According to a survey published in TOI a few weeks ago, more than half of the Indian population is vegetarian. And most of these, don’t even eat eggs. Making it a bit tricky to get enough proteins in your diet. Unfortunately most of our meals are Carbs centric rather than protein, so it gets even more difficult to adjust your eating habits and lifestyle according to that.
Why is protein that important? Protein is an essential nutrient which helps form the structural component of body tissues and is used within many biological processes. It’s also needed to make up muscle tissue which in turn helps to keep our bodies active, strong, and healthy.
Too complicated? Just think protein as the building bricks of your house i.e. body. And other minerals and essential nutrients are like the cement and tar which keep those bricks intact. So we need proteins to build our body and then we need other equally important components to maintain the same. Its important functions are:
- It is a component of every cell in your body. In fact, hair and nails are mostly made of protein.
- Your body uses it to build and repair tissue.
- It supports antibodies to help us fight infection
- You need it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
- It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Thankfully it gets easier if you are not vegan, or intolerant to lactose since milk is also considered to be a good source of protein. Legumes or lentils still stand as the best source of proteins for vegetarians. Then you have other grains like rice, wheat, millets etc. which carry little proteins in them. I have listed a few good sources of proteins for vegetarians (not vegan) below
- Milk and dairy products
- Green peas
- All legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils etc.)
- Nuts specially almonds and peanuts
- Soy products (Tofu, soy milk, temph etc.)
- Vegetables also contain fair amount of proteins, specially green veggies like broccoli, spinach etc.
- Super foods like Chia seeds, hemp, sesame seeds, poppy seeds
- Flours and grains like buckwheat, ragi, unrefined rice etc.
Most of these items are easily available in stores and are good for vegans too. You don’t need to get overboard with proteins, although excess of it is not proven bad scientifically. Typically, you need about 1 gram of protein each day for every kilogram you weigh. That doesn’t mean you sit down and count calories and protein every time you eat anytime. Just try and include any of the above items in each major meal you have and you will be good. I myself work towards having one protein heavy meals very day and the rest of the time its little things including the above items.
Rajma (red kidney beans) have been an integral part of many cuisines, including Indian, Mexican, African etc. They make their way into soups, stews, curries, salads and even rice dishes.
Health benefits of Kidney beans: They 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. A cup of kidney beans provides over 15 grams of protein. They also are a great source of antioxidants which prevents ageing process and other skin diseases.
In Indian cuisine, red kidney beans are mostly prepared in the form of curries. The spices and preparation method varies from region to region, but its served mostly with rice aside. This recipe I have posted today is a Punjabi speciality and is a must to be served in all North Indian restaurants. Beans are cooked in a rich tomato sauce, and cream to bring up that creamy texture. I love this curry so much that I can have bowlfuls of it, on its own without any rice aside. But just so you know, all proteins sources are advised to be consumed with some complex carbs like rice, bread, roti etc. to avail the full benefits and easy breakdown. If you are watching calories, or just for a healthy wellbeing in total, take a small portion of carbs with a large protein dish.
Kidney beans are a gas producing thing, and hence these are cooked with some digestive spices in the curry. So don’t forget to add some of the elements like ginger, fennel, cumin seeds, garlic, cardamom, coriander seeds etc. when you are making this curry. These are included in the long list of ingredients given below, but you may choose your pick. If you don’t eat onion and garlic, simply make this curry without it but I would strongly recommend he addition of ginger and cardamom in that case to avoid any indigestion or heartburn later.
Cuisine: Punjabi, Indian
Course: Main, curry
Serves: 4-6 people
Cooking time: 40-50 minutes (excludes soaking time)
Recipe level: Moderate
What you need?
- 2 cup Red kidney beans, soaked in warm water overnight
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste ( I made fresh at home)** see notes
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 3-4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2-3 green chilies, chopped
- ½ cup Cilantro (coriander leaves), rinsed and chopped
- 1 cup full fat milk
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Cumin powder, Red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder each
- Salt to taste, about 2 tsp
- 2 bay leaves
- A small cinnamon stick
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1-2 cardamom pods, minced
- A pinch of nutmeg
- ½ tsp Dry mango powder ( Khatayi, optional )
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1 tsp Ghee
- 2-3 dried red chilies
- 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi ( dried fenugreek )
- Seasoning to taste
Pressure cook Rajma with 6 cups of water till 4 whistles with salt and turmeric. Allow the pressure to ease off before opening the cooker. Keep almost ¼ cup Rajma aside and make a paste of it when it cools down.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker- Soak for 7-8 hours in hot water. Then cook covered with 5-6 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pan with salt and turmeric, for about an hour or so. You may add a pinch of soda to it, so the beans will soften very quickly
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed pan and throw in the whole spices like cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon. Fry them for just 10-15 seconds and then add in the chopped onion. Once they turn light brown, turn off the flame. Let the onion paste cool down a bit (for about 5-7 minutes) and then blend it into fine chutney like paste. Do not blend while its still hot, this may be dangerous.
Now, heat the remaining 1 tbsp Oil in the pan, and sauté ginger-garlic paste with green chilies for a minute. Pour in the blended onion paste into it along with the chopped tomatoes. Mix everything well and cook covered for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.
Add in all the spices (except Garam masala) including salt, and stir. Cook further for around 5-6 minutes till tomatoes get all mushy and cooked up properly.
Add the boiled Rajma to this paste along with enough water (about 1 cup at this stage) and let it simmer for 10 -12 min. Combine with the Rajma paste we prepared at the starting of the cooking and mix well. This is to give that yummy thickness to the dish. Cook further for 7-8 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals.
Now, turn the flame to the lowest and wait for another minute. Once you have made sure the curry is not at rolling boil, add the milk, gently stirring it. Simmer it further for about 18-20 minutes, stirring in between. Check the seasoning and turn off once it has reached your desired consistency.
Before serving prepare a tempering of Ghee , dried red chilies, kasuri methi and any seasoning if required and pour onto the serving bowl. Garnish with some fresh cilantro and here you go..
To prepare ginger garlic paste, keep the proportion of garlic: ginger as 60:40. So 7-8 large garlic pods mixed with an inch long ginger piece would give you about 2 tbsp of the paste. I usually mince them in a mortar and pestle so I could scrap the sides and use most of it and also I like the coursely textured paste.
You may use cream instead of full fat milk but again, make sure that the curry is not rolling boil at the time and the flame is at its lowest. Else the cream or milk will curdle instantly.
Adding Kasuri methi is totally optional. Its just my thing which I like to do with most of my rich curries. It imparts a very nice aroma to the dish when served. In fact the whole tempering is only to make this curry more fragrant and you may skip it if don’t wish to add more oil to the plate.
You can easily make this curry vegan by omitting ghee for second tempering and using oil instead. Skip milk and use rice milk or oats milk instead, which will also bring in that earthy flavour into the curry.
You may add tomato puree instead of the whole tomatoes for the masala. I like the bits of tomatoes in the curry so I don’t puree them. But if you chose to do it, increase the quantity of tomato in it like take 4 tomatoes instead of 3. Otherwise the masala will not be thick enough after blending.
Sometimes milk curdle up when added to curries. To avoid this you may a tbsp. of Besan (gram flour) OR corn starch to the milk before and then add this paste to the curry as usual. Although fresh milk doesn’t curdle if is mixed properly at low flame and not at a boiling temperature.
Remember, the more you simmer this Rajma, the better it will taste. Obviously that doesn’t mean you should forget after keeping it on flame but a good 20 min is required to give that thick consistency to this. Sprinkle Garam Maslaa to it and turn off the flame. Keep it covered till being served so that it absorbs the flavours well.
You may extend your indulgence and drizzle some cream and butter on top when serving to guests. This is how it is served in restaurants and dhabas.
If you like rich curries, then you must check out my recipe for
References for this post are taken from: