Of Sunday afternoons and Rajma Chawal
Ask any Punjabi worth his salt what did they eat for Sunday lunch and the answer in 90% of the cases would be Rajma Chawal.
I too like most of them have many fond memories of Sunday's spent eating Rajma chawal by the window of the house while looking at the clock and wondering when will it be 4pm so that we can quickly exit the house and off to play, or eating rajma chawal while watching movie on the rented VCR, or eating rajma chawal while immersed in a book or eating rajma chawal just while talking to the family. The constant in the Sunday , always was the Rajma Chawal.
The rajma chawal would almost always be served with a lacha onion salad and some curd, thin rings of onions lighlty pickled in vinegar/lemon juice for a couple of hours and spiced with salt, chilli and jeera. Crunch of onions inbetween those of bites of Rajma Chawal, it almost tastes of childhood for me.
It was almost like a sacred Sunday routine, so much so that at one point I revolted against it, growing up I pretty much revolted against any routine that mum tried to bring in our lives, yes I was that painful pain in the backside teenager and when mum tells me that Ojas is showing all signs of taking her revenge on me, I am filled with a kind of dread that I can't even describe, but like they say take life as it comes, I am waiting for it to hit with all force till such time I indulgence myself in the hugs I get
And who can forget the numerous meals of Rajma Chawal you have had from roadside stalls if you grew up in Delhi. I remember the ones at Nehru place specially used to be popular, no trip to Nehru Place (oh and there were many to get our computer assembled, you remember ?) used to be complete without a plate of steaming hot Rajma Chawal. I haven't gone there in a while and I wonder if those guys are still around, may be should do a check next trip home.
As I grew up, moved away from my house and got married to a south Indian, somewhere the Sunday routine of Rajma Chawal also dulled though. We all at home LOVE rajma but it isn't a Sunday must anymore (and I have to admit it, it isn't as frequent as I would like it to be may be) and then last week on twitter my timeline was full of Rajma chawal for lunch tweets and as food always tends to bring back the nostalgia in full force I melted and started craving for Rajma chawal big time. I knew last sunday, that next week has to be a Sunday of Rajma Chawal.
The tweet about Rajma Chawal also led to an interesting discussion about Sunday lunch traditions on twitter, it is Mangsho or mutton curry for the Bengalis, Dhansak for the Parsis, someone said generally a thali kind of lunch for Gujaratis. Do you have a Sunday lunch tradition at home? Something that you make most Sundays if not all, something which feels like a meal that brings together the family on the table? Because essentially that is what Sunday lunches used to be years ago. It would be the time when everyone in the family would be available to sit down together for a meal and something special would be whipped up for the same. Something special yet something that doesn't need the women of the house slogging in the kitchen over hours or for many dishes. Tell me if your Sunday lunch story, I would love to hear more
Over time in our mixed household, I feel our Sunday lunch story is heavy turning towards mutton curry (actually any non veg curry, south Indian Style) with idly/dosa. Every Sunday we seem to wake up and crave that for brunch but today I went back to my roots, to my childhood with Rajma Chawal.
And when I made it, I realised I don't have a Rajma recipe on the blog. The thing with Rajma (as with many other things in Indian cuisine) is that each household has its own recipe, every mother makes it their own way and every child feels her mom makes it the best and so do I :) The beauty of Rajma, in my opinion is to let the taste of Rajma shine and not overwhelm the dish with spices. Use a good quality rajma (and oh boy there are many, the favorite at home is Kashmiri Rajma though everything else works with this recipe as well), boil it well (and another tip to have the perfectly boiled rajma without that bite in the end is to soak the Rajma for 8 hours, then boil for one whistle, release the steam forcibly, add half a glass of chilled water and then boil as usual. The hot-cold therapy seems to work wonders for Rajma and I have even boiled them without soaking using this method in cases of sudden Rajma craving), use minimum spices and serve it fresh.
Today I share with you taste of my childhood, won't call it authentic (though it is but then who knows how many more authentic are there) but can assure you that it tastes very very delicious and according to me it is the best rajma recipe that exists ;)
Rajma (Punjabi Style Kidney Beans Curry)
- Wash and soak Rajma overnight or 8 hours, in the morning drain all water and boil in pressure cooker. After one whistle, reduce the heat and let it cook for about 10-12 minutes. This will also depend on the type of rajma you are using. The small kashmiri rajma cooks faster whereas the larger one might take upto 15 minutes to get done. Set aside and let steam escape naturally.
- In a heavy bottom kadhai, heat oil and add jeera seeds and sauté till they turn brown. Add the grated onions and sauté till it turns brown. Stir constantly so that it doesn't stick to the pan.
- Add ginger and sauté further for 2 minutes followed by adding pureed tomato.
- Sauté till the oil starts separates and at this stage add all the dry spices. Sauté for one minute and then add boiled rajma. Initially add only rajma leaving the water behind. Smash some of the rajma to give gravy a little more flavour and body. Let the rajma sauté till 2-3 minutes and add the water in which rajma was boiled. Bring to boil, taste seasoning.
- Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves , lacha onions and jeera/steamed rice. Attain Sunday bliss by following this up with a nap