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Mar 18

Health foods A-Z: Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans or rajma are a common dish in every North Indian household. My sister and I would look forward to the days when rajma and rice were served- it was a sure reason to celebrate!

Named owing to their similarity in shape and color to the organ, kidney beans very tasty and their health benefits are numerous. They are a good source of fiber that lowers cholesterol, just like most other beans. Apart from this, the fiber also helps keep blood sugar levels in check. Thus, kidney beans are a very good food for diabetics.

When had with rice, kidney beans can provide high quality protein, nearly fat free. They are also a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Also, they are a good source of vitamins B and C. The calories in kidney beans are moderate, and they are low in fat and sodium, and zero as far as cholesterol is concerned.

Kidney beans are usually pre soaked before cooking to reduce cooking times. However, raw kidney beans can be poisonous. As few as 4-5 grains can bring on symptoms of poisoning, so be careful to keep them away from children. When cooked, the levels of the poisonous substance reduce to an extent that is safe for consumption. Thus, kidney beans should be well cooked before they can be served.

There are different kinds of kidney beans found. Some are dark red and bigger in shape, while some are smaller. There is also a white variety. Their appearance and textures vary, as do cooking times. They are also called common beans since they, along with other beans seem to have originated from a single bean in Peru. Eventually, they spread through other continents via traders, who carried these beans with them.

Kidney beans are commonly used in salads, or as accompaniment to rice dishes. Kidney beans are great since they absorb the flavors from other foods.

The recipe I have shared below is for the popular North Indian dish called rajma, wherein kidney beans are cooked in a tomato gravy and Indian spices. It is usually served with rice. Another common accompaniment is papad.

Kidney Beans on rice

Ingredients

1 cup kidney beans

4 cups water

2 tbsp. oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, pureed

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp red chilly powder

salt to taste

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chat masala

1 tsp garam masala powder

Method

Wash kidney beans thoroughly and soak them in 4 cups water overnight. In the morning, transfer the beans and water to a pressure cooker. Add a little salt and mix well. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. Once done, set aside for the pressure to come down on its own.

While the beans are cooking in the pressure cooker, take another pan and add oil. Wait for oil to get hot and add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions. Sauté the onions till they begin to brown. Add the tomato puree. Add all the dry masalas- red chilly, garam masala, chat masala, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Cook this till the oil begins to separate from the mixture. By now, the pressure cooker should be done, and you can add the cooked kidney beans to the mixture. Adjust the water according to desired gravy level. Allow the water to come to a boil. Then, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Kidney beans are ready. Serve hot with rice.

This post is part of a series on health foods. I have previously discussed Avocado, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Dates, Eggs, Fennel, Green Chickpeas, Honey, Iceberg lettuce and Jackfruit.

1 comment

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  1. Lida Lavender

    Kidney red beans are commonly used in chili soup chili con carne and are an integral part of the cuisine in northern regions of India. Red kidney beans are used in New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana for the classic Monday Creole dish of red beans and rice. The smaller, darker red beans are also used, particularly in Louisiana families with a recent Caribbean heritage. Small kidney beans used in La Rioja, Spain, are called caparrones.

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