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!

Gajar Methi Matar – Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stir fry



I had to pick up a bunch of these slender carrots from the store and combine them with addictively bitter fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves into this delicious stir fry. An otherwise plain-looking side dish which in reality in such a perfect balance of texture and flavors, it formed a part of our winter meals just once or twice in the season because growing up, carrots were usually consumed in preparing luscious halwa or tangy winter pickles. Or mostly mum would simply cut up raw carrots into sticks and squirted fresh lemon juice & dash of chaat masala on top for a healthy snack in between meals.

Not having it often could be the reason it is one of my favorite things to prepare during colder months.Who knows? But this sweet-spicy medley, very popular in north indian parts of India, when served with piping hot yellow dal, few cut up hard-boiled eggs and hot rotis forms a super satisfying home meal in addition to being wholesome and nourishing.

I love the robust choice winter vegetables bring with them. I could go on about my love for produce at this time of the year – fleshy turnips, sweet beetroots and leafy greens.While many people find comfort in meats and poultry at this time when its dull and grey or perhaps snowy outside if you are on the east coast, I need a hearty stock of vegetables to strive and feel energetic through the season.If you are in India, where unlike here, fresh peas make an appearance in the winter months, you could be in for a really treat if you plan to make this along with those juicy, raspberry red carrots, native to the asian subcontinent which I am still to spot here.

In this recipe, you could substitute methi leaves with any bitter greens of choice – kale or turnip, radish greens work wonderfully.To balance out the sweetness from carrots and peas, you do need a bitter element so do not skip the greens. Sometimes I add diced up sweet potatoes or white potatoes for an earthy texture, making it sweet, spicy, bitter and deliciously savory side to go along dal – rice or plain parathas(flatbreads).

Talking of fresh produce, I had a chance to visit the weekly farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building during our trip to bay area last week. What a beautiful, fresh and gorgeous spread of produce, meats,bread and condiments it was.We spent almost half a dat there sampling cheeses, raw honey, bread & hot pizza from the stand. Here are a few pictures for you guys.

A simply spiced carrots, peas and fresh fenugreek leaves dish with warm tones of ginger & cumin which can be served as a side or a warm winter salad. 

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4-5 medium-sized carrots (I used a bunch which had 6-7 small, slender carrots)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup packed fresh methi leaves, picked
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp methi dana(fenugreek seeds)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  small roma tomato, finely chopped (yield about 2.5 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder to taste, or use fresh lemon juice to taste at the end)

Notes - 

  • Use any bitter robust green like kale (blanched) or radish & turnip greens in place of fenugreek.
  • We like this dish more on the sweet bitter side than with tang. Even though tomatoes & amchoor balance the sweet, depending on how acidic your tomato is, just adjust the amount of lemon or amchoor. You may or might not need it at all too. 

Method

Wash and peel the carrots. Pat them dry and dice them if you have the thicker ones, I cut them up into small rounds since mine were slender. Wash the methi leaves under running stream of water and completely dry them before chopping. If you are using fresh pea, shell the pods, if using frozen, thaw them.

In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic and hing. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown,about 8-10 seconds.Be sure that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.Then add the tomatoes & turmeric.Saute for a minute or so on medium till the tomato begins to soften. Add the carrots (and potatoes/sweet potatoes if using) and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat till the carrots become tender(or about 80% cooked).Add a little splash of water if you feel that the carrots need moisture for cooking.

Open the lid add the red chill powder along with peas, ginger and chopped methi. Add salt to taste. Stir to combine everything together. Cover again and let cook for another 3-4 minutes till the methi leaves wilt down and peas are tender. I let the vegetables have a bite so I do not cook them for too long.Adjust the time of cooking accordingly.

For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, bump up the heat to high, add amchoor, garam masala and saute the vegetables for a minute or so.We call this process “bhuno” (saute on high heat) This makes the stir fry glisten and adds a depth of flavor.

Serve warm.

Baingan Aloo (Eggplant & Potato Stirfry)

Eggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakoras and bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.

I totally hated it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.

I always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did summer go.

For us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together,mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
  • 1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
  • scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Method

In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7 seconds taking care they do not burn.  (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)

Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.

Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.

Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)

Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and  kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro & serve.