Piping hot red kidney beans in a thick tomato gravy topped with fried onions. Ladled on rice, it makes for traditional North Indian comfort food called Rajma Chawal.
Rajma Chawal is home-cooked comfort food that really comforts!
A plateful of white, fluffy rice with curried kidney beans is delicious and filling. Kidney beans have a nutty-buttery taste which is enhanced by the sauce you cook them in. I cook kidney beans in a tomato-rich gravy as I feel tomatoes complement beans perfectly.
But that comes later. With beans, the big question is always ‘to soak or not to soak?’
Here’s the lowdown on this.
Most people soak beans (and nuts and seeds too) to improve their digestibility and prevent gas. Soaking also significantly reduces cooking time since the beans swell and soften with all that water in them. While people who don’t agree with this view do admit that soaking reduces the cooking time, they say that it does absolutely nothing to reduce the gas-producing properties of beans.
If you decide not to soak your beans, the matter ends here. Go ahead and cook your unsoaked beans and if you’re happy with the results, that’s it!
However, if you do decide to soak them, there is a further consideration.
Soaking beans brings us to the dilemma of keeping or discarding the water in which they have been soaked. Again, opinions differ on this one. The reason why some people throw away the soak water is because it is supposed to contain anti-nutrients (substances which cause flatulence). So, they say that if you don’t throw away this water, it is kind of pointless to soak beans in the first place.
But it is a trade-off. If you discard this water, you are also discarding the nutrients which have leached from the beans into the water. The taste and flavour of cooked beans is compromised as well!
Me? In the midst of all this fuzziness, I prefer to stick with traditional wisdom. My mother always soaks her beans and won’t hear of any new-fangled theories about cooking them as is. And she cooks the beans in the same water for a full-bodied flavour and taste. So, I follow suit. And really, I have found personally that this method works for me. The taste of beans cooked in the soak water is far superior to the ones without and I have not experienced any digestive discomfort thereafter.
If you want to really get into a spirited discussion of this issue and make up your own mind, check out this post by Vegan Coach http://www.vegancoach.com/why-discard-bean-soaking-water.html
Soak or no soak, kidney beans are a terrific source of protein, cholesterol lowering fibre, minerals and anti-oxidants. Include them in your diet if you want to pack a nutritional punch.
rajma chawal (kidney beans with rice)
Yield 6 servings
Piping hot red kidney beans in a thick tomato gravy topped with fried onions. Ladled on a bed of cumin rice, it makes for traditional North Indian comfort food called rajma chawal.
For the beans gravy:
- 2 cups red kidney beans, soaked for 12 hours, rinsed and drained
- 3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp extra for tempering (optional)
- 1 medium onion, ground to a paste + 1 small onion, sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 medium tomato, pureed
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 sprig coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 green chilli, slit lengthwise
- 3 cups water
- sea salt
For the cumin rice:
- 1 cup basmati rice, washed and drained
- 4cups water
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
For the beans gravy:
- In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add the onion and ginger pastes. Sauté for 4-5 minutes on medium heat
- Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook till the oil separates, approx. 10 mins
- Add the coriander powder, salt and red chilli powder and cook for 5 more minutes
- Add the kidney beans to this masala along with 3 cups water
- Close the lid and pressure cook for 25 minutes. Leave on hob to cool down. When all the steam has escaped, open the cooker and ladle it out in a dish.
- To temper the gravy, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small pan and add the sliced onions. When the onions turn reddish brown, pour the oil along with the caramelized onions into the dish.
- Garnish with chopped coriander and green chilli.
For the cumin rice: While the kidney beans are simmering in the pressure cooker, make the cumin rice to accompany them.
- Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds.
- After 1 minute, add the rice and 4 cups of water. Cook on a medium heat until the rice has absorbed most of the water.
- Cover and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes.
- Take out some rice in a plate and spoon some kidney beans gravy on top. Enjoy with a salad!
Soak your beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking them. Traditional cultures place a lot of emphasis on soaking legumes before cooking them and for a good reason – it aids in both digestibility and nutrient absorption. If you cook legumes without soaking them first, it can lead to gassiness and bloating!
Serving Size 1/2 cup kidney beans
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Unsaturated Fat 6.2 g
Sodium 528.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.6 g
Dietary Fiber 5.1 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 4 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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