Between being in Delhi (and briefly, Hong Kong) and being back and reporting on meals in Delhi and Hong Kong it’s been a while since I posted a recipe. Here is one that is a riff on how I normally make rajma, or North Indian style red beans.
I don’t usually go about making rajma with cauliflower (though I have been known to make it with kale). This just sort of happened because I had some cauliflower in the fridge that was just beginning to brown and it needed to be used up. But the result was very good and so, like the kind and generous person I am, I am willing to share the recipe with you.
As always with my bean cooking this is made with my friend Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo beans, Yellow Indian Woman beans, to be exact. Not sure what’s going on with the name of that bean but it’s an excellent bean and very well suited for rajma style preps as it holds its shape well and the pot liquor does well with spices.
This, as you will see, is a very simple recipe. It does not call for any esoteric Indian ingredients—you should have all of this in your pantry. It does call for a lot of tomato which results, in combination with the other ingredients, in a tangy and spicy curry. It’s great for beans and rice but with the cauliflower added it’s also a wonderful bean and vegetable stew that you can eat right out of a bowl. Or you can do both those things.
(And just in case it needs repeating: I have no financial relationship with Rancho Gordo.)
- One pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman beans, rinsed
- 1/2 tspn turmeric
- 2-3 cloves
- One large red onion, chopped
- 1 tblspn or so of fresh ginger, grated
- About as much fresh garlic, grated
- The following ground to a coarse powder: 1 tspn cumin seeds, 1/2 tspn coriander seeds, 3 dried hot red chillies, 1/2 tspn black peppercorn, a small piece cinnamon/cassia bark
- 1 lb cauliflower, broken into mid-sized florets
- 1.75 cups of chopped tomato (or one 14.5 oz can of tomatoes)
- A large pinch of sugar
- Put the rinsed beans in a pot with with the turmeric and cloves and water to cover by a few inches. Bring to a rapid boil for 10 minutes or so, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook till almost done. Keep adding water as needed to make sure there’s about 2 inches of water above the beans.
- While the beans are cooking prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onions. Saute for a few minutes over high heat till they begin to brown.
- Add the grated ginger and garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the ground spices and salt, mix well and saute for another minute.
- Add the cauliflower, mix well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and sugar, mix well and cook till the tomatoes have begun to cook down.
- Check the beans for done-ness—you want them to be yielding easily to the bite but not yet very soft in the center. If they’re at this point mash a ladle’s worth of beans against the side of the pot and mix in.
- Add the contents of the skillet to the bean pot, mix thoroughly and let it all cook together on a high simmer for another 15 minutes or so.
- Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve with steamed rice (or just eat it straight out of a bowl).
- I did not soak the beans on this occasion and I have to say it did not add anything to the cooking time to not do so—the beans were done in less than 90 minutes. Can’t say that not soaking made much of a difference to the flavour or texture but it certainly was good to not have to remember to soak them the night before.
- You can certainly just leave the cauliflower out but this makes for a very nice combination. If you’re using the cauliflower you want to make sure you don’t overcook it at either step as it’s better when it still has some crunch—more textural contrast that way and the pot liquor doesn’t become too cauliflowery.
- I realize the amounts for the onion, ginger and garlic are not terribly exact but we’re not cooking meth here: nothing is going to go terribly wrong if the proportions are a bit off here or there.
- In the Minnesota winter I use canned organic, diced tomatoes from Costco. Judge and/or substitute whatever form of tomato you prefer.
- If your dried chillies are not very hot you could up them, I suppose, but remember there’s pepper in there too. You could also reduce the chillies if you don’t want it too hot. I use dried chiles de arbol and it gets quite hot with three if eating without rice.
- You can also leave the bean part out and then you have a recipe for a very nice cauliflower dish—though maybe add some water after the tomatoes have cooked down.