When someone says rice n' beans, I usually assume we're talking about Mexican food, but that just shows my ignorance because it's a super common dish around the world. This Indian version, called rajma chawal (pronounced 'chavel'), is made with kidney beans and it's got umpteen layers of flavour.
In their new cookbook, Vikram Vij and his wife say it felt silly to write down a recipe like this, one so common in an Indian household. But I'm glad they did because I needed help with the spices. They encourage folks to play around with the amounts of spices to find a combo that works for their families. We made the dish as written and it's fairly spicy, but so delicious I doubt we'd change a thing.
from Vij's at Home
1/2 C cooking oil (canola, olive oil, ghee, your choice)
1 1/2 C chopped onion (1 medium)
2 Tbs finely chopped garlic
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 C chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder (mild Mexican)
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne (optional, but in my opinion, essential)
1/2 C plain yogurt
5-6 C water, depending on how soupy you want your curry
3 14-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 C cooked basmati rice
Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high. Add onion and saute until slightly dark brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute, then add ginger and tomatoes. Stir in spices -- chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne -- and saute this masala together until oil glistens on top, 5-8 minutes.
Place yogurt in a small bowl. To prevent curdling, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the hot masala into the yogurt. Stir well, then pour yogurt into the pot. Saute for a couple of minutes, until the oil glistens again.
Add water, stir, turn up the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add kidney beans, stir and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, until beans are warmed through.
Serve over rice, adding a dollop of plain yogurt if you wish.