It has been a while since I last posted a recipe for beans. It’s been almost a year, in fact; I don’t know how you’ve all coped. That recipe was for North Indian style rajma or red beans, cooked, in a bit of a twist, with cauliflower. Cauliflower aside, that was a simpler variation on the very first recipe I posted on the blog, for a more classic rajma preparation. This one is simpler still: there are no esoteric ingredients here (depending on how often you use powdered turmeric) and it’s not a very fussy prep. The result, however, is very tasty. It would probably be less tasty if you were to use beans from a source other than Rancho Gordo (full disclosure: the proprietor, Steve Sando, is one of my proteges). Their vaquero bean is what I used here—the colour and markings make for a striking presentation. And its texture and ability to hold its shape makes it perfect for the pressure cooker (which I deployed here as I was a bit pressed for time). You’re probably more modern than I am and have an Instant Pot; it should be easy enough for you to figure out how to adapt this recipe for it. But if you have time, the results will be even better if you just cook it long and slow on the stove.
- 1 lb Rancho Gordo Vaquero Beans or similar
- One small stick cinnamon or cassia bark
- 1/2 tspn haldi/powdered turmeric
- 1 large red onion, chopped finely
- 3/4 tblspn grated ginger root
- 3/4 tblspn grated garlic
- The following ground to a coarse powder: 2-3 dried red chillies, 3/4 tblspn cumin seeds, 3/4 tblspn coriander seeds
- One 14.5 oz can of organic tomatoes or equivalent amount of chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 lb small round potatoes
- Salt to taste
- A pinch of sugar
- A little cilantro for garnish
- Rinse the beans, add 4 cups of water, the turmeric and cinnamon and cook till the beans are just yielding to the tooth. In my stone age Indian pressure cooker (Prestige!) this amounts to about 25 minutes on medium-low heat after the first whistle (for unsoaked beans). I’m told Instant Pots don’t whistle or seem like they’re going to explode—I don’t know how you people can trust them.
- While the beans are cooking, heat some oil in another pot and saute the chopped onion till it begins to brown around the edges.
- Then add the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute or two till the raw smell is gone.
- Add the powdered spices, mix thoroughly and saute for another minute or two over medium heat.
- Add the tomatoes, salt and the pinch of sugar and cook down till the oil begins to separate.
- Now add the whole potatoes and mix in thoroughly.
- By this point the beans should be ready. Lower the pressure in your cooker (I run cold water over it in the sink) and add the beans with all the cooking liquid to the second pot. Mix thoroughly and add more water if the liquid doesn’t come up an inch or two over the mixture.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, till the potatoes are done. The gravy/sauce should be thickened but easily pourable.
- Garnish with the cilantro and serve with parathas or over rice.
- You’re on your own with the Instant Pot conversion but if you manage it please post in the comments below.
- If you’re not in a hurry, you should cook the whole slowly. You could do this in one of two different ways: 1) add the uncooked beans after the tomatoes have cooked down, add enough water and simmer, covered, till almost done and then add the potatoes and more water if necessary and cook till the potatoes are done—in this scenario start by putting the cinnamon in the oil before the onions and add the powdered turmeric with the other spices; or 2) a slower version of this recipe: cook the beans (with the turmeric and cinnamon) slowly, when almost done start everything else, then combine and cook till done.
- The potatoes are entirely optional but I like the textural contrast (and the potatoes taste damned good too in the finished dish). Use the smallest, round potatoes you can find. I don’t bother peeling them but you could certainly do it. Tiny salad turnips would make for a good variation too (perhaps even better).