one for the bowl
With the weather being what it is in Atlanta, and our (understandable) preoccupation with the big game this weekend, I wanted to share a tried and true make-ahead recipe for whatever festivities you may be engaging in over the weekend.
Red-beans or red kidney beans or rajma are a staple pantry ingredient for most of India. All except our kitchen. It was never my mom's favorite because well, it was not easy on the stomach. But, it was a dish I could never pass up if I was at a friends' place. Everyone makes red-beans a little differently, but the marriage of complex spices in this recipe makes an unforgettable dish. This very 'northern-Indian' dish is also a reliable crowd-pleaser and can be made ahead of time. Win-Win!
The best Rajma I ever ate was as a student in Illinois. Restaurants were typically expensive for a student wallet like mine. I found our Indian eateries overpriced and greasy, for most part that trend has not changed. But this little shop opened outside ECE - the Electrical Engineering building off of Spring Street that seemed to be all the rage. It was run by a Kashmiri woman, who served Indian food, by the pound, a concept I was not familiar with until then. She cooked during the day and mingled with the students when they came to eat. It was wonderful. It was like visiting a favorite aunt’s home.
There was something wonderfully earthy and warm about the dish and I've looked for those flavors for long. This is the closest I came to recreating a wonderful Kashmiri Styled Vegetarian Chili, better known as Gozi Rajma.
Makes: Twelve servings; 175 calories ea.
Diet: Vegan adaptable, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus overnight soaking
Cook Time, Ease: 30 minutes or more, Moderately easy
Hostess Note: May be prepared up to 3 days in advance.
Gozi Rajma or Kashmiri Styled Vegetarian Chili
3 tbsp oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
½ cup chopped daikon radish tuber
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2" cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods
1 Indian bay leaf
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 cup finely chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red kidney beans, see pre-prep note
1-1½ cups water
Pinch of kasuri methi
1 tsp sugar
Salt, to taste
¼ cup fresh cream to garnish
Pav Bread or Bhatura
Soak the red kidney beans in a large stockpot of cold water for 8 or more hours until tender. Replace the water with fresh water and set the beans to boil. Periodically remove the scum off the beans, and cook until the beans have softened completely. Drain and set aside.
In a deep, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the oil. As the oil heats up, add the onions and daikon radish, and let them sweat. Stir until the onions are soft and translucent, and almost golden brown. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste, and stir in; cook for about ½ minute. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaf, and stir in. Allow to sizzle for 1 minute. Stir in the powdered spices quickly: turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper. Add the tomatoes and stir well until evenly combined with the spices. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the water begins to evaporate.
Carefully add the drained and precooked red kidney beans, and stir gently to ensure that the beans do not break apart. Add 1 cup of water, cover, and cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans do not stick to the pan.
As the sauce begins to reduce, add the kasuri methi powder, and season with sugar and salt. Cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Check to see if the beans have taken on the flavors; if the flavors have not seeped in, add ½ cup of water and simmer for another 10 minutes on low. Add a dash of cream just before serving.
Serve hot with Pav Bread or Bhatura.
This recipe was first published in 'A Dozen Ways to Celebrate' (2014)