Monday, March 7, 2011


Um... hello? Is anyone still out there? Well, I've decided to get this thing back up and running after a ridiculously long break. I mean the last post that I contributed was almost two years ago. Crazy! A lot has happened since then, but it is the move to Boston that made me decide to start writing here again. My new place in Central Square, Cambridge is literally a two minute walk to the Harvest Coop grocery store and an Indian market, making them both practically an extension of my kitchen. That said, I'd like to cook something new as close to every night as possible. We'll see how long it lasts, but the plan is also not to rely on any recipes and just come up with stuff based on what is already in my head. Part of how this works is that I walk into the grocery store and check out what vegetables look good, go into a trance-like state while I ponder possible combinations, apologize for blocking the aisle while in said trance-like state, and then come home and cook.

Rajma. By the way, being that I am right next to the Indian market, most of these are going to be Indian dishes. I should also say that, since I am making most of this up, the dishes are likely to be a bit removed from the standard formula. I would say that any piece of seemingly factual information provided here is highly suspect, so proceed with a pinch of salt. Rajma is an Indian curry centered around red kidney beans. For some reason I also think it would like to include some paneer. Here are the ingredients:

olive oil (ghee is better, but I forgot to buy it!)
several curry leaves
1-2 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
4-5 hot green chiles

6oz paneer (homemade or from the store)
3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
15oz can of red kidney beans (dried would be better, but that requires forethought)

salt to taste

Start out by heating some oil in a wide pan and add the curry leaves and cumin seeds. The smell of curry leaves by the way is one of my favorite smells ever. If you can find some, I highly recommend. If you can't get them, you can still make the dish without them, but that is sad. Another side note. I am trying to make the Indian dishes with a minimum number of different spices to see what the base of flavor really is for each dish.

Once the cumin seeds start to pop, throw in the cubed paneer, allowing it to brown on one side. When it seems like a good time to do so, toss in the chopped tomato and salt. I had always thought that before adding the tomato you should take out the paneer and set aside until the end. I didn't feel like doing it here though, and it came out great all the same.

Allow the tomato to cook down into a nice sauce, smashing down the tomato bits with a wooden spoon to help things along. Once things look to be at the desired level of sauciness, add in the kidney beans, which have been removed from their can and rinsed. Stir the beans around to incorporate into the sauce, adding additional salt if needed. Finally top off with a good amount of chopped cilantro and juice from about half a lemon. The lemon and the cilantro really made the dish come together nicely! Rather than serving with rice, I enjoyed my meal with some Indian flat bread (methi paratha) from the Indian market!