Rajma Ke Kabab (Vegan & GF Kidney Bean Kababs)

Vegetarian kababs were sometimes made by mom to use up the beans or lentils she had leftover. These are a great protein rich vegetarian option, these are super easy to make and form a light meal with some rotis and chutney. Or make burgers or wraps with them.

You can easily make a big batch, shape these and pan fry over a few days as and when you want. There are a few varieties of rajma available in stores but I go for the dark skinned ones mostly because they pack a lot of flavor. The darker the kidney bean, the tastier.

There are a few things to be kept in mind when making these so that the kababs are moist (yet not falling apart) and not dry either. If you are not using leftover boiled rajma and boiling beans just to make these, always mash the rajma after it has cooled down. If you mash it while it is hot, they will be quite sticky, difficult to shape and the texture is not going to be right. Don’t use a food processor or blender – it just kills the texture.

You really dont need any binder to shape these, because the beans bind well on their own. I add a potato just for taste, you can substitute with sweet potatoes(though then they will be a little sweeter) or skip potatoes totally. Use any kinds of beans – garbanzo, black chickpeas, black eyed peas or skin on lentils, this recipe will work for all.

Recipe

Ingredients Makes 8-10 Kababs

  • 1.5 cup boiled rajma (see notes)
  • 1 large potato, boiled and peeled
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions ,divided
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (recipe for my homemade blend here)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder, adjust depending on how tangy your chaat masala is and how tangy you prefer, substitute with lime juice)
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Chaat masala, pickled onions, chutney etc to serve.

Notes

  1. You can use canned beans in this recipe.
  2. Make sure that boiled rajma dosent have any liquid. If using canned, drain the beans properly to strain the liquid out.

Method

In a large bowl, mash the cold rajma nicely with hands. It will take a few minutes but avoid using a food processor or blender (it only makes the beans sticky). Try to mash them as fine as possible. Little bits of skins here and there is okay. Separately mash the boiled potato as well. Don’t grate the potato.

On medium heat, heat up oil in a pan (preferably non stick). Crackle the cumin seeds and immediately add 1/3 cup chopped onion, garlic and ginger all together to the pan. Saute for just 30 seconds and add the mashed beans and potato to the pan. Sprinkle all the powdered spices along with salt and mix well to combine. Cook this mixture continuously stirring for 2-3 minutes, you can mash lightly as you go. It will start to clump up into a ball. But will be soft. Dont cook for long else kababs will be dry.

Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool down completely. Add the rest of the onions, green chillies, cilantro and mint(if using). Combine well gently mixing with spatula or your hand if needed. Knead for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the salt at this stage. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Oil your palms, divide into equal portions and make small patties with your hands. Smooth all around using your palms and fingers. You should get around 8 or 10. Make all the patties and place them on a plate before frying.

Brush 1 tbsp oil on a cast iron skillet or a non stick pan. Once the skillet is hot (not super hot), place the kababs on the skillet and let them fry for 3-5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the bottoms are darkish and crispy. You can add 1 tsp oil at intervals but don’t add lot of oil all at once.

Carefully, using a wide spatula, flip and cook on the other side. These will be soft so be gentle. Cook till browned on other side. Switch off the stove and let the kababs rest on the skillet for 5-7 minutes. This sets them, if you pick up too soon, they will break.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Rajma Masala

Spice laden tomato(ey) sauce, gooey beans, hints of cinnamon and cardamom, steamed rice on the side and lots of fresh cilantro on top.This pretty much sums up rajma (kidney beans)-chawal(rice). Quite similar to the warming pot roast, we pretty much savor this dish every other Sunday afternoon in the house followed by a long nap which by all means is the necessary element of the brunch ritual. This north indian kidney beans curry is spicy and comforting, all of you who love beans and a side of carbohydrate (potatoes/rice) would know how addictive it can get, just few minutes into eating.

When I think something comforting – an event, a memory, food, travel or in general, any milestone of life, I want to be in that moment and think more and even more about it.These days, I seem to remember my home in India a lot. The routine of daily life back there keeps on flashing in my mind now and then.Our domestic help sitting on the floor peeling and chopping squash, talking about the other homes she works in, mum next to her and grinding fresh chilies and garlic in our decade old mortar & pestle. They discussed nuances of long power cuts- the preparations that precede it, casually chatting about unusually above normal temperatures and yet how late monsoons have been this year. In between, my mum would pour her elaichi chai with few crumbly rusks, both having a good ladies time.

While I brew my green tea on summer afternoons, my lil daughter napping, I also prepare dinner side by side, it is such a pleasant time to dig pockets of such spontaneous memories when I am all by myself in the house. It’s a warm feeling – nostalgic & bitter – sweet at the same time.

When I severely miss home, it’s just left to the meals to comfort us. Talk about comforting and rajma masala is my soul food. Not only because of how hearty it is but also because how uncomplicated the flavors are.Its bright and nourishing, its simple and doesnt need you to baby sit the pot. You could start with a simple masala, add the beans, let simmer and done. As a variation add vegetables (I am thinking whole baby potatoes or even few chopped greens here), why not? I personally like to serve it alongside paneer bhurji, rounding off our punjabi meal.

If you happen to taste this dish at restaurants, it comes rich and heavy, the base recipe remains similar but the final dish is finished with butter and cream. Most Indian restaurants in the west do not cook like how indians cook at home. I don’t know how this piling on of the fat started.The way rajma masala is made in rural, punjabi homes is a far cry from the overbearing use of butter and cream, it is homely and essentially what true Indian food is like. That said, stay clear of butter pool and make this kidney bean curry –  delicious, healthy & comforting!

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup red kidney beans, raw (make sure the beans are not more than 6 months old, I buy my stock from Whole Foods)
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/4 heaping cumin seeds
  • small twig of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 fresh Thai green chillies, whole or slit (adjust to tolerance)

For the Sauce

  • 5 tbsp mustard or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (slightly sour)
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder/cayenne (adjust quantity to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt
  • Chopped cilantro

Method

Cooking the beans

Note – Skip this step if using canned beans, add the whole spices listed under cooking the raw beans at the time when you make the sauce.

Soak the kidney beans in enough water overnight or for at least 8 hours. This is an important step if you are using raw beans, if not soaked enough, the recipe will not turn out well. Once the beans have swelled, drain and discard the water. Transfer the kidney beans to a pressure cooker. Add 3.5 cups water, cloves, cardamom, tejpatta, cumin, cinnamon, oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Close the lid of the cooker and pressure cook on medium heat for 2-3 whistles or till the beans are 95% cook. An easy indicator to know if the beans have cooked is that the skin starts peeling off from few of them but the shape is intact. You could cook the beans open in on stove top till tender for approximately 45-50 minutes.

Once the beans have cooked, pick up the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, tejpatta and discard. Transfer the cooked beans and stock to a bowl and mix in the ginger and whole chillies. Let sit while you make the sauce.

Making the Sauce

In the same cooking pot/pressure cooker that you boiled the beans,add the oil and heat on medium till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat tills it’s about to smoke so that the raw smell goes away.

Reduce heat to slightly and add the finely chopped onions and garlic and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chili, coriander,turmeric and amchoor powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some stock. Cook thoroughly.This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.

Add the boiled beans to the pot next along with all the stock.Check and adjust the salt. Add the garam masala & kasuri methi. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Once the beans have simmered, removed from heat and let sit undisturbed for 2-3 hours.

Serve warm garnished with cilantro.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!