It is now going to be almost two years this summer when we went on a road trip to Himachal Pradesh a North Indian state in the lap of Himalayas.Since we had traveled to this state before covering almost every district,it so happened that we never touched any towns of Chamba district.So this time we decided to visit Chamba district.’WE’ that is me,my hubby and my two daughters who are hardcore travelers and we love to do long road trips.So this time Chamba was on the list with the aim of visiting Saach Pass at the altitude of 4420 meters.So we chalked out our itinerary that included visiting some popular tourist destinations like Dalhousie and khajjiar to some lesser known off beat destinations like Bharmour and Bairagarh about which we came to know through some travelogues.As always this time also as a regular practice for the love of food I googled to gather information about the local cuisine and there I stumbled upon some traditional food items of which Rajma Madra was one.Rajma Madra is a yogurt based kidney bean curry from Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh.It is mildly spiced and has a thin curry loaded with ghee which is perfect to beat the low temperatures in the region. So I was constantly on a look out for the local food right from our first destination Dalhousie.But did not get any success as the place was flooded with tourists and the food available at the joints or the restaurants had the common menu which was commercially viable.Khajjiar was also a disappointment in terms of the local cuisine.Now my hunger kept on growing in search of the local food and especially Rajma Madra. We proceeded with our journey and reached Bharmour formally known as Brahmpura and the ancient capital of Chamba district.Amidst the breathtaking beauty this place somehow surprised us with the presence of a small bakery with freshly baked cakes and breads and locals selling some very good mutton momos(dimsums).This was to our hearts content but still missed having Rajma Madra.We moved on to our last destination Bairagarh ,the last village on approach to Saach Pass.Since this place is not a regular tourist place as it is not at easy access and one would only spot some group of bikers who are headed towards Saach Pass.
So the place does not have commercial activities involving presence of good hotels or restaurants and very few basic accomodations are available that would provide you with rooms and basic food…..and this is what anybody would want in such a remote place to spend one or two nights.We checked in our booked accomodation and after relaxing and unwinding after arduous journey I went into the dining room of the hotel in search of tea as the intercoms were not functional.While ordering for the tea the bare basic staff of that place was courteous enough to ask me about my preference for the dinner in advance so that they can get the ingredients ready.I took it as an opportunity and asked them to make Rajma Madra. Initially I sensed some reluctance but then I got thumbs up.The reluctance came up as the rajma needs to be soaked up for 6-7 hours before cooking which was not possible at that time,but somehow the things got managed and after eagerly waiting for the dinner time finally I got my hands to dig in the rajma curry that I was longing to have since the start of the journey.The taste of the first bite along with chapati left me awestruck.
The dish was ghee laden and I could spot some whole spices like cloves,cinnamon and black pepper.In the name of curry it had only ghee but was aromatic.I kept guessing while tasting and I could make out some similarity in taste with the kashmiri roghan josh curry as this state state shares its borders with Kashmir.I browsed through many you tube videos and somehow unable to convince my self I just came up with my own version of Rajma Madra which tastes as good as an original recipe which is also mildly spiced with subtle flavors.My cooking process is very different from the traditional one though the ingredients are more or less same except for fennel.I hope that you all find it appealing but before jumping to the recipe do have a look at Curried whole lentils,Dal Makhani(The Taste of Punjab),Rajma Curry,Curried Yellow Peas With Home Baked Kulchas(yeasted flat Bread)
- 1 cup kidney beans (rajma)
- 2 black cardamoms
- 4-5 green cardamoms
- 2″cinnamon stick
- 7-8 cloves
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- salt to taste
- 200 gm curd/yogurt
- Ghee(clarified butter)
- Soak rajma overnight or for 7-8 hours.
- Heat 1/4 cup of ghee in a pressure cooker.
- Add all the whole spices and asafoetida.Give it a quick mix and add soaked rajma.
- Add 1 tsp of kashmiri chili powder,salt to taste and about 3 cups of water.Cook under pressure till the rajma gets cooked ,about 7-8 whistles.
- Grind together coriander,ginger powder,fennel and remaining kashmiri chili powder.
- Mix the prepared spice powder with the yogurt.
- Release the pressure from the cooker and mix in the yogurt and spice paste.
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy and salt to taste.
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for 3-4 whistles more.
- Switch off the flame and let the pressure release on its own.
- Open the lid and check for the consistency again.The consistency of the curry should be medium thin.
- Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot along with steamed rice.
Enjoy!!!………………………………………and Happy Cooking!!!