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Rajmah/Indian kidney bean chili

Two protein- and fiber-rich go to foods that we make at home quite often are "Rajmah," or Indian Chili, and "Chole," or Garbanzo beans. Both of these are quick to make, delicious and super nutritious! As a stew, all one needs is a steaming bowl of rice (brown, white or wild) or Chapatis (Indian bread), and a simple fresh salad to complete the meal.

Red kidney beans can be bought as dried beans from the store, then soaked overnight and cooked in the pressure cooker thereafter. Of course, a quick alternative are the canned variety, which really save time. But with considerable concerns over the chemical products that leach out of cans, especially the plastic lining of the cans, it is worthwhile buying the dried variety and soaking overnight. Another way to have these at hand anytime during the week, is to soak and pressure cook these over the weekend and store in a container in the refrigerator. You will see as you read the recipe how easy it is to dish up a wholesome meal with these. Also, whether buying dried or canned varieties, you could stock the pantry with different kinds of beans and mix them to make a colorfully vibrant chili!

Despite being a former scientist who diligently created and worked with protocols, science in the kitchen for me has been the exact opposite. I often use variations and almost never use measures, unless it involves bakery products. And the freedom is exhilarating!! I have, therefore, given approximations in the recipe below. You can experiment, make the dish more spicy or less, if you do not fancy onions much, you could use them or not, if you need to have a more piquant taste, you could use more ketchup or diced tomatoes, etc. And of course, anytime you have a question, email me or send in your comment, and I will respond.


Kidney beans (dried, 1 cup or 2 cans)

Either 1 cup diced tomatoes (any kind) or 3 tbsps Ketchup.

Onion: 1

Ginger: 1/2″

Bay Leaf: 1

Black Peppercorns: 5 nos.

Paprika or Cayenne pepper



Green chili: 1

Olive/Canola/Peanut oil

Mediterranean Blend from Aromatic Spice Blends: 5 tsp.


If using dried beans, wash them twice in double the quantity of water and soak them until they are thoroughly submerged under water in a big container. A word of caution: these absorb water and swell and have a tendency to roll over the container if the container is too small :) . Soak overnight. The next day, drain the beans and immerse them in water once more. If you have a pressure cooker, then continue with the following:

Slice the onions and slit one green chili in half. Grate 1/4 ” piece of ginger. Add all these to the immersed, happy and fat beans. Add one bay leaf and a 5 black peppercorns to the above.

Pressure cook until the pressure has been released 6 times, then leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to sit on the cooking range until cooled down. In the absence of a pressure cooker, cook the beans in sufficient (and more) water on high heat until the water boils; then add all the ingredients as in the prior step and allow to simmer (covered) for about an hour until the beans are tender and cooked through. Notice the aromas around the kitchen at this time. Heavenly, sweet, and oh so good!

After the beans are cooked, you could either refrigerate them for use within a week, or continue with the recipe.

Heat some oil (olive, canola or regular peanut oil tastes wonderful). Grate the remaining ginger into this oil (do not let this burn). Saute until heated through and you smell the sweetness of the ginger. Now in go the cooked beans. Stir. Make sure there is sufficient liquid with beans (if not, add some water) or they will stick to the bottom of the pan and the flavor will not be that great!

Add paprika or cayenne pepper (based on your preference), a pinch of tumeric and 5 tsps (or more if you like) of Aromatic Spice Blends Mediterranean Blend. Sitr.

If using diced tomatoes, add them now, saute till they melt into the onion mixture. Add a tsp of sugar to this.

Otherwise, add 3 tbsp of tomato ketchup (if you need the end results to be more tangy or less, add more or less…experiment!!). Stir this in, taste test to check for the salt. If you need more salt, add regular or sea salt to taste.

If, on the other hand, you are using canned beans, add the onions, ginger (all of the grated ginger), black pepper corns, turmeric and green chili to the hot oil. Let the onions soften (not brown), then add the beans to this mixture. Continue to follow the recipe to add the Spice blend, paprika /cayenne, tomatoes and sugar or ketchup and salt.

Note: The best way to eat this is either with rice or chapatis. Or on its own sprinkled with shredded Mexican cheese and some fresh lime juice. As a meal, diced cucumbers, onion and tomato with some chopped cilantro, lime juice, finely sliced green chillies, salt and sugar, makes a good salad to go along with this hearty bean stew. Enjoy!

Photo Credits:

Sachin Patke www.sachinphotography.com

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