Have you ever picked up a cookbook and opened it right to the page with the perfect recipe, the one that exactly suited your mood and for which you had all the ingredients? No? Well, neither have I. Normally I pour over multiple cookbooks, imagining this recipe and that–or this recipe combined with elements of that–but I never just pick the first recipe I come to. Until yesterday.
I was all set for a long perusal of Neelam Batra’s The Indian Vegetarian, a book which miraculously had no torn bits of paper or sticky notes marking its pages. I settled into my comfy chair, sipped my coffee, and allowed the book to fall open, to page 266 as it happened: Kidney Beans in a Curry Sauce on the left, Black-Eyed Peas with Garlic and Scallions on the right.
I was immediately drawn to the kidney bean dish because it sounded a lot like an Indian version of my home-state comfort food, Red Beans and Rice. I checked over the list of ingredients, and except for fresh ginger, I had all the ingredients. After a 15-minute trip to the nearby Indian grocery, where the ginger is the freshest in town, I had everything I needed for a complete Indian dinner, including a package of onion naan, brown basmati rice, and tender young okra to be roasted with curry powder.
I took several liberties with the recipe, including leaving out the 1/2 cup of cilantro which Ms. Batra adds to the beans along with the ginger. (I’m one of those people who doesn’t like cilantro, though I have been training myself to tolerate it in small amounts as a garnish; feel free to use it if you like.) I also changed the cooking method of the beans, omitted the oil, and adjusted the seasonings a bit. My dish, while still mild, may be a little more highly spiced, but I think it’s true to the flavor and style of the original–simple home-cooking, the kind that’s universally comforting, nourishing, and delicious.
Rasedar Rajma (Kidney Beans in Curry Sauce)
- 2 cups dried kidney beans
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon ginger root
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 onion ,minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds or dried thyme
- 2 cups tomatoes , finely diced
- 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (or soymilk thickened with 1 tsp. lemon juice)
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon red chilli pepper or cayenne (more to taste)
- chopped cilantro (optional garnish)
- Rinse the kidney beans and put them in a large pot or pressure cooker along with 6 cups water, the ginger root, and the salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. (In a pressure cooker, bring to high pressure and then remove from heat.)
- Remove from heat and allow the beans to rest, covered, for at least 1 hour. Drain the water, add another 6 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Simmer until beans are tender, about an hour. (Alternately, pressure cook the beans: bring to high pressure and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.) When the beans are done, leave them in their cooking liquid while you make the sauce.
- Heat a non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the minced onion, and cook until it’s beginning to brown, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and ajwain and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the non-dairy yogurt and the coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, garam masala, and chilli pepper.
- Drain 2 cups of liquid from the beans and stir half of it into the sauce. Add the sauce to the beans and stir. If the sauce is too thick or dry, add some or all of the reserved bean cooking liquid. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and flavors have blended. Check seasonings and add salt to taste. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve with basmati rice or chapatis, paranthas, or naan.
Nutritional info is approximate.
By the way, my husband insists that Black-Eyed Peas with Garlic and Scallions should be the next thing I cook from this book, and if I can get around the whole cup of cilantro it uses, I just might give it a try.
SusanVAugust 2, 2009 at 9:33 am
Comments posted before the blog was moved to WordPress:
Looks delicious, and certainly doesn’t help my craving for Indian food today :]
Isn’t it true, though, that naan dough is made with yogurt and is therefore non-vegan? Thanks,
12:51 PM, May 02, 2008
That looks so good! And I love your bowls.
2:33 PM, May 02, 2008
Melisser; the Urban Housewife said…
Ooh, this sounds SO good!
2:35 PM, May 02, 2008
pleasantly plump vegan said…
i would totally eat this up!
3:49 PM, May 02, 2008
Anonymous, I know that some recipes for naan are non-vegan, but the package I bought was completely animal product-free.
Carrie, I just have one of those bowls, bought from the local farmers’ market and made by a local potter.
Thanks, Melisser and Pleasantly Plump. It was really good!
4:06 PM, May 02, 2008
Great recipes… and if you don’t have your usual stash of “awain” seeds around, use cumin seeds!
5:56 PM, May 02, 2008
yielded heart said…
I am totally making this!
Love the bowl, too!
6:53 PM, May 02, 2008
Susan, the bowl is absolutely gorgeous. Where did you get that one? Its adorable.
🙂 I cook the same way as you. It takes me longer to decide what to cook than actually cooking it. I also go through my whole cookbook library and choose this from this one combined that from another one…
You no cilantro friend? wow… i would not say that, you cook so much Asian 🙂
11:56 PM, May 02, 2008
This lounds so good, and uncomplicated- excellent.
And wow, that bowl is georgeous. I wish I had a super-talented-local-pottery-type hanging out at our marché!
12:03 AM, May 03, 2008
This is too funny. I’ve been watching a guy on YouTube this last week, who cooks Indian food and it looks so yummy. But, I too despise cilantro (one of my fave sites is IHateCilantro.com) so have stayed away from Indian food not knowing until a few years ago when cilantro seemed to explode into all restaurant foods why I had avoided Indian food so much.
We’d recently gone to a meeting, which doubled as a potluck and one of the dishes was Indian chili. It was so good I just emailed the cook and asked for the recipe which came yesterday and was titled Rajma.
Funny how life works.
Been reading your site for months. Now I know why so many of your recipes appeal to me. I’m not big on breads either (nor soy, all of which makes me an odd veggie even to other veggies).
Thanks for your version too. 🙂
1:03 AM, May 03, 2008
Looks great! Since no one else asked: Can canned beans be substituted for the dried ones?
9:03 AM, May 03, 2008
I’ve thought about it, and I’m sure you could use canned beans instead of cooking them from dry. I would probably add the ginger with the garlic and put 2 cups of water into the sauce. The I’d add 3 or 4 cans of kidney beans that had been rinsed and drained. Simmer for about an hour, adding water as needed. I don’t think they’ll break down or get as soft as dried, but if you want, you can mash some of the beans to thicken the gravy.
That’s my best guess, anyway!
9:37 AM, May 03, 2008
This looks absoutely yummy. Susan. I have to add it my “must make” list. And Mark, thanks for the suggestion about substituting cumin for the aswain–up here in the sticks we can’t always find these things!
12:42 PM, May 03, 2008
Thank you so much for the recipe! It was really delicious.
12:48 PM, May 03, 2008
The Veggie Guy said…
Yum! I think I’ll try using the canned beans too… I’m sure it turns out better with dried beans, but I don’t usually have that level of forethought to properly soak dried beans. 🙂
Wonderful sounding recipe, anyway!
BTW, I added you to my blogroll.
5:20 PM, May 03, 2008
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said…
I’m not a cilantro person, either — but I am definitely a hot and spicy person, so I’d probably up the cayenne a bit! This looks delicious — will have to check out this cookbook as I’ve been reading so much about it.
11:01 PM, May 03, 2008
Brit Rose said…
hi there. this is totally off subject. but i figured yall would probably have an answer for me.
by the way i just randomly found this blog by searching vegan blogs in google. okay.
so i am just wondering if semi sweet chocolate chips are really considered vegan. because i know the ingredients show no animal products but i am still a little nervous about using them. are they truly vegan or do i have to buy a product that says ‘certified vegan’ on it?
11:53 PM, May 03, 2008
vegan addict said…
i am also a cilantro-hater…even the smell makes me quiver. but, this recipe looks amazing…mmmmmmm naan.
and i agree with previous commenters, that is a beautiful bowl! perfect for the curry!
11:56 PM, May 03, 2008
Brit Rose, I can’t speak for all vegans. Some would balk at chocolate that contains sugar that might be processed through animal charcoal; they would stick with the chocolate marked vegan. Others are less concerned with the sugar issue (and possibly don’t even have access to “vegan” chocolate) and would be happy to use chips that don’t contain any actual animal ingredients. So, it’s really up to you to decide where to draw the line.
8:52 AM, May 04, 2008
I was surprised to read that you’re trying to adapt to small amounts of cilantro. I remember you said once there was a genetic component to the “soap” taste, so I figured there was no way to get beyond it.
How’s it working? I love cilantro myself, and can’t imagine not liking it, but my oldest doesn’t like it at all.
4:07 PM, May 04, 2008
i think therefore i am said…
U know how u wrote about opening up a book and finding a recipe u wanted.. This is the second time this is happening to me on ur blog.. Earlier I had eggplant and was wondering how I would cook it.. Opened ur blog and boom there was a recipe for eggplant in a soup!! I had soaked some rajma beans today and was gonna make it.. And again I have a new recipe..
5:41 PM, May 04, 2008
Kathy, after reading that people have successfully taught themselves to like cilantro, I decided to give it a try. After all, it gets old having to scrape off the top layer of my food (and give it to my husband) every time we eat at an Indian restaurant. So I’ve just been going ahead and eating the garnish, and I’ve also planted cilantro in my herb garden, and I take a nibble every now and then. It still tastes like soap, but not as strongly or as offensively as before. I still haven’t gotten to the point that it tastes good–or that I can tell why anyone would like it–but I’m started to get a sense of other flavors besides soap. Just barely–but maybe with more practice it’ll get better.
I still think it’s a genetic characteristic, but maybe it’s one that can be overcome with hard work.
8:23 AM, May 05, 2008
Fresh from the Source said…
The recipe looks great, though I will likely use all the cilantro called for in the original.
I’ve read with fascination the comments about cilantro. I loooooove cilantro, and am wondering about the genetic component of the soapy taste that is mentioned. I don’t taste soap at all (not that I’ve eaten that much soap to really know what it tastes like.)
8:57 PM, May 05, 2008
Hi Susan! This looks great! My Mom recently taught me how to make this in the slow cooker. It comes out delish. Usually I soak the kidney/rajma beans in the morning before work, and then set the slow cooker when I am going to bed. It turns out great, and with hardly any effort. I usually have this with brown rice and a chopped onion relish. The papad from the Indian store (at least the brand I get) are vegan, and a nice crunchy complement)!
2:55 PM, May 06, 2008
That looks wonderful!
1:56 AM, May 07, 2008
I have a question about adding the salt when cooking the beans. Does this toughen them or prevent them from cooking thoroughly? Usually I cook my beans first and then add salt later. Also Puja, do you throw everything into the crock pot, or do you saute the onions and spices first? Thank you for your answers. I have 2 cups of kidney beans that I pulled out of the cupboard, and am putting my beans out to soak now.
5:57 AM, May 07, 2008
For years I cooked my beans without salt because of that “toughening” theory, but after reading that it’s just a myth, I started adding salt. If you look at my photos, you can see that my beans are so tender that they are barely holding together. I believe that cooking them with a little salt decreases the need to add much salt later on; the salt is in the beans and makes them much tastier. Of course, anyone who is avoiding salt should leave it out completely, but if you want your beans salted, I say go ahead and cook them with salt.
6:30 AM, May 07, 2008
Lily Girl said…
I just wanted to tell you that I made this last night for dinner and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I did add cilantro at the end since I love it, and I don’t think my beans broke down quite as much as yours, I wonder if that is because I didn’t use a pressure cooker. Anyway, thanks again 🙂
10:02 PM, May 07, 2008
Thanks for the recipe! I liked it, but I found that 2 tablespoons ground coriander seemed like an extremely huge amount compared to the measurements of the other spices. I only used 1 tablespoon and the dish still seemed overwhelmed by coriander flavor. After it sat overnight, though, it tasted pretty good. Thanks again-will continue to check your blog for more great recipes.
3:39 PM, May 08, 2008
Hi Susan..I love that bowl too!
Quite besides the topic on hand..may I know what kind of oil spray (pump?) you use? I’ve been looking it up online & am kinda frowning at the $10 cost. Is there anyway one could use a cheap, plastic spray?
8:25 AM, May 09, 2008
Seetha, I have terrible luck with oil misters. I have the Misto and really don’t like it. It sprays out a stream, not a mist, no matter how often I clean it. I have a new one that I really like, only I don’t know the brand. It is a clear plastic and is about 6 inches tall. If I can find it online, I’ll post a link here.
I’ve tried using kitchen spray bottles, but they didn’t work with oil.
3:52 PM, May 10, 2008
Nice recipe, Susan. Re: cooking beans, like kidney and garbanzo, I always soak the dry beans overnight in water and that cuts down on cooking time and there’s no need to pre-cook it/cook it twice. I also use a pressure cooker and it’s so convenient.
10:38 AM, May 18, 2008
It scares me to think that Susan might just be turning me into an Indian chef, between this and the Cauliflower Dahl! It’s a private joke among my friends that if I like you, I’ll invite you for dinner – and if I don’t like you, I’ll invite you sometime when I’m making Indian food! But this (and the Dahl) is simply superior!! Note – I used canned tomatoes and left out the added salt. Also, did not have fenugreek on hand, but it’s still really good. I look forward to making a second batch before the week is out.
2:25 PM, May 25, 2008
*sigh* I wish I could find vegan naan around here (I’m in Austria). The only brand I can come up with has whey powder in it… :((
I guess I need to move to a place with more (and better stocked) Asian shops. 😉
1:57 AM, April 27, 2009
I just made this dish– wonderful but too much coriander. I will use probably 1 t next time. Any suggestions, Susan?
Also, I used thyme since I did not have the Ajwain seeds.
9:10 PM, May 11, 2009
I think thyme was a good substitution for the ajwain. I made it with 2 tbsp. of coriander, but if that was too much for you, by all means, cut it down.
10:11 PM, May 11, 2009
ArielApril 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm
What is ajwain and can it be substituted/ or omitted?
lucyMay 16, 2010 at 10:19 am
as it says in the link to wiki ajwain can be substituted with thyme.
LouiseJune 1, 2010 at 7:29 am
Is the soy yoghurt vital to this dish or could it either be omitted or substituted with something else (coconut cream for instance)?
SusanVJune 1, 2010 at 7:55 am
I haven’t tried it with coconut cream, but my guess is that it would be a good substitute for the yogurt, which provides a little extra creaminess. You might also add a little lemon juice (1 tsp.) to replace the yogurt’s tartness.
BexJune 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm
I really like this recipe. I just wish I had a pressure cooker so that I could cook it faster! Absoloutly wonderful dish.
Thank you for posing such consistantly great food. I have never tried a recipe from your blog that hasn’t been delicious, and your recipes are always clear and easy to follow. Please keep doing what you’re doing!
Pat BMay 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm
I have been looking for a naan recipe which does not use milk or yogurt. Though not completely vegan, I am lactose intolerant and somewhat allergic to soy. I found a recipe which requires only water plus 3 Tablespoons milk. Would rice milk work okay for this or oat milk? Do you have any good recipes for vegan naan?
Susan VoisinMay 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm
I don’t have a naan recipe, but I think that rice or oat milk would work instead of the milk, especially such a small amount. Good luck!
RuthMay 3, 2017 at 8:14 pm
I too,used used to have an aversion to cilantro. I thought it tasted like soap. Somehow, I now really like it! Perhaps it is from eating at Chipotle. I love their cilantro rice and fresh and corn salsas.
KatieMay 4, 2017 at 1:09 am
This recipe looks delicious. Do you think almond milk would work instead of soy? I can’t have soy.
Susan VoisinMay 4, 2017 at 9:01 am
Yes, it won’t be as thick but it should work.
geetOctober 4, 2017 at 6:11 am
Rasedar Rajma! this is yumm, i want it right now. i wish i could have it right.
michaelOctober 21, 2018 at 11:11 am
Can anyone tell me if this recipe calls for fenugreek seeds or leaves? The recipe just says “ground fenugreek.” My guess is that the “ground” refers to ground seeds, but I’m not sure. I don’t have a lot of experience with either, and apparently they are rather different from each other.
AlexandraApril 9, 2021 at 7:35 pm
Delicious; this will become a staple as it usess ingredients I commonly have on hand, and is very easy.