Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rajma Daal

This rich and dense rajma (red kidney bean) daal is unbelievably meaty and has enough body and complexity to be the main course in any meal. It is not an everyday daal and it has to simmer long and slow, so I always end up making a large amount to justify the cooking time. But other than an occasional stir after all the ingredients are gathered in a pot, the daal pretty much comes together by itself—all of which adds to its allure. It’s perfect accompanied by steaming rice on a cool spring night as you bid adieu to the frigid temps of winter.

7½ lbs [3½ kgs] canned Red Kidney Beans
2 small Onions (chopped)
2 Tomatoes (chopped)
6 bay leaves
2 whole Cloves
2 whole Cardamom pods
2 sticks Cinnamon
1 tbsp Garlic (finely minced)
1 tsp Ginger (finely minced)
4 tbsp plus 1 tsp Ghee
Salt (to taste)
1 quart [1 litre] Water
2 tbsp whole Cumin
  1. Drain and wash beans thoroughly. Set aside 1½ lbs of beans and transfer the remaining 6 lbs of beans to a large stockpot. 
  2. Add onions, tomatoes, 4 bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, 4 tbsp ghee, salt and water to the pot, and bring to a brisk boil over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 3½–4 hrs, occasionally stirring the pot to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. About 2 hrs into the cooking process, add the remaining 1½ lbs of beans. This ensures that some of the beans remain whole at the end, adding to the texture of the finished daal. Turn off heat as the finishing spices are prepared. 
  3. In a small skillet heat 1 tsp ghee over medium-high heat, add remaining 2 bay leaves and cumin and let them sputter for about a minute. Lower heat, add 2-3 ladles of cooked daal to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then pour the spiced daal mixture into the large stockpot with the rest of the daal and stir well to incorporate. Allow the flavours to steep for 30 mins. Serve hot with rice.

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