A king among beans - it is a Western & Indian favourite! Hmm........I am sure it is a universal favourite - It has great looks that only betters with cooking! Very much Indian - brightly coloured, rich in texture and has a rustic feel. I cook only 'kashmiri rajma' for the even size and shape of the beans. And before I get carried away - here's the way I cook it!

Ingredients: (serves 5)

Red kidney beans / Kashmiri rajma - 3 cups
(Soak beans in clean water for about 4 to 6 hours, drain)
Bay leaf - 1 big
a small stick of cinnamon/dalchini
Water for cooking the beans - Enough to soak plus 2 cups more
Salt - To taste

Onions - 2 (Finely chopped)
Tomatoes - 4 (Diced and pureed)
Red chilli powder - 1/2tsp - (You may use chilli flakes too! or more of both)
Turmeric powder - 1/2tsp.
The ones below are optional. They are my improvisations but believe me - they really add to the taste!
Any readymade sambar powder or better still bisibelebath pdr. - 1/2 tsp.
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Dry oregano - 1tsp.

Coriander - 10 to 12 stems - (Washed and chopped)

1. Cook the beans in fresh water with a little salt, bayleaf and cinnamon for 5 whistles. Reduce fire and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Put off fire and let the cooker cool. The beans will have a creamy consistency unless the beans are undercooked in which case you will find it a little runny and will have to mash some beans for the creamy consistency. Remove the cinnamon and bayleaf.

2. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or karahi with 2tbsp. oil (and 1tsp. white butter if not vegan). Season with curry leaves, and hing. Add onions and fry till transparent.

3. Add the tomato puree and cook till the colour changes to a deep bright red. Add the spices and the beans. Adjust salt and chilly to your liking. Mine is always mild except for the sharp flavour of oregano, as I like the taste of the beans as it is. Bring to a boil and remove from fire.

The rajma is ready to be served, if you wish - with a dash of vegan butter and a sprig of coriander.

If your rajma tastes a little 'khatta' or 'sour' depending on the variety of tomatoes, add a teaspoon of cashew paste if vegan, or a ladle of cold milk if not vegan, after it cools to room temperature.

Rajma is a versatile dish - it tastes good with roti or rice, and requires no other dish to complete the meal. A few rings of onion or thickly sliced onions on the side makes it better.

I love it as an accompaniment to my curd rice too!

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