Every time I see my friend Parminder, I get the irresistible urge to cook Indian food, mostly because food is all we ever talk about when we are together. She is a British ex-patriot, of Indian descent, and a fabulous home cook. Her mouth-watering traditional Indian food has earned her quite a reputation among her family and friends, and she is always willing to share her recipes, which mostly consist of a pinch of this and a spoonful of that. From our conversations, I have come to a basic understanding of Indian food--like its so-called holy trinity of seasonings which consists of garlic, onion, and ginger--and how to use it as a base for a wide variety of both vegetarian and meat dishes.
Yesterday, we discussed her recipes for yogurt marinated Tandoori chicken (yes, she makes her own yogurt) and samosas using flour tortillas, her method for prepping garlic, ginger and chiles ahead of time (she blends large batches in her food processor, freezes them flat, then breaks off chunks as she needs them), and how to make vegetarian red kidney bean curry or Rajma. Though she recommends buying the small, dried red kidney beans from the Mexican market, I made it using canned, because I was pressed for time. Its haunting spiciness filled the house with warmth as it simmered away on the stove. I made it a couple of hours ahead of time, and reheated it for dinner later. Served in all its glorious juices atop a bed of basmati rice, it was a perfect meal to end a ridiculously busy day.
Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Curry)
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small green chile (seeded if you desire), minced
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 C grated fresh ginger
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 C diced or crushed tomatoes in their juice
1 C water
2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
handful of chopped cilantro
Heat olive oil in a small dutch oven over medium low heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until it is a deep golden color, about 10-15 minutes. Add garlic, chile, ginger and spices and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes, or until spices become fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes and water and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add kidney beans and simmer for 15 minutes more, adding 1/2 C water, if necessary. The finished dish shouldn't be as thick as stew, or as thin as a soup, but somewhere in between. Serve over rice, topped with chopped cilantro.