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Friday, April 24, 2015

Revolutionary Rajma Pancakes –The complete New Road to Rajma

Red Kidney beans/Rajma pancakes, crispy outside, hearty at its soul, served with Tzatziki n tomato, green chili n how it suddenly makes pancakes healthy!

A few days ago when I was picking up rajma/ red kidney beans from the store I was whispering to myself ‘ this time I will do something completely new n delicious with rajma or I will just cook a good  homely rajma curry if that doesn’t happen’ n I gladly announce I did the first one. My smile doesn’t fade writing this line  J . Those red kidney bean pancakes were just not healthy, they tasted scrumptious and they shattered the idea that with rajma only a curry can be done like we find in north India as ‘Rajma Chawal’ or a salad of rajma.  There is a now a new way and it leads to healthy pancakes full of protein. And the opportunities are only starting to open themselves, lots of new cooking is happening in my little kitchen.

                                   So dear readers, no matter wherever you are, we are connected by the love for food n life n I want you to try this recipe when your hands are full of the red kidney beans. Here in India they are known as ‘Rajma’ in the Hindi speaking region and there is a very famous dish called ‘Rajma Chawal’ as I aforementioned, chawal is rice n so rajma chawal becomes a combined dish where a delicious rajma curry is served with white rice. This dish is very popular in the northern part of India  where the rajma is cooked with tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies, basic spices like cinnamon, green cardamom, clove, bay leaf, coriander powder, cumin powder, the ingredients vary from place to place but in its basic structure it stays around what I mentioned.

                                                          Rajma found its way to the Indian subcontinent from Mexico, another great civilization, thorough the hands of the Portuguese. Today it is a staple food in Punjab where the combination of rajma and rice is just loved. It is said that some of the best rajmas are grown in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, in fact the verities in Jammu are smaller in size than the ones grown in the plain and they a sweetish taste. In Jammu often rajma chawal is served with chutney of ‘Anardana’ which is dried pomegranate seeds.

                                                                              Interestingly a similar structure is served thousands of miles away in New Orleans n Louisiana in the United states, where there is a  classic Monday Creole dish of red beans n rice! The same combination of red beans n rice! In this case the red beans are cooked with vegetable like onion, bell pepper, celery, spices like thyme, cyanine pepper, bay leaf and pork bones and sometimes with ham n sausages. The red kidney beans are enjoyed very much over Latin America since this is the place where it comes from. Some of the much loved dishes here are ‘moros y cristianos’, ‘galo pinto’, ‘arroz con habichuelas’.

                                                                                                          Now when cooking rajma, it is important to pre-soak the beans overnight for about 6-8 hours. You can cook the beans without this step but the pre-soaking is important because of another reason. The red beans contain a toxic phytohemagglutinin, pre-soaking  n cooking the red beans at boiling point for at least 10 minutes is important to get rid of this toxic. Sometimes it is recommended to boil it for 30 minutes to completely destroy this toxic. So soak your rajmas, it is an easy step.

 The pancakes bowled me over when I bite into it, the crunch outside, the subtle hint of the spices, the combination of the green chili n tomato, the yogurt dip, it was a dear delight. And you know what! It tastes great when cold, I mean this is so good to carry when going out to travel or work and they will taste amazing at normal temperature, which makes them even special. 

                               While preparing the batter I used finely ground rice flour which gives it a beautiful flavor n crunch, rice flour doesn’t mute the flavor of other things like flour does. I added and egg which gives its flavor n its moisture. If you don’t have rice flour at all you can use flour or besan or corn flour. If you want you can skip the egg too and it will still be fine.

Okay so now let’s get to cooking n let me tell you the recipe. Here we go!

For The Recipe: you will need

For the Boiling part:
 Red Kidney beans- 125 gm (pre-soaked in water for 7-8 hours)
Red onion- 1 small
Potato- 1 medium or ½ big
Ginger- 1inch
Garlic - 2 cloves
Bay leaf – 1 small
Green chili- 1
Green cardamom – 1
Pink rock salt – 2 pinch
Baking soda- 2 pinches
Dalchini/cinnamon stick – ½ inch

For the Batter:
Smooth paste of the boiled rajma with everything in it
Rice flour-5/ 7 tbsp
Eggs- 2 medium
Salt to taste
Sugar-1 tbsp
Onion- 1medium, finely chopped
Coriander leaves – 2/ 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chili- 1 small, finely chopped (you can skip it)
Brown butter – 1 tbsp (butter browned in a pan over heat)
Water- around ½ cups until the consistency is reached, so it varies

For The Tzatziki:
Strained Yogurt- 5 tbsp
Minced garlic- 1 clove
Lime juice- 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- chopped 1 tsp
Sugar- a pinch
Vegetable oil- 2 tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Let’s begin by draining the water in which the rajmas were pre-soaked, and then put the rajmas in a pressure cooker with enough water to boil them. Add the onion quartered, the potato halved, one green chili, cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, a pinch of pink rock salt, a touch of sugar, 2/3 pinches of baking soda, salt to taste, one bay leaf,  the ginger , the garlic cloves and put in a high heat. Close the pressure cooker and on high heat let it come to one whistle, as one whistle comes, reduce the flame for 2 minutes, then put the heat back on until another whistle comes, then take it off the heat and let the pressure reduce.

2. As the pressure reduces, take the contains out of it, peel the potato, shell the cardamom pod and throw away the skin, then put everything in the food processor or mixer grinder n whizz it until it becomes very smooth in texture. Add some water, it will be eay to blend it.

3. To the smooth mixture add the eggs, the rice flour, salt, sugar and mix well until well combined. The sugar gives the batter a slight hint of sweetness which acts brilliantly when fried, so adjust it, don’t add too much sugar that it becomes really sweet, not too low also. Then add the finely chopped onion n coriander leaves, mix well.  Add water to this batter slowly and we want the batter to be very flowy like when doing a pancake with milk n eggs n flour, it should be like if you pour a ladleful of batter in the pan you can easily roll the batter in the pan to spread it evenly n quickly. Attaining this texture is important, keep the batter light n really flowing.

4. In the frying pan where the pancakes are to be fried melt 1 tbsp of butter over low heat and let the butter go brown and it will attain a hazelnut color, add this butter to the batter n mix well.

5. In the same pan heat it well, and then reduce the heat to low, spread 1 tsp of vegetable oil over the pan, then take 1 ladle of the batter which is about 3 tbsp, and pour it on the pan and roll the pan lightly so the batter spreads uniformly. Don’t try to spread the batter with the ladle, it doesn’t work, let the batter spread on its own and you tilt the pan around, this is why the batter has to be thin. Now increase the heat to medium high and give it about 4 minutes until the touching surface has gotten brown n crispy. In the meantime sprinkle some drops of oil over the surface of the pancake facing you. When the down surface has gotten crispy, lower the heat, carefully with a spatula lift it slowly around the border and you will be able to lift it up, flip it over gently and again sprinkle drops of oil around it, it will take 2 minutes in the low heat to cook.  After this surface just gets cooked carefully lift it out of the pan and on a plate. Here is our first pancake done.

6. Now it is time for the second pancake, keeps the heat to minimum when you are pouring the batter over the pan n rolling it, once it has spread increase the temperature to medium high and just go like before. Make all the pancakes like this.

7. It is time for the tzatziki, hang the yogurt for half an hour and some of the water will drop away. Then beat the yogurt until it is smooth, add the paste of a garlic clove n mix well, add freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbsp lime juice, chopped coriander leaves and the oil and mix very well. Add salt to taste and pinch of sugar, mix well. It is ready now, keep it in the refrigerator.

8. Cut the tomatoes in half, then slice those like the letter D. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper n pink rock salt over them. Take the green chili and cut the stem off, then roll the chili on the board pressing it lightly with your palm and soon the seeds will come out of the cut end, press as you roll and push the seeds out of the cut end. Then cut the chili into thin rings. Now the seeds are out it won’t be that hot at all.

9. Now it is time to serve. Take one pancake and spread some tzatziki inside it, place some of the tomato slices and fold it in half. Sprinkle the green chili rings over it and now you should have your bite!  Or just tear the pancake; dip it in the tzatziki n pick the tomato n green chili while on your way to bite! Yummmmm… Right! I told you…it is so good. 

Wait for it to get cold, try it after some hours and see how yummy it is. Bon app├ętit