Wednesday 8 December 2010


I've had a busy week, and I have been cooking non-stop thanks to a glut of birthdays. So I reached a point where I just didn't feel like spending hours in the kitchen. Not that I spend hours there normally, but, you know! I still need to get dinner out to the table, but I want to do it quickly and with minimum fuss. At the same time it has to be nutritious and appealing to the young and the old in the family.

This is where rajma or red kidney bean curry really has its moment. Its a simple tomato based sauce, delicately spiced with a hint of heat at the end. Most Indian households will have a recipe for this delicious side dish. We are lucky enough here that we don't need to cook the beans from scratch as they come in tins, making this a store cupboard staple as well. I always have kidney beans, chickpeas, passata or diced tomatoes in the pantry, and there are times when they make my life immeasureably easier.

This version of rajma is very lightly spiced and not super hot. If you want it spicier, increase the green chillies and the red chilly powder and sprinkle over julienned ginger strips as garnish. I prefer to keep it simple with a sprinkle of fresh coriander at the end. This recipe works better with strained tomatoes or passata as it adds a rich red colour to the curry, but feel free to substitute with just fresh tomatoes instead.

Traditionally, rajma is eaten with rice (rajma - chawal) but I serve this rajma with couscous, saving even more time and energy.


(Printable Recipe)

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or 1 inch ginger and 2 flakes garlic, grated)
1 small hot green chilly, finely chopped
2 medium fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 cup strained tomatoes, or Italian passata or tinned chopped tomatoes (I use passata)
1 tin red kidney beans (around 400g)
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish


Heat the oil, then add the diced onions. Fry the onions till very lightly coloured, then add the ginger garlic paste and the chopped green chilly. Fry for another minute, then toss in the chopped fresh tomatoes.

Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the ground coriander, cumin, garam masala and chilli powder. Fry for 3 minutes, and then add the 1 cup passata. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir well, and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes, until the masala comes together.

Into this masala, stir in the kidney beans, including any liquid, straight from the tin. Heat gently for 3 minutes or until the beans are heated through, then taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle over the fresh coriander to garnish, and serve with rice, couscous or naan.


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