There aren’t many problems that a warm, nourishing bowl of Rajma Chawal can’t solve. At the end of a ride on the winding mountain roads, at a dhaba in the plains, or freshly created in a home kitchen, there is undeniable comfort in this simple, fulfilling meal. The kidney beans find a special place in most kitchens of North India and especially the mountains.
The Punjabi style of cooking the Rajma gravy usually involves a coarse paste of ginger and garlic, cooked with onions, pureed tomatoes and a mix of powdered and whole spices. The ‘Rajma Madra’ recipe, usually prepared in Himachal Pradesh interestingly replaces the garlic, the tomatoes and onions in the gravy with full fat yoghurt. The Rajma Madra is usually part of a traditional Himachali feast called the Dam. The recipes that are a part of a Dham, are satvik and made without onions and garlic. The Kashmiri version of the Rajma gravy uses a yoghurt base too. Each household has their own unique, traditional hacks to soften the kidney beans easily so that they melt in your mouth. The most common one we’ve heard is adding a pinch of baking soda to your rajma when you put it in a pressure cooker. It’s not just the cooking techniques that differentiate the Rajma in each part of India. The colour, texture and taste of each variety of Rajma is distinctly different from each other.
Did you know Uttarakhand alone is home to around 200 varieties of Rajma. Here are four varieties, we’ve tried and loved.
This variety from the laps of Milam Glacier, is commonly cultivated at an altitude of around 7800 feet. This Rajma is great in taste and also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Where is it grown: Munsyari Pithoragarh
Cooking time: 3-4 whistles
Cultivated in Badrinath valley of Uttarakhand, at an altitude of around 7000 feet, the Joshimath Rajma’s freckled red skin sets it apart from the regular hilly varieties that come in solid, single colours.
Where is it grown: Joshimath Chamoli
Colour: Variegated Red Colours
Taste: Less pungency
Cooking time: 5-7 whistles
Found in the famous Pindari belt of Uttarakhand, the Red Rajma is one of the most popular varieties of Pahadi rajma. It also grown in other higher Himalayan Valleys of Uttarakhand.
Where is it grown: Pithoragarh
Colour: Dark Red
Taste: Buttery taste with a sweet fragrance
Cooking time: 5-7 whistles
Which variety of Rajma is your favourite? Tell us how you make your Rajma and share your secret ingredients, tips and tricks with us.
To buy unique varieties of Pahadi Rajma and Rice from Uttarakhand, directly from the farmers who grow them, please click here!
About the Author: Suprita Mitter is a storyteller at heart and luckily one by the virtue of her work as well. She truly believes that we are who we are because of our stories and that's what people remember us for. Her favourite way to find stories that she wants to tell is discovering them accidentally on her travels - through people, folklore, food, and art.