We mentioned last week that we’ve stocked up on a lot of beans during this pandemic, because they’re a durable and versatile vegetarian staple. But once we’d unloaded all our beans at home, we realized we needed to find some interesting ways to cook them – because while rice and beans can certainly be delicious, we also need some variety in our lives. That’s why we were so excited to find this recipe in the New York Times for rajma, which comes from northern India and Nepal. It’s a dish made with red beans in a thick spiced sauce, sometimes with coconut milk or cream mixed in. This version uses cheese instead to give the beans a little bit of richness, and while that might seem odd in an Indian meal it really comes out good, like an interesting melding of culinary traditions.
To make this, you’ll need:
First, cut your onion into four equal wedges and set three of those wedges aside. Take the remaining wedge and chop it in a food processor with your jalapeño, a dice-sized peeled piece of ginger, and 4 garlic cloves until you have a smooth mixture. Place this in a large cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until your mixture turns firm and starts to brown.
Then add all your beans to the skillet, along with 1/2 teaspoon of chile powder, and stir everything together.
Mix in your tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder, then cut your mozzarella into cubes and place them all over the beans.
Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese on top browns.
While the rajma is in the oven, cook some basmati rice by mixing a cup of rice with 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bringing everything to a boil, then turning the heat down to a simmer and letting the rice sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes, until it’s fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed.
Also, take the rest of your onion and slice it thinly. Place the slices in a bowl, heat 1/2 cup of water to boiling, and then pour the water over the onion. Mix in a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of curry powder, a large pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup of vinegar. Let this sit until the beans are done.
When you’re ready to eat, fish the onion slices out of their marinade and serve on top of the rajma, with rice on the side.
We’d never heard of rajma before we made this recipe, since it’s not commonly found on restaurant menus, but we really enjoyed this recipe. It was a good way to use up some of our beans, and we liked the interesting flavors that came from preparing an Indian meal with an Italian cheese. Rice and beans are pretty filling, so this was also a very hearty meal that came out warm and delicious with all the spices that went into the recipe. Iff you’re like us and have a bunch of beans on your hand right now, try out this rajma one night – it’s a nice break from simple rice and beans.