Saturday, January 18, 2014

Curried Red Kidney Beans and Cauliflower (Rajma Masala)

Maja and I are big fans of Indian cooking. We always remember curries and other amazing dishes we had on our trip to India. Just like everything else in India (sounds, sights, smells), a lot of Indian dishes are cooked to evoke maximum sensory experience. Of course the main thing which stands out in Indian cooking is the use of many fresh, aromatic spices, which give the food those wonderful smells and tastes.

This is a very simple, vegetarian recipe we've cobbled together from others on the web, which still has a nice spicy kick to it. It's best if you can have fresh spices and grind them just before using them, but that's not absolutely necessary.

- vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 onion
- 1 small cinnamon stick (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger (ginger powder also works)
- 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds
- 3 green cardamom pods, cracked open and ground
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala spice (if you don't have it, you can easily make it yourself; just google simple garam masala recipe)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) or fresh whole tomatoes, cut into slices or cubes
- 1 minced serrano chile (2 dry chili peppers work too; you can add more if you like your dishes to be hotter)
- 6 cups of cooked red kidney beans (you can drain them before using them, or you can add the liquid too and adjust cooking time for the liquid to condense)
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch florets
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of loosely packed cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
- 6 to 8 cups of hot cooked rice

- Before starting, it's good to prepare, grind, measure,, and combine all spices and ingredients. Once you start cooking, it is hard to prepare them on time, and it's easy to skip an ingredient.
- Heat oil in a big saucepan over medium-high heat
- Add onion and fry until it's translucent
- Stir in cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, fennel, cumin, and cardamom and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes
- Add cayenne, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala and fry, stirring, for 1 minute
- Stir in tomatoes
- Stir in serrano chile, kidney beans, cauliflower, and 1 1/2 cups of water (or you could use chicken stock, if you are not a strict vegetarian)
- Lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until cauliflower is tender and liquid has thickened into a thick sauce (add more water if necessary). Stir occasionally. I like to cook it for an hour or longer. You should be fine as long as there is enough liquid and it's not burning.

- Add salt if necessary (I usually don't add much salt at this point)
- Stir in lemon juice and cilantro
- Serve with rice and plain yogurt on the side (recommended since the dish has a lot of spices and you will want something to cut the spiciness)


The original recipe can be found here:

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