Rajma Curry and Back to the Budget.

I’ve indulged in a few wanton and delicious splurges lately. One involved a long lunch at a nearby restaurant. Mr Tranquillo and I, tired of picking, prepping and pickling produce, agreed it was time someone else cooked our lunch. We chose Mercer’s Restaurant in Eltham, not only because of it’s ‘hat’ awards over the years, but also because the menu looked like it might please my very fastidious palate. The degustation menu for two looked perfect, and at $90 each, a steal. The whole experience was delightful and exquisite: the setting, elegant with soft lighting, the staff discreet but well-informed, the food exceptional, cheffy but very good. No photos were taken. I was rather pleased to discover a vacuum in my camera’s memory card slot. It was a sign not to spoil a heavenly experience with the tedious, pedestrian business of the taking of photos. Enough said. Just go to Mercer’s when you need to be spoilt.

As an antidote to this splurge, and in keeping with my resolution of the New Year, I now return to my $1.00 per head feasts with this Rajma Masala recipe. The Indian ( Hindi) word for red kidney bean sounds more exotic than the English, the latter with allusions to tie-dyed hippydom. This is a classic Indian vegetarian curry.  Break out the Bollywood and dance as you prepare your simple feast. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARajma Curry for 2 (or many as part of a larger banquet)


  • 200 gr red kidney beans/rajma
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves + 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped + 1 green chilli, crushed to a paste in a mortar and pestle ( or small blender)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • ¼ tsp to ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 cups of stock or water
  • 2 to 3 tbsp cream
  • salt


  1.  Rinse and soak the beans in enough water overnight or for 8 hours. The next day, discard the water and rinse the beans again in fresh water and cook in a pressure cooker, or on the stove till soft and cooked.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or wok. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle and brown a little, then add the onions and cook gently until soft and caramelised
  3.  Add the ginger/garlic/chili paste. Stir and saute for 5-10 seconds on low heat.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes. Saute for 2-3 minutes till soft.
  5. Add all the spice powders- turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, asafoetida and garam masala powder and stir through until the oil separates from the masala.
  6.  Add the drained beans to the mixture. stir through. You may decide not to add them all.
  7. Add 1+ 1/2 cups or stock, water or bean cooking liquid to the mixture and add salt to taste.
  8.  Simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes or more till the curry thickens slightly.
  9. Mash around a third of the bean mixture in a mortar and pestle and add back to the mixture to thicken the curry.
  10.  When the curry has thickened, add the cream and stir through. Check seasoning.

Serve with rice and cucumber raita. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Simple Cucumber Raita

  • small cucumber, peeled , seeded, diced.
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • small handful chopped coriander
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin seeds and mustard seeds
  • a little plain oil.

Mix the yoghurt and cucumber together, add the chopped coriander and a little salt. Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the seeds till they pop and brown and add to the yoghurt mixture, Return mixture to fridge to cool further. Make this ahead of time. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

23 thoughts on “Rajma Curry and Back to the Budget.”

  1. mmmm – and it sounds meant to be that you did not take a photo of your lunch out – sometimes it is all just for us to remember without a photo. and this Rajma Curry recipe and pics has me hungry. I like the mint in the photos –it catches the light nicely,.


      1. I grew it outside in some pots for years and years (not int he ground because it is so invasive) and eel, two years ago we had an arctic cold spell wipe out so many plants – argh. so I need to grow it again. two things I miss – sometimes just rubbing some between my hands to relax with – ah – and bringing in the little flowers to have in small glass or vase….
        oh – and in your photos – they serve as a little light source – again, cool food pics!


          1. well the kind I had was not really a bush – it was invasive and kinda like a crawling plant – so I kept it potted and u r right – it did spring back in spring… 🙂


  2. Wow! What a wonderful variation on red beans and rice! I love the cajun version, but this looks equally fab (if not better!). The economy and the flavour combination is a definite plus in this household. Dinner tomorrow – have to go soak those beans.


  3. How lovely for you and Mr Tranquillo to just sit back and enjoy. Everyone thinks I’m going to whip out my camera for every single meal, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered, food blog be damned! Have my first ever sourdough loaf in the oven as we speak, but I’m not sure its going to work – this bread baking malarkey is harder than I thought!


    1. It will work, have faith. You will be converted. Your first sourdough loaf is worth a big celebration, Salute – I am raising an imaginary Prosecco which will be replaced by a real one at lunchtime.

      Yes, The old food porn- sometimes I just want to be a greedy pig, eat and enjoy. x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great curry recipe, sadly beans and I are not friends, but root veg would be nice in that sauce too! I go to restaurants to dine, enjoy the food and company and conversation of those at the table with me. There are bountious photo opportunities elsewhere IMHO. Good to know Mercer’s are still keeping up the standards


    1. I was pleasantly surprised by Mercer’s as we live in a big culinary black hole in St Andrews. I thought the food would be too stuffy and old school, but it was sensational. They are also very willing to adapt the menu to suit any needs. We shifted the meat course out of the degus and replaced it with fish. They also are happy to cater for other dietary requirements.
      Humble beans seemed the only sensible follow up to such a grand meal.


  5. Mercer’s sounds great, thanks for the tip, if ever we are down that way again… which surely we will be. Your vegetarian curry looks beautiful but the raita caught my attention with the mustard seed and cumin seed in it, have never made it that way before. Thank you Francesca.


Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.