When I first planned to visit VaishnoDevi in November 2000, some colleagues said to me, "वहाँ पर राजमा चावल और छोले पूरी ज़रूर खाके आना।" (You must eat Rajma Rice and Chhole Puri there.) When I did eventually go a month later, I decided that I would try these two things. When we got there, I figured that these were the ONLY dishes available, on the way and at the venue. If I had to eat, I had to eat one of these. I am told that things have changed a great deal in the last decade.
Anyway, that was probably the first time I tasted rajma chawal outside my office cafeteria. I liked it quite a bit. There's also something about being tired and hungry during the climb in the cold that makes food taste extra special. I didn't try making it at home because our cafeteria made it at least 3 times a week. In fact there's this other story that's linked to Rajma.
One Sunday afternoon, I was rather sick of all the dal makhani, chhole, paneer and rajma. I didn't feel like making an elaborate lunch. (I didn't own a fridge then and stashing away leftovers in the August heat in Gurgaon isn't exactly a cakewalk.) I made myself some Tomato Rice. Just as I sat down to eat my lunch, my landlady's 7 year old rang my doorbell. He said, "मम्मी ने कहा की आप अकेले खाने के बजाय हमारे साथ खा लें।" (Mummy says that instead of eating alone, you should come have lunch with us.) I told him to thank her but also tell her that I'd already made my lunch. He was back in 2 minutes saying, "मम्मी ने कहा की आप अपना खाना लेकर नीचे आ जाएँ। हम साथ बैठकर खायेंगे। (Mummy says that you bring whatever you have cooked and we shall all eat together. Now, there was little I could do. I took my pressure pan downstairs and we got ready to eat. My landlady had made a special Sunday lunch: Rajma Rice. My tomato rice was polished off in no time by the four of them and we can all eat I was served more rajma rice. So much for wanting to not eat something.
1 1/2 cups Kidney Beans (Chitra Rajma), soaked overnight
2 Onions, ground to a paste
1/4 cup Tomato Puree
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
Coriander Leaves for garnish
Pressure cook the kidney beans with 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste in 3 cups of water. Drain the beans and retain the water.
In a pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the onion paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and fry for a minute. Add the tomato puree and fry until the oil leaves the mixture. Add the cooked beans and the garam masala. Add the reserved water and boil the entire mixture. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve this with plain rice or Jeera Rice. I was serving it with rotis and so made it rather thick. When serving with rice, make sure that it has a pouring consistency.
I made rajma several times before and found that the beans didn't cook. I soaked the beans over night and then pressure cooked them for 20 whistles once. Rock hard! My colleague, P, told me to buy Chitra Rajma and ever since, the rajma I make is creamy. Thanks P.