I bought a bag of rosecoco beans sight unseen simply because of their lovely name, a few months back. It never occurred to me to look up the beans anywhere to find out what they were, and it certainly didn’t cross my mind (or even came anywhere within a few light years of my mind, never mind within crossing distance) that I might not like the beans – because a bean or legume that I dislike has not yet been invented.
Yes, there are certain ways of cooking/using beans and legumes that I might dislike (the gooey texture of cooked urad dal by itself, for instance), or certain additions to the cooked beans that I would not eat (anything non-vegetarian, in other words)… but the beans themselves are never at fault. Thus I repeat, I have no fear of meeting a bean and not liking it.
And so it was with the rosecoco beans (= cranberry bean = borlotti bean = saluggia = shell bean = salugia bean = crab eye bean = rosecoco bean = Roman bean = fagiolo romano). Not only did they look pretty, speckled and brown and prettily pinkish (or did I imagine that because of the rose in their name?), but they cooked up beautifully, too.
I have made rajma before, with the dark red kidney beans that are traditionally used for this recipe. This recipe is slightly different, if for nothing else other than I used my beloved slow-roasted tomatoes to make the gravy. I have said this before and I say it again – using oven-roasted tomatoes intensifies beautifully the flavour of any gravy. It’s well worth keeping roasted tomatoes handy. They usually last in my fridge for a week - and maybe could stay good for longer, I don’t know - covered with cling wrap.
I’m sure, as I’ve said before (again!), that you could puree the tomatoes and freeze it in ice-cube trays for convenient future use... but I haven’t done so thus far, because – er, I don’t have ice cube trays. If you’re wondering what we do for drinks, well – I buy ice. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I find the pre-frozen ice cubes convenient, and man, they last for absolutely AGES in a drink. I don’t know what it is about that ice, but the cubes – actually they’re not cubes, they’re beehive shaped, for some strange reason - just don’t melt as quickly. (Please, don’t tell me it’s because the ice has preservatives.)
Anyway, digression apart, here’s the recipe for rosecoco bean rajma, and my mother will vouch for the fact that it was lip-smackingly gorgeous. I love my rajma, I do.
Dry rosecoco beans (left) and soaked overnight (right)
Recipe for: Rosecoco bean rajma
1 cup rosecoco beans, soaked in water overnight
3 small red onions - two chopped, one minced finely
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes, pureed
1" piece ginger root, sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried red chillies
2-3 fresh green chillies, sliced into thin rounds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chole masala/garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
2-3 cups water
2-3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish
1. Grind the two chopped onions along with the ginger root, dried red chillies and cumin seeds
into a fine paste.
Reserve the minced onion.
2. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker, add the sliced green chillies and turmeric powder.
Fry the chillies for 30-45 seconds on high, stirring it meanwhile.
3. Add the minced onion now and stir it in; cook this for 2-3 minutes or till the onions begin to turn soft.
4. Now add the red onion paste along with coriander powder
and fry the mixture for 4-5 minutes.
5. Now stir in the roasted tomato paste
and add 1/4 cup water.
6. After two minutes, add the soaked beans.
Fry the beans, stirring them into the masala, for 3 minutes or so, stir in the garam masala/chole masala,
then pour in 2-3 cups water.
7. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then close the pressure cooker. Put the weight on the cooker once it's steaming well, then cook it for 2-3 whistles on high heat. Now turn the heat down to low and let the beans pressure-cook for at least 20 minutes. Finally allow the cooker to come up to pressure again and switch it off after a couple of whistles.
Once the cooker can be opened, add salt to taste to the rajma and stir it in well. The beans should be cooked such that they can be easily squashed between two fingers. If the gravy is watery, let the rajma boil on high heat till the excess water evaporates and the gravy is to the desired consistency.
Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves, along with cumin fried rice.