This week we got a lot of snow and the wintry weather outside reminded me of the steaming hot plate of rajmah (kidney beans ) I once had in Jammu on our way to Srinagar (Kashmir). There was nothing fancy about it and it was cooked with the simplest of spices, served with steaming hot rice, raw onions and green chillies, but there was something serene and special about the whole experience. Eating on a roadside dhaba surrounded by the beautiful hills and finally drinking water from a small waterfall made by the melting snow on the top of the mountains. It is one of those memories that I will always treasure.
So I decided to make rajmah chawal (kidney beans with rice) and served the whole meal with a side of whole grain tortilla chips and melon.
2 cups of boiled or canned kidney beans
1 large onion (grated or very finely chopped
2 large tomatoes (crushed)
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
Whole spices (black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin seeds)
Ground spices (turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin-coriander powder)
1 tsp of garam masala or rajma masala
1/2 tbsp sugar
!/4 cup cubed paneer (optional)
a pinch of pepper powder
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnishing
Juice of 1 lemon
Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and the rest of the whole spices and let them splutter. Now add the onion and cook till the edges start becoming brown, add the ginger, garlic paste and stir till the raw smell goes away. Mix all the powdered spices with a little water and add to the onion. Now add the tomatoes and the tomato paste, salt and sugar and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add water if it gets too dry. Finally add the beans, paneer and about 1-2 cups of water, cover and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and a dollop of butter for making it extra special, garnish with cilantro. I like to top it with sour cream or tzatziki (thick yogurt dip, flavored with garlic, lemon, dill and pieces of cucumber)chopped salted pistachios and fried green chillies with salt and lemon juice.
I made a simple rice dish to go with the beans. I took a cup of rice and after washing it, soaked it in water for about 10 minutes. Then I took about a tsp of oil in a pan and added some spices like cumin, whole cloves and small cardamom. I had some peppers cut into small cubes which I added to the oil and then after removing the water from the rice mixed the rice in. Finally, added a cup of cooked carrots and peas in the rice and let it cook till done.