One of my all time favorite dishes, especially enjoyable during the winter months, is rajma, a robust north Indian classic featuring plump red kidney beans in a thick and spicy tomato gravy. Just as there are countless ways to prepare Mexican-inspired chili stews ever so popular in the Western world, there are likewise many variations on the rajma theme.
This particular version elevates the rajma experience a level as it incorporates succulent cubes of paneer cheese into the mix making for a substantially more filling dish that is especially unique and satisfying. In addition to adding texture, paneer acts as a vehicle for the aromatic spices, further enhancing the dining experience.
Consider serving this when cooking for a larger crowd. It's always been a popular dish with my family and friends and is ideally complete when served with Indian flatbreads, vegetable sides and rice.
The recipe I present here is inspired by Lord Krishna's Cuisine by Yamuna Devi. This extensive cookbook was my very first introduction to Indian cooking, and I highly recommend it to both novice and veteran cooks alike. I've gifted it and recommended the book on more than a few occasions and a few of my dinner guests have purchased the book after tasting some of my creations inspired by the delicious recipes contained within. I frequently refer to it as the bible of Indian cooking as the recipes are easy to follow, though they vary in complexity, and a wide variety of traditional Indian dishes are presented. With nearly 800 pages, recipes for beans and legumes, grain, breads, vegetables, cheese, chutneys and sauces, snacks and sweets, and beverages, in addition to a very helpful glossary of terms and definitions are offered up.
As I have noted before, I normally prefer cookbooks with lots of pictures, but the little illustrations throughout this book — along with detailed descriptions preceding each section and recipe, serving suggestions and information regarding the origins and traditions of the dishes presented — more than compensate for the lack of photos.
Notes: Ajwain seeds and paneer cheese are easily available at any Indian or Asian grocer, but ajwain seeds can be substituted with a few extra cumin seeds and a pinch or two of dried thyme. Paneer cheese has a consistency much like tofu, only it's made from whole milk rather than bean curd, and is much tastier, rather like a firm version of cottage cheese. If you can't find paneer, consider making it yourself. The dish can be made without the paneer, though its presence is highly recommended.
Precisely because this is one of my favorite recipes, I am updating this post with some new photos and slight revisions.
|Curried Red Kidney Beans with Paneer (Paneer Rajma)|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Originally published on March 21, 2007
A rich, earthy and spicy red kidney bean curry served with tender pieces of fried paneer cheese
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Other rajma recipes to try:
Classic Kidney Bean Curry
Potato and Mint Rajma
Spicy Kidney Beans in a Tomato and Yogurt Sauce