Rajma-Chawal, I have heard this name so many times as a dish everybody loves. But this isn’t something I could find in a restaurant in West Bengal, India. I didn’t even know what Rajma actually was until I tried it for the first time in Hyderabad while living in a paying guest facility. Rajma is basically beans made in tomato-onion-garlic base gravy with Indian spice. It’s a staple food in the state of Punjab. From there it has travelled to the other north Indian states and gained popularity.
My south Indian colleague who spent majority of his life in Delhi, used to bring Rajma for lunch sometimes. That was definitely the first time I liked the dish. Considering my over all experience of living in hostels and paying guest facilities I refrained from judging a new food just after having it there. After having home-made Rajma for so many times (thanks to my colleague) I understood all the hype around the dish.
Back in 2020 when the lockdown started in all over the country I moved in with my parents again. During this time, I insisted mom to try making it at home – even though she had never tried it herself before, I was pretty confident on her 30+ year’s cooking experience.
After trying few tweaks in the proportions of spices, we all were happy with how the rajma turned out- hence documenting the recipe for reference. There seems to be some other variations of the rajma beans as well (according to the recipes we watched on YouTube) but we could find only one type of rajma here. The different beans take different duration to get cooked, so you might need to keep an eye on the beans to prevent them from overcooking.
In Hyderabad I also came across pre-boiled Rajma that will save the over night soaking and then boiling rituals- couldn’t find them in my hometown.
I am so glad that both my parents liked the dish and they look forward to have it in the future as well. It’s truly a win-win situation. I hope you too can give this dish a try!
Things you need
- Rajma 250 g
- Tomatoes 4 pcs
- Onions 4 pcs
- Garlic 5-6 cloves
- Ginger 1/4″
- Kasuri Methi 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds 1 tbsp
- Bay leaf 1 pc
- 4 Cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 4 pepper corns
- 2 Cinnamon 1″ sticks
- Rajma Masala (Ready made spice mix)
- Wash the Rajma/beans thoroughly and soak them overnight.
- In a pressure cooker pour water with a pinch of salt and baking powder. Cook the Rajma beans in the pressure cooker for 4-5 cities.
- Strain the water and keep the Rajma beans aside
- Chop the onions, garlic, Ginger and tomatoes.
- Toast the kasuri Methi on a pan and set it aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and temper with the whole spices- cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf for 30 secs. Then add in the onions and garlic pieces. While onions are almost fried add the tomatoes, cloves, pepper corns and salt. Fry until the moisture dries up. Set it aside for cooling.
- Once cooled down, blend it into a smooth paste. Add kasuri Methi in. You will need to add water little by little. This will be our gravy base, it shouldn’t be too runny or too thick.
- Use a fine sieve to get rid of tiny bits of spice and lumps that are there.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and pour them gravy base in. Add the Rajma beans and mix them well in the gravy.
- After the moisture almost dries up add 2 tbsp ghee and 2 cups of warm water and cook for 4-5 mins.
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of ready made Rajma Masala over the curry and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Rajma is ready to be served. Rajma – chawal (rice) is the iconic duo in Indian cuisine, hence I would highly recommend you to try it with rice too.
On a personal note, this is mildly spicy and very filling dish. 250 g of Rajma was way too much for 3 people in our people. You might need to scale down this portion to make it just for yourself or 2 people!
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