Rajma is a very popular dish from the North Indian cuisine made of red kidney beans. The kidney beans is also known as the chilli bean and its dark red in color and the visually resemblance the shape of a kidney. It is sometimes also known as red bean.
The red kidney bean is actually not of Indian origin but native to the New World – Central Mexico and Guatemala. The Spaniards and the Portuguese brought the bean back to Europe. The dry seeds were most valuable source of protein for sailors, and ships soon carried the kidney bean to Africa and Asia. It had a special place in the diet of Native Americans. The amino acid profile of the pod complemented the amino profile of corn, the staple of most tribes. Some predominantly vegetarian tribes of Central America avoided malnutrition by incorporating the red seed into their daily corn recipes.
The term “kidney bean” refers to the shape of the bean, but it is also true that Native Americans used the bean to treat a variety of kidney and bladder complaints. The bean paste was a vital ingredient in ointments for rheumatism, sciatica, eczema and common skin infections.
Red kidney beans which are called as Rajma in Hindi and Punjabi are an integral part of the cuisine in northern region 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. They are a common ingredient in chili con carne. Small kidney beans used in La Rioja, Spain, are called Caparrones.
Kidney beans and other beans such as pinto beans, navy beans and black beans are known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are referred to as “common beans” probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru.
They spread throughout South and Central America as a result of migrating Indian traders who brought kidney beans with them from Peru. In the 15th century, beans were introduced into Europe by the Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. Subsequently, Spanish and Portuguese traders introduced kidney beans into Africa and Asia. As beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. Today, India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the United States are the largest commercial producers of dried common beans.
In India, especially in the state of Punjab and other northern states, Rajma is the quintessential north Indian dish preparing to a thick curry with red kidney beans being its chief ingredient and lots of Indian whole spices and served with hot rice. This dish developed after the red kidney bean was brought to the Indian subcontinent from Central Mexico and Guatemala. This dish is prepared by soaking beans in water overnight before they get boiled in a pressure cooker. Curry spices are generally cooked beforehand and then added at a later time.
Raw kidney beans, and some other beans, contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which is destroyed by boiling for at least ten minutes. Dry beans must be boiled prior to slow cooking to avoid poisoning. Even a few beans can be toxic, and beans can be as much as five times more toxic if cooked at 175 °F (80 °C) than if eaten raw, so adequate pre-boiling is vital. Since these dark red beans hold their shape really well during cooking and readily absorb surrounding flavors, they are a favorite bean to use in simmered dishes. Kidney beans that are white in color are known as cannellini beans.
Kidney beans are an excellent source of molybdenum. They are a very good source of folate, dietary fiber and manganese. Kidney beans are a good source of protein, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium:nutrient,90] and vitamin K. Apart from being energy rich, the beans are also rich in soluble dietary fibre. Kidney beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, kidney beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, kidney beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.
The nutritional values per 100 g of Kidney beans are:
Energy: 1,393 kJ (333 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 60 g
Sugars: 2 g
Dietary fiber: 15 g
Fat: 1 g
Protein: 24 g
Water: 12 g
Calcium: 143 mg (14%)
Iron: 8 mg (64%)
Magnesium: 140 mg (38%)
Zinc: 3 mg (30%)