enjoyed reading this post… It felt refreshingly Indian 😀 I wish I could go to Kashmir too… Lovely photographs! And congratulations on being freshly pressed 🙂

    • Kiran
      October 26, 2012

      Really nice to read your comments – Thank you!

  31. IndiaTechies
    October 26, 2012

    Hey Nice pics and recipes. Keep it up.. 🙂

  32. flyingbubbles
    October 26, 2012

    Beautiful pics…

  33. nirupamaprv
    October 26, 2012

    Lovely. It’s so important to make dishes appealing to the eye and the tummy. And yours definitely does both. I love Rajma but this post makes me want to cook it already in the kitchen. 🙂
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed as well.

  34. Kiran
    October 26, 2012

    🙂 thank you! really appreciated!

  35. itchy
    October 26, 2012

    So beautifully told with such amazing pictures. i am indian but i never thought of Raj-Ma that way. Loved the title. Congrats on FP

    • Kiran
      October 26, 2012

      Thank you so much. Really appreciate the comments – am flattered 🙂

  36. sportsandthecross
    October 26, 2012

    Great post!! The images are pretty awesome as well, congrats on being Freshly Pressed, keep it up!

  37. G
    October 26, 2012

    My visit to Kashmir during a film shoot and the RAJMA treatment there by a friend are so refreshing still. Good share 🙂

  38. bublibeauty
    October 26, 2012

    Thank god I found your blog . So much to learn and excellent recipes .My mom also enjoyed reading it . Personally Me & my dad love rajma & my mom hardly know what to do with it 😆 . I’ll try this recipe

    • Kiran
      October 26, 2012

      Hehe – you made me laugh. So glad to help you and your Dad out! Would love to know how you get on! Thanks for the lovely comments 🙂

  39. ripe red berries
    October 26, 2012

    lovely post – I too LOVE kidney beans – I have to try this!

  40. glutenputin
    October 26, 2012

    I make Kidney Beans all the time and I can’t wait to try this!

  41. screenshot
    October 26, 2012

    Reblogged this on Ready For Anything Preparedness Store and commented:
    Kidney beans are a staple in my own dried foods pantry. They keep literally forever packed in large clean glass jars with a tight fitting lid. They are delicious and packed with nutrition. They can also be prepared in about 1001 ways. Here’s one!

  42. mataicooking
    October 26, 2012

    Great Kitchen colors, must be delicious. . .

  43. Cam
    October 26, 2012

    Wow, talk about life in technicolor. Makes me want to visit Kashmir but I’ll have to settle for some yummy rajma 🙂 Lovely storytelling as always & congrats on the awards!

  44. prettyeasylife
    October 26, 2012

    Such a beautiful post! And the last pic just blew me away. The rice and beans combination is so much part of my life and you wrote a poem with them. Thanks!

    • Kiran
      October 27, 2012

      Thank you so much! Really glad you like it!

  45. prettyeasylife
    October 26, 2012

    Oh, and thanks for liking my post!

  46. After the sunset
    October 27, 2012

    loved loved the pictures.. awsome.. i am a big time foodie.. and a lover of rajma. i wrote this recipe few weeks back. but the way u have written is just superlative. have a look at this…
    http://drpuneetaggarwal.blogspot.in/2012/09/rajmamasala-maa-style-being-vegetarian.html

    • Kiran
      October 27, 2012

      Wonderful! Thank you for sharing and for the lovely comments!

  47. mirrormon
    October 27, 2012

    nice… and ur photgraphs r soo amazing

  48. Skuggs
    October 27, 2012

    Wow and freshly pressed too!!! Congrats! 🙂

  49. daisyandthefox
    October 27, 2012

    wonderful photos!! and the recipe looks like a must try! 🙂

  50. Francina
    October 28, 2012

    lovely photos and the recipe looks so good that I will give it a try

  51. westendmaw
    October 28, 2012

    Beautiful pictures and writing as always, would this work with tinned kidney beans do you think? I always have them in the cupboard… Perhaps I just need to start planning more and using dried pulses…

  52. lemoncake
    October 28, 2012

    Thanks for visiting my blog! It’s very new, so would love any comments or tips of how I could improve it.

    I love your blog – I hit ‘follow’ straight away. Will definitely be trying some of your recipes.

    • Kiran
      October 28, 2012

      That’s so kind – I started mine not that long ago either. Thank you for the compliments 🙂 Your blog is lovely!!

  53. khannablog
    October 30, 2012

    I will definetely try your receipe, thanks for this and liking my blog! 🙂

  54. asoutherngirlsguideto
    October 30, 2012

    Thanks for liking my post. Your pictures here are spectacular! It makes the post so alive, love it!!

  55. Katie Glenn
    October 31, 2012

    Kidney beans are one of my favorites!

  56. Nathalie
    November 1, 2012

    Love this! And chana masala, so I’m bookmarking this one for sure!

  57. A feast for the body, and a beautiful visual feast for the mind! Who could ask for more?!

  58. My French Heaven
    November 8, 2012

    I am so glad I found your blog through your liking of one of my posts! Your pictures are incredible. Oh the colors! This makes me so damn hungry. I heard that the color orange was known to make you hungry… Please continue sharing! I love Indian food!!

    • Kiran
      November 8, 2012

      Thats’ really kind! Thank you for the lovely comments 🙂

  59. Brown Eyed Rose
    November 8, 2012

    This is my favorite dish EVER, so glad to see someone else sharing a recipe! I make it every week and never get tired of it. I cook the beans in a pressure cooker to speed things up. Thanks for sharing!

  60. createengwp
    November 8, 2012

    Thanks for liking the red bean paste pancake recipe post! Your amazing photos make me want to open the can of kidney beans stored in my cabinet.

  61. ohlidia
    November 14, 2012

    Gorgeous pics! Makes me want to go… And the recipe looks yummy!

  62. wordpressreport
    November 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on WordPress Report and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  63. theplumpalate
    November 19, 2012

    Well done! Congratulations on being featured on Foodista. I can see why. This dal sounds wonderful.

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2012 by in Beans, food, Photography, Rajma, Recipes, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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