Rajma Masala

Rajma or Red Kidney Beans are a staple in almost every North Indian household. Rajma Chawal – Rajma served with Steamed Rice, is a legend in Punjab.
About their health benefits, I can go on and on…
High fiber aids weight loss. They are loaded with proteins, powerhouse of energy and stuffed with antioxidants that increase immunity. They maintain the blood sugar levels, thus preventing diabetes. They also maintain the blood pressure, leading to a healthy heart. Anti-aging, excellent for glowing skin and lustrous hair. Need I say more…

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rajma-masalaSoaking time: Overnight or minimum 10 hours
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
200 grams Rajma (you can also use the canned beans)
3 tbsp butter (I’m very generous with butter)
1 tbsp oil
3 medium or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
11/2 tbsp ginger+garlic+green chili paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Kashmiri / red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – optional
2 tbsp fresh cream
1/2 to 1 cup water…as per your desired thickness of the gravy
Salt as per taste
2 tsp lemon juice
Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
Soaking and Cooking Rajma:
1. Wash the beans and soak them in enough water overnight or for at least 10 hours. This softens the beans and expedites the cooking process.
2. Discard the liquid and wash the soaked beans under cold water.
3. Pressure cook the beans till done. They should be really soft… melt-in-mouth kind of soft.
4. If boiling, remember Rajma is a really stubborn bean. It’ll consume whole lot of time and fuel. So pressure cooking is advisable.
5. Save the cooking liquor – the liquid that’s left after cooking the beans.
6. Mash 2 tbsps of the cooked beans. They thicken the gravy.

Rajma Masala:
1. Heat oil, then add butter in a kadhai or a non-stick heavy bottomed pan.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
3. Add the cinnamon and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic and the oil is flavored.
4. Toss in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
5. Add the ginger+garlic+chili paste and saute for a minute. The raw smell should go away.
6. Add the spice powders – turmeric, coriander, cumin, red chili, garam masala and saute for a minute.
7. Add the tomato puree and fry till the oil starts leaving from sides.
8. Tumble in the beans, add the cooking liquor, mashed beans, sprinkle salt and give it a good stir. Add more water if needed.
9. Let it simmer without lid, on low for around 10 minutes.
10. After the gravy has attained the desired consistency, sprinkle the kasuri methi, add the fresh cream and lime juice.
11. Let it cook on low for another one last minute.
12. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with Steamed Rice, Jeera (Cumin) Rice, Roti or Naan slathered with butter.

P.S. : *There are two varieties of Rajma available in the market – Red and pinkish one. Cooking time varies for both. I prefer the red ones.
*If undercooked, the beans aren’t as flavorful as they should be. Also, under-cooked Rajma isn’t good for your stomach. So ensure it’s cooked thoroughly.
*If using canned beans, discard the liquid and take just the beans after giving them a quick run under cold water.

Matar Mushroom Masala – Spicy Green Peas and Mushrooms

Matar or Green Peas – high on antioxidants, loaded with fiber and proteins, generous amount of vitamins, yet low on calories. Excellent for your heart and bones.
Mushrooms – a storehouse of iron, packed with proteins and antioxidants and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. No fats, no cholesterol and very low on carbohydrates… a staple for diabetics.
When these two stars come together, backed with a thick luscious gravy, what you get is a guaranteed super-tasty, super-healthy, super super super dish.
matar-mushroom-masalaPreparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups of boiled peas
200 grams button mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size
3 medium or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3 tbsp butter / oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder. This gives that gorgeous red color without burning your tongue.
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp honey or sugar
1/2 to 1 cup water…as per your desired thickness of the gravy
Salt as per taste
1 tsp lemon juice
Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
1. Heat butter / oil in a kadhai or a broad, nonstick pan.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
3. Add the whole spices – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf. Fry on medium till aromatic.
4. Fry onions till translucent and golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
6. Add the spice powders – turmeric, coriander, Kashmiri chili… and fry for a minute.
7. Add the tomato puree and fry till the oil starts leaving from sides.
8. Tumble in the boiled peas and mushrooms and give a good stir.
9. Now add water, sprinkle salt and let it simmer for around 10 minutes or till the veggies are cooked.
10. Lastly, sprinkle the garam masala powder, squeeze lime juice and add a dash of honey / sugar
11. Let it cook on low for another 3-4 minutes.
10. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot with chapatis, fulkas, naan, jeera rice or steamed rice.

P.S.: You can also use Paneer or Cottage Cheese in place of mushrooms.
Adding honey / sugar gives a lift to the flavors.
Step 3 can be kept optional.

Always remember…the more time you invest cooking each step, the more flavors you add to your dish. Patience is the key 🙂