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


  1. The combination of red and white beans adds such nice color to the dish Susan. The ingredients list seems long but these are just everyday stuff, that can be easily found. Will give this a try for one of our dinners with roti. :-)


  2. What a beautiful and flavorful curry! Exactly the kind of food I love to cook.



  3. I was curious when i read red and white beans. Love the idea of the combitation of two beans, and it looks so yummy too.

  4. This looks so good. Love the idea of combining 2 colors.

  5. Of course you know how much I would love this one and I know what you mean about drawing the line on where to stop tossing in spices. I have so many and I spend a lot of time considering which ones to omit as I just want to include so many. Just lovely and the picture is stunning. You seem to get better all of the time with your shots, which is saying something, because you are already a pro.

  6. Love the combo, protein packed ,healthy and delicious.

  7. Wow, with all those ingredients this seems like a very flavourful curry. :)