Rajma is a delicious creamy red bean curry that is a treasured comfort food and a beloved street food. Red kidney beans are called rajma and the best rajma are the tiny red beans from Kashmir. When we got our hands on a small amount of Kashmir Thin Skin Beans for the bean club we knew we needed to make Kashmiri Rajma. The recipe works just as well with Sangre De Torro. 

There is much debate about what makes Kashmiri Rajma different from other Rajmas. Some use onions some don't, some use curd (yogurt), some don't even use tomato, but to be Kashmiri Rajma it always uses Kashmiri Chili, a bright red chili known for its vibrant red color. It's the Kashmiri chili powder that gives tandoori its signature hue. It lends to this Rajma not just color but also complex flavors with very little heat. Please note that it is not completely devoid of heat. When an Indian person tells you "Kashmiri Chili has NO heat" keep in mind that your friend is Indian and likely eats things that would melt a spoon. I would call it a very mild heat. The fresh chilis deliver the real punch and your choice of chilis and how much you use allows you to control the spice level.

Serve this with batsmati rice. We served ours with Indra's Rice with deeply caramelized onions and cumin seeds, highly recommended.

Kashmiri Rajma Spices

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dry red kidney beans like Sangre De Toro or if you are lucky enough to be in our bean club, Kashmiri Thin Skin Beans
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup onion; diced
  • 1 diced fresh chili (this is the heat of the dish depending on the chili you choose)
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup cilantro leaves, large stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder 
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons oil 

Directions

  1. Kashmiri Rajma Recipe
    Cook the beans in water with a teaspoon of salt and one bay leaf. You can soak them overnight and cook on the stovetop until soft and silky (approximately an hour) or you could cook them in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes from dry with bay leaf, salt, and enough water to cover the beans by an inch. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Put the tomato and cilantro in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate thick bottom pot, melt the ghee or oil until a cumin seed sizzles when dropped in. Add the cumin seed and toast for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chopped onion and chili pepper and saute until translucent. 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree, ginger, garam masala, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, turmeric, and salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes until well combined.
  6. With a slotted spoon add a cup of the beans to the tomato curry. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until you have a mostly smooth sauce.
  7. In a small bowl add a couple of tablespoons of the bean curry mixture to the yogurt and mix well. Slowly add a few more tablespoons of the bean mixture, stirring constantly. Then add the yogurt back into the pot and stir to combine. This is to keep the yogurt from curdling when it hits the heat and acid in the tomato mixture.
  8. Add the beans with their cooking liquid to the pot and turn up the heat to high. Boil the Rajma for 5-10 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt and spice levels. If it's too spicy serve with yogurt.
  9. Serve this with basmati rice, chopped cilantro, yogurt, and chopped chilis. We served ours with Indra's Rice. Her incredible basmati rice recipe with deeply caramelized onions and cumin seed is highly recommended.

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