Red beans in tomato & Cilantro-lime rice


I think the category of ‘bean and rice’ would encompass almost 90% of the meals that I cook and I do not complain at all. Rather, I rejoice it and am thankful for the pantry full of different beans and pulses. All it takes is some overnight soaking, which is hardly labor-intensive. If you forget that, you can always go for split lentils and pulses. Having a pressure cooker further reduces the cooking time. So no wonder that I keep making it. Plus, there is such a diversity of flavor profiles across different cooking cultures. For example, same staples that I used this time for a Mexican bean-rice bowl, can be used for making Indian rajma-chawal. You just need to pick the flavor of the day, and then choose the spices and condiments accordingly. So today, we go South…



For red beans in tomato:

1 cup dried red/ kidney beans
3-4 tomatoes
1 onion
1-2 teaspoons of chili powder
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 tablespoon of crushed dried oregano herb
Salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons oil

For cilantro-lime rice:

1 cup rice
1-2 cloves of garlic
2-4 green chili peppers (depends on your liking)
Bunch of cilantro
Lime juice to taste
Salt to taste


For read beans in tomato:

  1. Wash and soak the beans overnight.
  2. Cook the beans with enough water till beans are cooked tender, but not mushy. The water in which beans are cooked can be later used as the stock in this prep. So save it 🙂
  3. In pot, heat oil, and fry chopped garlic till fragrant.
  4. Add thinly chopped onion to it and sauté till it turns translucent.
  5. Add cumin powder and chili powder to the onion. Sauté for a minute and two and add cooked beans and mix properly.
  6. Make a puree of tomatoes and add it to the beans pot along with salt and oregano.
  7. Once the tomatoes loose their raw flavor, you can add the beans stock that we had save earlier and some more water, based on the desired consistency.
  8. Let the beans simmer on low-medium heat for 5-10 more minutes and then take off the stove.

For cilantro-lime rice:

  1. Wash and cook rice per instruction.
  2. Thinly chop green chili peppers and garlic cloves. Further grind them to coarse consistency in mortar and pestle, with some salt, lime juice, and half of cilantro.
  3. Mix this paste with cooked rice.
  4. Adjust salt and lime juice to your liking and serve with adding some more chopped cilantro.

Take in a bowl and dig in 🙂



Working woman’s Rajma (kidney beans) One-pot


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 🙂