I haven’t blogged seriously in a while. No really, I know I have not.
Can I blame it on posts of wrongly prepared condiments which nauseated me enough to make me stop blogging and wonder where I went wrong?
I’m no Bourdain. Not Nigella either. Or Alton.
But I do love my condiments.
And I love thunderstorms.
Which brings us to Kolkata, my lovely city right now, where every evening is a thunderstorm waiting to happen. Today I was coming back, hauling my brand new HP Pavilion g6 (Finally! I get to upgrade to an I3 and get a 1 GB dedicated Graphic Ram too!!) from City Center II with the Fatherland, and on our way back we faced one of the worst thunderstorm I have seen. We could not drive the car so we had to park the car for a while as there were large pieces of ice bouncing off our windscreen along with torrential rains. Twice we nearly collided with another car as our visibility was near zero, and after every few seconds the crashing sound of thunder would reverberate through the open space.
Okay, enough poetry. I came back home, drenched, with my brand new computer secured safely inside a backpack and made Rajma Chawal.
When I was a little tiny girl of seven I had Rajma for the first time at a neighbor’s house. The neighbor was Marwari and cooked like a dream. I was in love with kidney beans. And as I turned 11, one of the first things I learned how to cook (after reading a huge number of books and equal number of recipes from old magazines, newspaper and whatnot) was a steaming bowl of Rajma. In days to come I am sure I will cook other versions of this dish, but here was today’s “unprepared” version.
Take around 200-250 gms kidney beans (Rajma) and soak them overnight if possible. Wasn’t possible for me, so I pressure cooked it for 20 minutes extra to get it soft enough. By the way, a pinch of baking soda, one chopped onion, 500 ml water and a big pinch of salt went inside the pressure cooker and the beans were cooked till they were soft but not mushy. They held their shape. Retained their character, so as to say.
Heat 4 tablespoon oil in a thick bottomed vessel, and fry a large pinch of shahi jeera (Caraway seeds), 3 cardamom pods (bruised slightly with the back of your pestle), 1 stick cinnamon and a few peppercorns. Let cook for at least a minute on medium high heat before adding 2 onions, chopped. Meanwhile, add 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste to the cooked beans and take out 1 cup of it and blend it with the aid of a blender, your hand, the back of a thick ladle or other means. Now either add 3 tomatoes pureed or 100 ml tomato puree (choice is yours) to the cooking vessel along with 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, 3 tablespoon Rajma Masala and a large pinch of sugar.
What!! You don’t have Rajma Masala in your kitchen?
How have you lived all your life you ignorant person? I have kept the damn thing in my kitchen ever since I was 12 and I use it all the time.
Okay, you don’t have it.
No biggie. Mix 2 teaspoon of garam masala (I like the Shahi Garam Masala that you get from Everest and Sunrise but feel free) with 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder to make Rajma Masala.
Back to the drawing board.
Now while you are cooking Rajma I hope you have something ready to eat this with. What? You Don’t! The insolence!! Cook some rice, or make a bunch of Rotis, or knock yourself out and toast some thick cut bread. I am not picky but I refuse to eat this protein rich deliciousness without carbs and fat.
Okay! Where were we?
So you add the Rajma Masala and the tomato puree and let the mixture cook till the oil starts separating from it. This will take a couple of minutes or so, but once that happens, dump in your beans along with the cooking liquid, give a few half-hearted stirs and then leave the bloody kitchen. You have no work there do you?
Unless you are cooking the rice or making those rotis or toasting the bread. Wait! The toasting comes during the last 5 minutes, so if you have option C, scoot. Scram. Kapoot Draconis.
It shows that I am writing this at 5 a.m. in the morning.
Anyway, once your beans have cooked to a lovely shimmery glossy beauty here is what you do. If, of course, you are serving it with rice and making PROPER Rajma Chawal.
Throw some hot cooked rice inside a bowl. This here food is messy so bowl is better than plate.
Scoop some rice in the bowl.
Pour a tiny lug of ghee (That’s clarified butter, and if you don’t get it in your part of the world, or you just want your damn food, you can add butter or skip this step altogether.
However, for the greater benefit of mankind and you, I beg of you not to.
Cover with some of the Rajma.
Now comes the evil bit.
Mix everything together.
And then again top with some more of the beans.
And eat. However, be careful as the damn thing is HOT.