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Just as its name suggests, the kidney bean is shaped like a kidney with a reddish brown colour and a thick skin. It has a strong flavour with a slightly sweet aftertaste, a nutty aroma and a chewy texture. The kidney bean is used extensively in Mexican cooking, and also in certain Indian dishes. It is quite popular in Punjabi cuisine.
Dark red kidney beans hold their shape really well during cooking and readily absorb flavours, making them a favourite addition to simmered dishes. Small and big sized beans are available, and you can choose what suits your recipe.
Black kidney beans and others such as pinto beans, navy beans, etc., are often referred to as ‘common beans’ in many countries. Black rajma is also available small and big, so choose what fits your recipe.
Wash and soak the rajma overnight. Then, drain and rinse the beans. Add soaked beans and water to a pressure cooker. The water should top the beans by about 2". Lock in the lid. Turn on heat. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the flame. Wait till the pressure has dropped, then open and drain the excess water. Use the cooked beans as required.
Rajma may also be cooked in a pot. Place soaked rajma in a pot and cover completely with water. Add salt to taste. Cook it with a lid on. Once done, remove from heat and drain the water. The cooking time will vary depending on method, quantity, quality and age of beans.
Boiled rajma can be eaten hot, warm or cold, as per one's choice, in various recipes.
To soak rajma beans, first wash them thoroughly, check for any stones and then soak in warm water. It is better to change the water from time to time while you're soaking or cooking the beans. Pouring off the water helps gets rid of the indigestible complex sugars that create gas in your intestine. It also helps to cook the beans thoroughly, until they can be easily mashed with a fork.
Store soaked rajma in the refrigerator in an airtight container and use within 2 to 3 days. Longer storage could cause an undesirable odour.
Soaking rajma does not cause any nutrient loss but makes it easier to digest. Soaking before use is recommended for those with gastric troubles.
How to Select
After soaking rajma overnight, cover it with a muslin cloth or cheese cloth. Place this in a warm area to induce germination. Once germination begins, the sprouts will begin to grow. Ensure that you keep changing the water. Within 24 to 26 hours, small edible shoots begin to appear. Always wash gently and then use in the recipe. Ensure that you don't expose these sprouts to sunlight.
• Kidney beans are readily available in dry and canned form in grocery stores.
• Choose even-shaped rajma that is clean and uncontaminated by debris. Culinary Uses
• The strong colour and robust flavour of kidney beans make it a welcome addition to salads, soups and rice dishes.
• Rajma is popularly used in curries and subzis in Punjab.
• Rajma curry is extremely popular not just in North India but elsewhere as well. Serve Rajma curry with plain boiled rice, cucumber salad and your favourite pickle to make a tasty and wholesome meal.
• Kidney beans are often used in chili, refried beans, soups, salads, simmered dishes and pasta preparations.How to Store
• Always store dry kidney beans in a dry airtight container at room temperature. Do not store dry beans in the refrigerator.
• Once cooked, beans can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 5 days and in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
• Always rinse and sort beans before cooking to remove stones and other debris.Health Benefits
• Kidney beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fibre, as are most other beans.
• In addition to lowering cholesterol, kidney beans' high fibre content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
• Beans are low in fat and loaded with nutrients, but they also have flatulence-causing enzymes, so take care to change the water while soaking and cooking to make them easier to digest.
• Kidney beans are an excellent source of folate, dietary fibre and manganese.
• Kidney beans are a good source of protein, thiamine (vitamin B1), phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium.