The first time I tried cooking Rajma was when Vidya came over to my place in 1988 :). We were in our second year of college at Wesley and one Sunday, she came over instead of my going over to her place. I was staying alone and didn’t know that you had to soak the beans overnight … the darned thing wouldn’t cook ! We finally had some vegetable rice.
Amma had never made Rajma at home, but I loved it. Don’t remember where I ate it first. Good chances are that I ate it at my school friend Jasjot’s house in Dehu Road. Jasjot was a Sardar’s daughter and obviously it was delicious.
After marriage I forgot about Rajma for a few years because my mother-in-law introduced me to a whole range of South Indian delicacies that kept me busy and happy. Once we shifted to Delhi, suddenly it re-entered my life.
I had become a competent cook by then and would make Rajma, Chole and other North Indian delicacies frequently. Krishnan loves them too, so its easy to add them to the menu. Every now and then the Rajma wouldn’t cook well and I learnt that if its old grains, they don’t get fully cooked !!
The other thing I learnt more recently is to pressure cook them separately without the spices, salt and other condiments. That way they cook really fast and become melt in the mouth kind.
Yet another recent discovery is about the number of colours that this wonder bean comes in .. see the pic below –
Cooking Beans and Lentils
A few tips in general while cooking beans and lentils –
- Soak them overnight, especially Rajma and Chana (kidney beans and Chickpeas).
- Cook them in a large vessel with lots of water for a few minutes and remove the foam. Do read my earlier blog – Traditional Wisdom & Modern Cooking Tools.
- Pressure cook the beans and lentils without any spices, salt or condiments. You can store them in the freezer for several weeks once they are mushy and well cooked. It saves a lot of time and heartache especially when you have sudden guests.
Enjoy the varieties of beans and lentils that we get in India and the lip smacking dishes made using them across the country. Also get a dose of plant protein that doesn’t harm the environment or your health.