Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Finding comfort in a bowl of Rajma Curry

Over a decade ago, one very homesick Delhiite frowned and curled her lip in disdain and declared that Mumbai did not have good food. Pshaw!
And one very surprised Mumbai girl shook here head, vigorously, as if to stop the words from ringing in her ears. Forgive her Lord, she knows not.....
Thus began a quest for 'good food' in Mumbai.

To a Mumbaiite, it seems impossible that someone can make such a bold statement, but I guess one has to make allowances for homesickness and especially, when that person is your best friend.
We began on a quest, we had to find 'good food ' for this home-sick Delhi Girl. We went to various restaurants and experimented with different Choley Bhature, Chana Masala and the like, nothing seemed to get a thumbs up from her. There wasn't even a whiff of a Rajma Chawal or Kala Chana-Chawal on the menu, then, and the poor Girl longed for the comfort food she grew up on. I was at a loss, I had never eaten Rajma- Chawal, my comfort food varied so much from hers. And then, one day, we found this small cafe, tucked away in Vashi ( New Bombay or Navi Mumbai as it is now called) Chaat Cafe. It was bright colorful and inviting. The menu to our delight, had ALL the items a home-sick Delhiite wanted needed. That day, was the first time I tasted Rajma- Chawal. Okay, so I will admit it here, I was not too excited about it, I had ordered me a good ol' chaat platter , the chaat addict that I was (and still am). But we girls loved to share and  a forkful of the  Rajma- Chawal was good enough to convince me why the room suddenly lit up as if,with a 1000 watt bulb! It was my friend's happy face. She had found her comfort food, at last. Needless to say, that was the joint we haunted in sickness and in health.
I haven't been to Chaat Cafe in years, even when I was in India. The magic was when 2 BFF's  went there and made memories.

Today we are far away from each other, separated by time and distance, by a domestic routine so demanding that even a conversation is difficult. And today, I find comfort in Rajma-chawal, just like a very home-sick Delhi Girl once did.

Serves 4-6

1 Cup Rajma / dark red Kidney Beans ( soaked overnight or 8 hours)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp. Turmeric powder
3Tbsp. Oil
2 Bay Leaves
2 Black Cardamoms
3 medium Onions grated
2 tsp. Ginger paste
1/2 Green chili paste
1/4 tsp. Garlic paste
3/4 tsp Red chili powder
4 large Tomatoes (pureed)
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
2 Tbsp. Cilantro chopped

Pressure cook the kidney beans with 4 1/2 cups water, salt and 1/4 tsp. turmeric to one whistle. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins. Turn off the heat.

Heat 3 tbsp. Oil in a pan for 30 seconds, add bay leaves, black cardamom, onions, ginger, green chili and garlic paste.

Fry until light golden brown. Add 3/4 tsp turmeric and red chili powder and mix well.

Add the pureed tomato and fry until oil separates

Add the cooked kidney beans along with the water and salt to taste, bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes

Add the chopped cilantro leaves and Garam masala. Turn off the heat.

Serve hot over a mound of fluffy Basmati rice ( pickle and papad optional) for a complete meal.

I cut the quantity in half, used a can of Kidney Beans and 2 whole peeled tomatoes (Roma) that I blended with some  water.

I used less water than asked for, the resultant curry was  thicker and chunkier, more to my taste.

Ideally this curry is enjoyed when ladeled over hot rice, but we ( M and I) enjoy it with  breads as well ( roti / fulkas and in my case even with  a slice of crusty French Bread)

This memory got me thinking, what is 'good food'? What do you look for in good food? 
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  1. I love how rich & creamy the gravy looks....Yummy!!!

  2. rajma curry is ultimate comfort food.

  3. Inviting nutritious and droolworthy rajma masala..

  4. The contrasts in the presentation is lovely..The rajma's look delicious..


  5. What I can say this is my all time favorite comfort food too.LOVE it! I can have it for lunch and dinner and breakfast the next day. :)

    US Masala

  6. I tasted Rajma once moved to US! My mom never did at home, the dish looks just delicious!

  7. Good food....well,it has to be spicy, 'soulfilling', and healthy.
    By the way,I never understood the hue and cry over Rajma chawal any time, and I tjought I was alone, glad to know you think so too.I love rajma with phulka or even in a tortilla!

  8. I love rajma but I am so unlucky that when ever I try making the seeds are too dormant and never cook properly:(

  9. Rajma is nutritious and when presented so beautifully no can can resist.

  10. Is that the Chat cafe in sec 17 in the Vashi with just about 4-5 tables? I remember eating there too. It was authentic Delhi food.

  11. Thank You everyone!

    @Sharmi, I am not too keen on the soaking and coking method and honestly, prefer the canned beans.

    @Anjali: Yes, yes! you are right, that is the cafe I am talking about! Have u been there, is it still in business?

  12. Very comforting indeed! Lovely flavors, yummy!



  13. rajmma curry is so tempting ki grab it just now and eat it. all time faverate.
    1st time here lovely space.do visit my site

  14. Its tempting and perfect.You have a nice blog.

  15. My best wishes for a wonderful 2011. A prosperous new year to your blog readers!

  16. This was diner for us last night - I made with veggie chappatis - Always a winner and uber healthy too :)

  17. I am ready for a plate of rajma chawal anytime! :)

    love ur space here.

  18. Delicious looking rajma curry, luv ur version

  19. wow...yum n delicious...simply amazing..u r clicks awesome dear...i love to follow u..

  20. Hi Manasi

    Your blog is too good. Have just become your follower just now. You have a great collection of recipes. Rajma Curry looks yum.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  21. Oh that rajma looks fantastic! To me, good food is what gives me comfort and fills my soul as well as my belly.

  22. Manasi, what a great recipe! It is full of health and goodness, and most importantly, it is a recipe that was able to make your best friend smile again! Thicker gravies like the one in your rajma-chaval combo are definitely more appealing than thin watery ones, and also, they are more flavoursome and you need just a little to satisfy you. For expert tips and suggestions on healthy eating habits, check out http://knorratseven.blogspot.com/.

  23. Nice picture and rajma curry looks awesome.U have a wonderuful space.Do drop by
    when u find time


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