Rajma Chawal: What Makes This Classic Punjabi Lunch So Special
Image Credit: Eat More And Art-Vegetarian And Vegan Recipes/Facebook, Toh aaj khaane mein kya hai?

As soon as a Punjabi hears the word rajma, chawal instantly follows their chain of thoughts. The fact that rajma chawal are said in the same breath is proof enough of the tight bond that these two share with each other. Like Heer is incomplete without Ranjha and Romeo without his Juliet, rajma and chawal also share an unbreakable connection. For most parts of North India, rajma chawal is not simply a meal but an emotion. It is the comfort food of many and brought smiles to tons of faces when in low spirits. For those untouched by the phenomenon, rajma chawal is a combination of flavourful kidney beans that are cooked in a curry-like dish and served with steamed rice on the side. 

It is believed that the beans were never really grown in India. So how did the not-so-native beans become an intrinsic part of our meals? They travelled all the way from Mexico with the Portuguese who introduced them to Europe and finally, reached the Indian coast. The south-western coast saw incoming of traders and travelers who settled there and brought with them, these kidney beans. Gradually, Indians started adapting them to their cuisine and the rest is history. Little did we know that what was once a foreign addition to our diet would be so well-accepted in our culture that we would have a huge variety of beans growing in different parts of the country. 

The small sized rajma from Kashmir are different from the white ones produced in the hills of Uttarakhand. Even the North-East has their own specialty of rajma that is commonly used in meals. However, the most favourite ones are the light-brown beans that swell after being cooked and the resulting aroma is tantalizing and flavourful. In Punjab, the same beans are paired with rice. Now you may ask why? Well, rice is one of the first crops to be harvested during the harvest season. Also, paddy cultivation is quite extensive in the regions of Punjab and Haryana so rice is a common source of carbs. 

The kidney beans aka rajma fare well with rice as the flavourful and spicy mixture gets engulfed in the freshly-steamed long grain white rice. Lending people a feeling of home away from home and providing a sense of comfort even in foreign land, rajma chawal has been the reason behind the happiness and celebrations of one and many in India. Do you also feel like eating rajma chawal for lunch today? 

To make them, begin by soaking rajma aka kidney beans in water. Leave it for some time. Then, cook the rajma in salted water in a pressure cooker. Meanwhile, start preparing the curry by adding ginger-garlic paste to a pan with oil. Next, add some tomato and onion masala to the pan. Mix all of this together. To this, add the dry spices like garam masala, coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and more. Take your rajma and pour them in the pan along with the water. Combine this together with some kasuri methi. Garnish with coriander leaves and let it cook on slow flame. Simultaneously, soak rice in water and then place it on the flame with some salt and jeera. 

Let it cook for some time till the rice is soft and breaks. Once that is achieved, pour hot rajma over it and served. Here’s a quick recipe to try.