Indian food sings with gusto. When people say they don’t like it, I totally get it. It might be overkill for the taste buds (…and stomach?). You take one bite and it’s like ZOOM, flavor here, flavor there, flavor…..yes, everywhere. It’s definitely punchy and hot. So much flavor could potentially imply in your brain that it took a many hours to make. But, here’s a little secret. While most Indian food, yes, for sure, requires lots and lots of spices, all you need to do is get them together, simmer them away with a protein or vegetables, and let them do their little flavor dance. Indian food is like a fun spice cumbaya.
That taste goes into your mouth then into your stomach and you’re satisfied on all levels. What could be better? For people who are looking for super easy ways to get delicious bean protein that isn’t frijoles negros or super boring red beans, here is your solution. Simply scatter this terracotta colored stew over some perfect brown rice. Make it even richer by adding a dollop of my kitchen goddess, Greek yogurt.
Or don’t add the yogurt and keep it vegan. This dish is the picture of health, and what’s best about it is that once you make it, it can be stored in the fridge and the flavors will marinate together and meld themselves even closer to heaven. This sort of reminds me of a spicier and vegetarian red bean chili. Easy peasy. Wait, these aren’t peas… let’s make it easy beansy instead.
Rajmah (red kidney bean curry)
Adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker
Notes: this recipe can be prepared one of three ways:
1. If you have a slow cooker, wonderful. All ingredients can be dumped together, you can go about your day, and it’ll be ready in a few hours.
2. You can buy canned, ready to go kidney beans, which is just fine. (BUT please note that buying and cooking dried beans yourself (which are cheaper!) will yield a far superior texture and taste to the beans. Up to you and your timetable.)
3. If you get the dried beans, simply soak them overnight in water. In the morning, drain the beans, stick them in a pot to cover with water by two inches. Simmer the beans over medium heat until they are finished, about one hour. Proceed with recipe.
Also, there are a lot of spices to be used, and purchased if you don’t have them. But the way I think about Indian food and spices is this: You get them once, and can use them endlessly to create a wide array of flavorful dishes by only adding beans, another protein, or vegetables, and some garlic and onion. In my eyes, it’s a wise investment.
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped or grated
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 chiles (depending on how spicy you want this – omit if you don’t like too much spice) Thai, serrano, chipotle, or cayenne, seeds and stems removed, chopped (I used dried chipotles)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon red chile powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander (optional)
3 cups cooked red kidney beans or 30 ounces of canned red kidney beans with their water (If doing the slow cooker method, start with dried beans)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
rice or naan bread, for serving
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
Slow cooker method
Start with dried beans, and dump all ingredients in your slow cooker with 9 cups of water, and cook on high for 11 hours.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauce pan. Add ginger, garlic, onion, chiles, and cook for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, salt, and spices and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beans with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook uncovered for ten minutes, adding more water if necessary. Remove from heat, and garnish with cilantro and Greek yogurt.
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