Rajma Chawal (plus a rework on an old recipe)

Inspired by my good friend over at Shizuoka Gourmet, I thought I’d try something my stir-fry sauce. I realized, though, after thinking about it, that it’s more Chinese than Japanese. Damn it! Well, I’m moving closer.

Anyway, maybe next time. Today’s story involves the fact that I have no food left. My fridge is empty, save a bag of shredded carrots, a mushy tomato and a single yogurt cup. Not really a great meal combo. So, I went to the freezer: mostly frozen veggie meats and a bag of chopped onions. So, I went to the pantry….and that’s when I saw them (and no I don’t mean the fruit flies that seem to have accumulated all over my apartment and genetically mutated so that they can now avoid the fly paper AND the vinegar trap). Cans! Beeeeeeeeeeeeans. I love beans.

UNFORTUNATELY, the only beans left were kidney beans, which, in my mind, are the “if you must” beans (the pintos are the “never” beans, but I seem to have ended up with a can of those too). So, the little itty bitty neuron men in my head began typing and searching files and just generally making a ruckus trying to find the answer to this question: “WHAT DO WE DO WITH KIDNEY BEANS!!!!!?” Baked beans? Nah. Hey, look, tomato puree! We can make Indian stuff!

And that is how I ended up with Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry). The Chawal (rice) in the title is a bit extraneous, but this dish is ALWAYS served with rice, and just doesn’t do well with a flatbread like naan or roti (or even puri (the deep fried ones), which I suppose is a good thing). As a warning, this really tastes nothing like the rajma you’ve probably tried before as I played it by ear a little when making it and didn’t have any help from my mom this time.

Delicious in its own way! Man, those little guys up there really outdid themselves this time!

Hmmmmm....Rajma and--acorn squash? Why not!

Hmmmmm....Rajma and--acorn squash? Why not!

Rajma (and Chawal, if you wish)

  • 1/2t. olive oil
  • Chopped onions (I cheated and used the frozen bagged stuff…about 1/3 of a small  bag. I believe it would be the equivalent of 3/4 chopped medium white onion
  • 1.5t-2t minced garlic (comes in a jar or you can cheat and use powder at the end). Remember though, I like it garlicky!
  • 1.5t ginger paste (fresh grated ginger is fine, but I don’t know how much the conversion is)
  • 1t-2t (depending on how much flavor you want) of the following spices: turmeric,  garam masala (curry powder), dry cumin, and dry coriander. I used 2t of the garam masala, 1.5t of the cumin/coriander and a little less than 1t of the turmeric.
  • 1 14-16oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed. (I got the organic ones because the other ones actually have sugar in them! Can you believe that?)
  • Tomato puree (1/2-3/4 of the smaller can (same size as the 14-16oz kidneys))

→This is easy. Just heat the oil in the pan and saute the onions with the ginger and garlic until onion is browning and soft.
Add all the spices plus about 1/2t-1t of salt if you feel it’s necessary. Don’t forget to keep it moving so it doesn’t burn!
Quickly turn the heat down to medium, adding the tomato puree. Keep stirring.
Once that starts to bubble just a little, turn the heat down to med-low and simmer that for a little bit. Stir all the spices and onions and tomato-y goodness into one.
After about 1 minute or 2 minutes or even three if you’re not that tired, dump the drained kidney beans in. Stir to combine.
Cover and simmer until the curry becomes the consistency you like (the longer you simmer, the thicker the final product will be.

I’m obsessed with lemon so I threw some of that in at the end too. This really isn’t necessary (or advisable in this dish) but, hey! I’m the one who’s going to eat it!

Another thing you can add (a favorite of kids in Punjab) is a squirt of ketchup (I used sugar-free). This can go in at any time, but I would recommend doing it when you begin to eat so, if you don’t like it, the entire batch doesn’t go to waste.


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