Punjabi-style rajma remains my favourite Indian way of making beans but when you cook beans as often as I do it’s difficult to resist changing things up. The major form these departures take for me tend to do with the mix and proportion of spices. While I do very much enjoy the robust blend of spices that goes into proper rajma (really very well achieved by using a commercial rajma masala mix—affiliate link), bean recipes that emphasize particular spices work very well too. Such, for example, was the recipe I posted almost exactly a year ago for white beans with cumin and ginger. This recipe is, as you will see, built on the same template—except instead of the darker, richer flavour of cumin in the spice mix there is the floral scent of coriander seed. The cumin comes in at the end roasted and powdered and sprinkled over the finished dish. It all comes together very well for a perfect bow of winter beans. Give it a go: you won’t regret it.
I made this with one of my favourite beans from Rancho Gordo: the Christmas Limas; I think the savoury flavour of those beans works really well with spices. If you don’t have any at hand the recipe will also work very well with almost any of their beans, though I’d particularly recommend something like the Moro or, for a different look, one of the white beans.
- 1 pkt Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima beans, rinsed
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 3 dried red chillies
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tspn freshly pounded garlic
- 1.5 tspns freshly pounded ginger
- 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- The following ground to a fine powder: 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1 tspn black peppercorn
- 1 tblspn Rancho Gordo pineapple vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tblspn jaggery or dark brown sugar
- 1 tspn cumin seeds, lightly toasted, cooled and ground to a coarse powder
- 1-2 tblspns chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Water as needed
- Place the beans in your bean pot of choice, add enough water to cover by a few inches, bring to a hard boil and hold there for 10 minutes. Add more water to cover by a few inches again, bring back to a low simmer and cook, covered, till the beans are almost done (yielding to the tooth but not soft).
- While the beans are cooking prepare the masala as follows:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the cinnamon and dried chillies.
- When the chillies puff and the cinnamon begins to unfurl or turns fragrant add the onions and salt and saute for 7-10 minutes till the onions are browned.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
- Add the haldi and ground spices and saute for another minute or two, stirring constantly to keep anything from scorching.
- Add the vinegar and jaggery, mix in and saute till the oil separates.
- Add the contents of the skillet to the bean pot and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. The beans should just be peeking over the pot liquor when finished.
- Transfer to your serving dish and sprinkle the ground roasted cumin over.
- Garnish with the dhania/cilantro and serve with rice or chapatis or just in a bowl with a twist of lime.
- This is very good even before you add the cumin—though if you leave it out you’ll have to change the name.
- You could saute the onions even longer till they are a darker brown for a richer base flavour.
- Resist the temptation to raise the heat by adding more chillies. This is nicely balanced as is.