Thursday, January 17, 2013

Red and White Rajma Curry


Rajma, the classic Punjabi kidney bean curry, is like the classic Italian tomato sauce: every household has their own unique spin and secret to what bubbles in their pots. My recipe, an amalgam of hot, sweet, and sour elements, is more complicated than some, but I found it nearly impossible to make decisions about which spices I could do without. The ingredient list is longer than my arm, but it was threatening to stretch down to my ankles. There were very few that failed to make the cut, but I had to draw the line somewhere.  I settled for nearly knee deep.

White and Red Rajma Curry 

Serves 4


2 tablespoon oil (I used safflower)
2 medium onions, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon amchur (sour mango powder)
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida 
3 cups fresh tomato pulp with juices
2 Thai green chiles, sliced (seeds retained if you can tolerate the heat)
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
2 cups cooked white kidney beans (cannellini)
2 cups water
1 dice-sized piece jaggery (or 1 teaspoon brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small handful fresh coriander leaves
4 teaspoons melted ghee (optional)
4 teaspoons grated jaggery (optional)


In a large skillet, warm the oil over low heat for a few seconds until it shimmers.  Add onionMaintaining low heat, stir occasionally, until golden and translucent (about 10 minutes).  Stir in garlic and ginger, heating through until fragrant, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add cumin and fennel seed, cloves, and bay leaf.  When cumin and fennel seeds start to sizzle, add all dry spice powders, stirring well to coat the mixture.  Toss repeatedly until the powders are warm and moistened, ensuring their raw flavors have cooked out.  The mixture will resemble burnished shreds of rag.  Stir in tomato pulp and chiles, increasing heat to medium.  Cook until the oil separates from the solids.  Stir in all kidney beans and water. Add jaggery.  Increase heat to bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Keep uncovered, stirring occasionally until liquid has reduced by three-quarters.  Since the cannellini are very delicate and prone to breakage, you need not mash the mixture to thicken.   A rich gravy will naturally develop, clinging to all the beans.

Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. Taste for adjustments. Scatter coriander leaves over top. Drizzle with melted ghee and sprinkle jaggery.  The jaggery will instantly melt into the curry, but will leave a pretty dusting garnish over the greens.  Serve immediately with cumin basmati rice.  With flavors melded and mellowed, leftovers are a luxury. 

This is my extremely tardy contribution to December's MLLA, hosted by Sukanya of Saffron Streaks. Sukanya's delicious round-up can be found hereI am hosting my final turn as this month, before February heralds in a new MLLA administrator.  An announcement with full details will be coming soon.

Been There, Done That

Green Mango Dal
Channa Pulao
Coconut Chickpea Curry

Rajma Inspiration from Others

Chef in You
Lisa's Kitchen
Sanjeev Kapoor
Archana's Kitchen
Monsoon Spice

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Announcing My Legume Love Affair 55 - Here This Month


Are you still writing 2012 on your checks and other documents? Good. Then I am not all that late in wishing you a Very Happy New Year. Nor am I terribly tardy in announcing that this month's MLLA #55 is being hosted here at The Well-Seasoned Cook. January's event, however, will be a bittersweet stint.  As creator of this bean extravaganza back in 2008, I have been reluctant to let it go, but let it go I must.

2013 is guaranteed to be a roil of new activity off and online for me, necessitating a changing of the guard in terms of MLLA's administration.  With two (yes, two!) new businesses to launch, as well as a brand-new blog slated for the spring, TWSC is going to need all the TLC that I can collect.

So MLLA, effective February, will go forward in the talented hands of a dear friend and dedicated vegetarian blogger whom many of us are well acquainted with.  I expect the long history to repeat itself with L's own unique touches. Although the curtain is not quite ready to be lifted on her identity, she and I are working hard behind the panel to ensure a smooth transition in the next few weeks.  All details, including future guest hosts, will be revealed in time for you to participate in future months without confusion nor dismay.

While the new year is being sorted out, let me reprise the guidelines for January's event:

* Prepare and post a legume-centric recipe between now and January 31, linking to this announcement.  Use of the logo is optional.

* Archived recipe posts will be accepted if updated and republished to reflect the current event. Submissions to other events is permitted, but do check to see if they have restrictions.

* All cuisines and courses are welcome, keeping in mind that with the exception of a few legumes such as fenugreek and tamarind, which are often only used in small quantity, this event is about  recipes featuring legumes as the key ingredient.

* Any legume is encouraged, from common dried beans to alfalfa sprouts, to derivatives such as tofu and chickpea flour, as long as it is a true legume and not part of the broader French term which defines legumes as all vegetables.

* Send your name, blog name, post URL, photo (400 X 300 pixels, either orientation), and your location to thewellseasonedcookATyahooDOTcom.  Your location won't be published, but it's needed to conduct the random prize drawing/s, a tradition that will continue through 2013.

January's prizes are:

1) Field Guide to Produce:  How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable at the Market. This book, a fun and useful reference tool which I've offered before, is funded by me along with worldwide shipping.  I have no vested interest in the authors, publishers, nor Amazon. 

2) The Hurst Bean Prize - A 6-pack assortment of products sponsored by the N.K. Hurst Company.  Due to shipping regulations, this prize is restricted to U.S. residents only.  (F.T.C. Disclosure - Although I do not receive financial nor routine product compensation, I have requested and was given a few products from Hurst in 2010 when I was unable to find them in my local markets.)

Drawing Structure: If the winner is a U.S. resident, she/he will receive both prizes.  In the event the winner is a non-U.S. resident, a second drawing will be conducted from the pool of U.S. participants in order to award the Hurst prize.

Sukanya of Saffron Streaks will be posting her MLLA 54 round-up from December in next few days. My recipe, late as it is, will be online tomorrow.  Come Tuesday, I will clearly have jumped the calendar into 2013.

Warm Wishes Always. ~~~