When I first came to US in 2006, I was a 1st grader in the art of cooking. Somehow, I managed to cook a few recipes that mother had taught me before leaving India. I have to admit, I did not like cooking then. Today is a completely different story.
A few weeks ago, I read “how to cook & fail miserably” a brilliantly written post by one of my younger brother’s friend. And I was reminded of my first year as a student in a foreign land. Things are very different when you start living away from home. There are many new things to learn (along with courses at school) & cooking is one of them. Red Bean curry or Rajma is the easiest lunch/dinner dish for students coming from India with little cooking experience. I am going to try my best to note down all the steps & some tips in case something goes wrong (with the taste & not burnt food or fire at your place ;)).
Mandatory ingredients – 2 Canned red beans, 2-3 Tomatoes, 1 Onion, Turmeric powder, Garam Masala powder.
Good to have ingredients (for better taste) – 2-3 cloves of Garlic, 5-6 thai green chilies (you can use 2-3 Jalapeños as well), Red chili powder, Coriander powder, Lemon juice.
- Chop all the vegetables (small pieces if possible) & keep aside.
- Heat oil in pan. You can add little bit of Jeera (whole Jeera & not the powder) to check if it’s heating.
- Add Garlic & Green chillies to the hot oil.
- When you see Garlic turning a little brown, add onion to the pan.
- Once onion turns pinkish or transparent, add tomatoes. You can add both onions & tomatoes together if you like.
- Let the tomatoes cook for 2 mins & add 1/2 cup of water.
- Add salt (according to taste) , 1/2 spoon Tumeric powder, 1/2 spoon or more red chili powder, 1/2 spoon coriander powder & 1/2 spoon Garam Masala. Look at the picture below for spoon size. You can approximate accordingly.
- Open the cans of red beans & strain out the liquid. I prefer not to use it.
- Mix the red beans with sautéed veggies.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water to soak the beans in gravy. Here we are trying to immerse the flavor in the beans.
- Cover the pan & cook the curry on medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until water is reduced to half.
- Once done, taste the flavor. Add masalas or salt as required.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice (if you desire little bit of sour taste).
- Canned beans are pre-cooked & hence easier for students to use (No soaking overnight business). I use them all the time. People say they are high in sodium content. You can try to get low sodium cans but I am not too concerned.
- If you feel you have added more salt than required, add a few drops of lemon juice to the curry. This will balance out the salt.
- You can use the same recipe for Chick peas curry (Indian Chole). Only difference would be using Chole masala instead of garam masala if you want the authentic chole taste.
- You can also buy a food chopper to help with all the cutting.