Rajma (red kidney beans) is rich and iron and protein when it is combined with rice (chawal) it is a great source of carbohydrates. So it makes a flavourful, wholesome meal that is simple yet delicious.
It is believed that the beans were never really grown in India. So how did the not-so-native beans become an intrinsic part of our meals?
They travelled all the way from Mexico with the Portuguese who introduced them to Europe and finally, reached the Indian coast. The southwestern coast saw the incoming of traders and travellers who settled there and brought with them, these kidney beans or rajma.
Gradually, Indians started adapting them to their cuisine and the rest is history. Little did we know that what was once a foreign addition to our diet would be so well-accepted in our culture that we would have a huge variety of beans growing in different parts of the country.
Rajma is traditionally made with onions and tomato purée which acts as a gravy for the red beans. It is flavoured with a variety of spices such as chilli peppers, cinnamon, bay leaves, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cumin.
You will find this curry served at hotels, parties, weekend brunches and at local Punjabi Dhabas.
For most parts of North India, rajma chawal is not simply a meal but an emotion. It is the comfort food of many and brings smiles to tons of faces when in low spirits.
The small-sized red rajma from Kashmir is different from the white ones produced in the hills of Uttarakhand. Even the Northeast has its own speciality of rajma that is commonly used in meals.
In Punjab, favourite ones are the light-brown beans that swell after being cooked and are paired with rice and called Rajma Chawal.