When I moved to Delhi for my PhD, I entered a whole new world of culinary experiences. It was a melting pot of different food cultures, where I imbibed influences from Bengali, North-East Indian, South Indian and Tibetan cuisines. Some of the preparations from the local Punjabi cuisine became my favorite too, like paranthas (stuffed unleavened breads) and Rajma masala (curried preparation of red kidney beans which strongly resembles chili, but doesn’t have any meat). Even if now I am faraway from Delhi, this Michigan winter still makes me crave for some of those rich foods. So, I thought today’s lunch could be of Rajma masala, and accordingly soaked a cup of red kidney beans in water last night.
However, apart from being food-lover and cook, I am also a working woman. So between my sojourns in the kitchen, I also have certain writing projects lined up. A conventional Rajma masala recipe could be quite time-consuming. Its essence depends on how beans blend in and exchange their flavors with its base of onion and tomato gravy. To get that effect in the open pan method, one has to stir fry chopped onions and tomatoes to their almost caramelized, golden paste perfection. And man, that does take some patience…
But at least today I couldn’t have mustered so much time and energy. So I took the inspiration from pressure-cooked one-pot version from here instead. I gathered in my pressure cooker pot, soaked Rajma, chopped onions and tomatoes, dried fenugreek leaves, julienned ginger, garlic, thinly sliced green chilli, a teaspoon each of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, salt, and two pinches of asafoetida. To this I added two cups of vegetable stock which I had prepared yesterday and some water. At the very end, I squirted a teaspoon of olive oil upon it and put the cooker on stove with weight. Like the recipe mentioned , I went along with 18-20 of cooker whistles. When the steam let off on its own, I opened the cooker to a thick rich gravy and fully cooked beans. Into that, I just added some chat masala which is a mix of powdered dried mango, cumin, ginger, and salt. If you don’t have it, you can use lemon juice instead. We had this curry with quinoa, rather than a traditional long grained basmati rice, as it was a workweek lunch.
I was especially happy with the creaminess of the curry because I could attained it with just a teaspoon of olive oil. Usually the restaurant versions (and even some home-cooked ones) would use butter and fresh cream for this effect… I guess, sometimes you just have to trust your pressure cooker and let the magic happen 🙂