14 January, 2008

Pleasure of Slow Cooking with Rajma


January, cold January…. As I stare down another long, bitter cold, horrid and dark January, my thoughts turn to the kind of food that nurtures my tummy and soul, brightens my mood, soothes my senses. When I ask myself what’s soothing on a gray winter day, I picture tucking into deep bowl of soup or dal rice. First thing I reach for is comfort food when the weather turns bitterly cold in the depths of British winter. And who can blame me for this when the central heating at home is on full blast and air-conditioning unit in office don’t seem to get over the fact that it’s no more summer. For most of us comfort food has three characteristics- it offers a substantial hit of carbos; it is never over-flavoured, neither bland nor too spicy/sweet; and it is always easy to eat without much fuss. From the time I got back from my trip I seem to have spent most of last two weeks feeling miserable, homesick and continuously struggling with my work deadline. Ultimately it’s comfort food that sooths my nerves and hugs me in its warmth as it touch my lips and spreads its warmth to my soul.

Yes, lately I have been cooking comfort foods. I am not talking about some high calorie sins here. I am cooking and eating simple, traditional, no-fuss food which I crave for. It’s a food which takes me on a virtual tour to back home where I see little 6 something me eating holding small balls of rasam/dal rice in my little chubby fingers and eating it while listening to stories. These small balls of rasam/dal rice with ghee, “Kai Thuttu" as we call, was given by Amma would taste heavenly in spite the fact that it was just every day food. It’s mother’s love that transferred this common food to something extra ordinary. It’s one experience which every one of us will treasure for rest of our life. Even now in my mid 20’s I never spare a chance of eating Kai Thuttu when I am at home with my Amma.

Apart from simple Dals and Rasams one such dish which I strongly believe falls into comfort food zone is Rajma-Chawal. Delicious Red Kidney Beans simmered in creamy and aromatic onion-tomato gravy lightly touched with right spices served with a steaming bowl of basmati rice is special favourite of mine for seeing off the winter blues. Rajma is one dish where you hardly need to sweat out in front of the stove yet unbelievably the end result is one lip smackingly delicious meal. When ever I cook some lentil/pulses I follow slow cooking method where the pulses are simmered in gravy for long hours to blend in all the flavour. One thing to remember when you go for slow cooking method is to use heavy bottomed pan or utensils so that the gravy doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If you own an earthen pot then you will sure to experience another dimension of taste. With little stirring here and there this Rajma recipe is simple to nothing and it is sure to please everyone’s taste buds. I'm sending this comforting bowl of Rajma to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook who has asked us to cook with beans/pulses for her My Legume Love Affair and Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey who is hosting MM-Comfort Foods. How can I say no to these lovely ladies!!! Hope you girls enjoy it.

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Rajma (Kidney Beans in lighly spiced Onion-Tomato Gravy)
Prep Time: 5-10 mins (Excluding soaking time)
Cooking Time: 45 mins - 1 hour
Serves: 3-4

1 can Kidney Beans or 1 cup Rajma/Red Kidney Beans, soaked over night
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 can chopped Tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, thinly sliced
2-3 Garlic Flakes, finely chopped
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
1 tsp Amchoor/Dry Mango Powder or Anardaana Powder
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
1 inch Cinnamon
3 Green Cardamoms
2 Cloves
½ + ½ tbsp Oil
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Hing/Asafetida
Salt to taste


If using soaked kidney beans, cook the beans in pressure cooker with little salt and enough water for about 15 minutes till it is cooked.
Heat ½ tbsp of oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic and onion pieces to it. Sauté it for about 1-2 mins till onion turn translucent and raw smell of ginger garlic is gone.
Add chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes and sauté it for about 2 minutes. Switch off the flame and let the onion-tomato base cool down a little.
Once cooled take onion-tomato base, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves in a blender and grind them to smooth paste.
Heat ½ tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add cumin seeds and hing. When jeera starts to crackle transfer the ground mixture to the pan and give a good stir. Cook on a medium flame for about 3-4 minutes.
Add cooked/canned Rajma, chilli powder, amchoor/anardaana powder, kasuri methi and salt to taste. Mix 1-2 cups of water and reduce the flame.
Cook cover in low flame, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 minutes till all the flavours blend well. This slow cooking gives creamy texture to the gravy as well as great taste.
Serve hot Rajma garnished with coriander leaves with steaming bowl of Basmati Rice or Roties and enjoy.

Substitute Rajma with White Kabuli Channa or Black Channa with Potatoes and follow the same recipe for different flavour.
Add greens like Spinach/Palak, Methi/Fenugreek leaves to add more green intake.
Few more Comfort Foods (Dal/Rasams) of mine posted in Monsoon Spice are


  1. Hi Sia,
    Thank you for your comment on my blog.

    Your blog looks wonderful. You chose such a perfect name - Monsoon Spice. Both so very Indian.

  2. You've described the concept and meaning of comfort foods so well! And love your choice of comforting meals. Rajma-chawal is my favorite too :). Now give me some :-D.

  3. Ahhh...the pleasures of rajma...I too love simmering it...seems to continue for ages...not that I mind :-)...welcome back.

  4. hey, darling, meeta's theme this month is comfort food. for me comfort food is bread. rajma on the side would be awesome.

  5. Sigh!! comfort food! I have so many!hehehe!
    Rajma looks lovely!!

  6. Hello dearie....:) i see a pretty bowl there...colletions from ur recent trip, huh ? :)

  7. I haven't even tasted it yet, but I see amchoor, fenugreek leaves and cardamom. I want to swoon. Thank you for this beautiful recipe, Sia. It would indeed be a comfort from the cold.

  8. I've never had kidney beans this way before and will definitely try it. This year, I have resolved to eating a lot of simple foods. I have a few dishes I refer to as comfort food and dhal, rice and achar is most definitely there, perhaps as number 1.

  9. Hi sia,
    If you know the theme for MM of Meeta is comfort food , you can send it for that ,right now !
    I love Rajma, this humble and little tasteless beans are too good for health too , thanks for sharing the recipe. I will try it soon.
    perhpas you would like to take part in the ongoing theme on my blog .
    Hugs to you dear

  10. You really make me wanna go into the comfort zone by eating this lovely simple dish. I just adore them.

  11. Hi Sia,
    Rajma superagi kantha ide. lunch time illi...so tumba gastronomic aagi kantha ide ;)

  12. Sup
    Rajma Looks so yum!!
    Good to see you back and hey i bought so many fresh veggies yest so my cooking spree starts from tomorrow!!

  13. @Anjali,
    thank u and warm welcome to my corner anjali. glad to have u here.

    i knew u will ask for some. so i have kept a bowl of rice and rajam for u sweetie:)

    true, i have started cooking most of the lentils for long. they taste so wonderful. and thank u:)

    thanks bee. i have sent it to meeta. there is still so much to ctach up:) bread and rajma...mmm...if its whole meal bread then i am in:)

    lol... we both have many things in common;)

    aha!!! i am not surprised that u noticed them. :)

    i hope u get to cook and eat it someday susan. it is one of the best and very popular punjabi food in india. and thank u for accepting my entry:)

    cynth darling... thats my #1 comfort food too. and if u haven't tried rajma then i would highly recommond u to try it soon. its one dish i cook every month and still cant get enough of it.

    so good to see u resume blogging poo:) u were missed. yes, i have sent it to meeta. thank you.
    i will surely check ur blog and see if i can participate. hugs to u too:)



    hope u have recoved and feeling well dear. i visit local farmer's market every weekend and buy truck load of veggies:) will look forward to what u gonna cook and post:)

  14. Love the rajma.
    I like them to have with chapattis.
    Just delicious

  15. Amazingly beautiful pics!, loved your description too!!

  16. I love rajma. I remember how I would wait for Thursday nights...Rajma-kadhi nights...during my hostel days.:-)

  17. Sups,
    you can also send this to , my legume love affair event. just check out this.


    stay tuned buddy...

  18. Hi Supriya
    thanku for the wishes.
    I like rajma curry.i tried once using my own recipe.but it doesn't seem so tasty.This time will try this one.

    sankranti wishes to u and ur family.

  19. definitely comfort food..welcome back

  20. Rajma is perfect for the winter.. and slow cooking must've given a great flavour. The food that one's mom prepares with love always tastes great even if it's as simple as rasam and rice.

  21. Hi Sups,

    How was your trip?sorry i think i'm little late....but felt lets be late but not never...Hey this recipe is delicious and looks rich....hmmm..yummy...

    Sorry got busy with some personel works....so couldn't visit blogs also very often...

  22. wow sia, rajma looks sooooooo tempting.So beautiful pics.. did miss your post.hope you had a great vaccation in india.

  23. The way you described id very nice and its a pleasure reading though!

  24. Comfort food indeed.. I am not a rajma fan, but I love everything else in this dish... good to see a recipe from you after a looong time girlie... :)

  25. Lovely lovely sia...great to have you back..looking forward to that wayanadu pictures too!

  26. Dear Sia
    Thanks for dropping by at my blog. Just the kidney beans and rice is a favourite meal for lots of us during lunch-break from the office. Instant energy and satisfying !

  27. Lovely.... Somehow Rajma chawal is not yet comfort food for me... maybe I get too much of it :-)

    But your recipe is great :-) as are the pics.

  28. Namaste Sia! Rajma are to me the most perfect comfort foods I know. I love your recipe and the pics make the rajma look so creamy! Thanks for sending this perfect dish to the MM!

  29. Sia,
    Rajma -chawal ,my fav and great pic ,just look the colour of the gravy ,amazing ..
    thanks for stoping by at my place .
    so how was like reading Kite Runner ,these day I hear about this book a lot here in Kolkata ..
    i like the new look of Monsoon ,gives u a soothing smell of rain ..oh!!
    hugs and smiles

  30. I love Rajma. It has been ages since I last tried this. I will have to give a try soon...

  31. Hi sia

    Lovely rajma. I tried your other rajma dish (dal makhani) came out very nice. will try it this one

  32. nice recipe and pics looks beautifull

  33. hy sia,this rajma curry sounds unique,really comfort food...i do often make rajma wid chapati...

  34. I was in search of a good rajma recipe, tried many from online blogs/recipe site but was not that satisfied with the end product. I would love to try this as it looks so delicious and yummy

  35. Ah, sweetie I love rajma-chawal too. Think of it, there are so many comfort foods!!!

  36. @All,
    thank you all for ur lovely words. i am glad u enjoyed the post and recipe:)

  37. Hi Sia, your recipes are always soothing! Nice picture.

  38. Hi Sia,
    I tried your rajma recipe and it came out awesome. Just wanted to give you the credit for it. Thanks so much.


  39. Hi Sia,
    I tried your rajma recipe and it was awesome. Thanks so much.


  40. Hi Sia,
    I tried yor Rajma recipe and it was such a hit....thanks

  41. Hema & N33ma,
    I am realy glad to know u both enjoyed this dish. thank you for letting me know :)

  42. Hi Sia, how have you been? Congrats on your anniversary. Today for lunch I tried this Rajma and it was amazing. Actually I saw this in HappyCook's site when she had posted it last week and I also wanted to make it because I have only used kidney beans in soups. I have not prepared Rajma before.

    It was so creamy. The only change I made was, I added a handful of mashed kidney beans to make it thick because I added more water I guess. The taste was so good. Thanks for the simple yet delicious recipe.


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