Tried and Tasted: Here is where you’ll get the best rajma chawal in Delhi
There are hundreds of rajma chawal stalls in Delhi, but one of the better known ones is Jain Chawal Wale in the Connaught Place area. Their dish is light, and neither spicy nor hot.more lifestyle Updated: Apr 22, 2018 09:26 IST
I often ask my chef friends, who rustle up the choicest of delicacies, about their comfort food. What is it that they like to eat at the end of the day after they have served their truffles and caviar, or tartare and ceviche? The answer, for many, is the same. Rajma chawal, they say.
There is, I must admit, something about rajma chawal. I wasn’t such a fan of the dish when I was growing up. But I quite enjoy it now, especially when the rajma is lightly cooked. I am not greatly fond of the beans cooked with large amounts of onions and tomatoes. But a few spices, and a little bit of asafoetida, can really lift the dish.
This is so much a part of our food lexicon that it is difficult to think the beans actually came to India from Latin America via Europe. Now it is widely grown, and is no longer a dish associated merely with the north.
In Delhi, of course, rajma chawal is much loved and eaten — not just in homes, but in restaurants and little shacks. If you are in an office area at lunch time, you are bound to see a small cart or a stall selling rajma chawal, and a crowd of people lapping it up.
There are hundreds of such stalls, but one of the better known ones is Jain Chawal Wale in the Connaught Place area, near the Shivaji Stadium. When I first went there, many years ago, it was a tiny place. But it has grown significantly since then — in size, in the number of dishes on offer, and in popularity.
It started out as a two-dish shack which sold pakoras and rajma chawal. Now, they serve thhalis, kadhi chawal, chholey chawal, aloo chana chawal, dal makhni chawal, raita chawal and so on. They have pakora chaats, chholey bhaturey, parathas, and even some Chinese dishes.
But I go there for their rajma chawal. It is light, and neither spicy nor hot. They tart up the rice with some mild spices such as cumin seeds and then heap it up with rajma, chholey, kadhi and so on. It is then topped with onion slices, and served with a papad.
The place is also known for its bread pakoras. I like them a lot for they are prepared in the Old Delhi style, served with some aloo sabzi and chutney. The bread pakora — two triangles of a slice of bread with a bit of paneer and masala stuffing, coated with besan and fried — is crispy from the outside and soft within. And the two textures complement each other. Jain Chawal Wale gives succour (along with the rajma) to streams of people every day. And, of course, comfort.
Recipe: Simply cooked rajma
Ingredients: 1 ½ cups of rajma, 1 cup chopped onions, 1 ½ cups chopped tomato, 3 green chillies, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, salt as required, oil as required.
Method: Soak the rajma overnight. Pressure cook it with about three cups of water and a pinch of salt. Once the beans are tender, drain the water and keep the beans aside. Heat the oil in a kadhai, fry the chopped onions till light brown and then add the tomatoes. Fry till the oil leaves the sides. Add slit green chillies, chilli, cumin and coriander powder and salt. Mix well. Add the rajma and mix some more. Add water as needed. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala. Serve with steamed rice.
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First Published: Apr 22, 2018 09:18 IST