My long lost comfort food in a far away country. Well lest just say as close to my comfort food as possible. So the more I read the more I am amazed by the beautiful culinary connection that binds together this "wide wide wide as the ocean" world.
I really dislike how the average media disrespects the culinary deliciousness of most cuisines. So India automatically means the land of curries, America means the land of burgers and the cliches are overwhelmingly sad. Look a bit deep and you will be amazed what each cuisine has to offer and once in a while its connection with another country far far away will delight and amaze you.
So it is only recently that I did read about the famous 'Southern Red Bean and rice" of Southern America. My first thought was amazement at the connection that it has with India's own Rajma Chawal. Well of course the Indian one is spicy and robust , the Southern variety less spicy meaty and comfortingly juicy from all that meat. And then I looked back without realization and found myself fondly remembering those dinners that my 'Baba' (Father , how amazing that the Afgans call their fathers baba as well) would cook. You see he would make this fantastic dish with red kidney beans and mutton (goat's meat) or chicken and those were fantastic, of course he did use tomatoes and as a rule of our family very little spice compared to most Indian palates. Then I made the mistake of talking about ti in school and boy oh boy was I teased mercilessly. You see the land of the five rivers were "rajma" (red kidney bean) originated cannot think of this meaty business and here I was filled with reminiscence of the past. The moment I read about it I knew I had to make it . Over the years I trained my palate to appreciate all kinds of food spicy, non-spicy and well can actually enjoy all of them.
A quick glance through recipes made me realize I had to make the creole seasoning but well did not have oregano and thyme at hand and so followed "deepsouthdish's" recipe which called for no local seasoning. Made a few changes such as using only a bit of dry sausages we get down here in Calcutta. Omitted the bacon and sued chicken stock. Well I love bacon but I hate tyres round the waist wink wink. Left out the celery since "Baba" does not like the taste, sprinkled some on mine. Used yellow bell pepper instead of green one but the result was a comforting meal and the need to soon make the creole and cajun seasoning and using bacon for next time's preparation. You can always omit sausages and use chicken in case of dietary restrictions.
So this is how I made it
1 cup red kidney beans "Rajma" soaked overnight and cooked in 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker
1 medium onion
1 tsp homemade garlic chili paste it was hot so you can always reduce the amount
Half an yellow bell pepper diced finely
1/2 a tsp dried basil leaves
About 350ml of chicken stock
200gm or it could have been 170gm of spicy pork sausage , feel free to change it as per dietary restrictions
Oil to brush pan
2 medium sized bay leaves
1 tsp celery leaves chopped finely
So begin a day ahead. Soak your beans at night with triple the amount of water and in the morning cook it in a pressure cooker till well cooked. If using for dinner you can soak early in the morning and cook at night.
Now brush the pan with oil and saute sausages chopped from before . Take them out add the finely sliced onion and diced bell pepper, cover and lower heat. This cooks it faster and requires no extra oil. since I used dried sausage it did not produce too much oil. when onions are well sauteed add the garlic chili paste , basil and 2 bay leaves. Add the beans drained of it's water and chicken stock and bring to boil and then cover and lower heat add the sausages in the last 15 minutes of cooking or well you can also keep them from the start . In the meantime cook your rice. I used Basmati rice which takes about 15 minutes of cooking. The beans are cooked all along with the rice. Make a bed of rice add the beans and enjoy a hearty delicious meal. Since my father is not too fond of celery I used freshly chopped celery for my dinner and omitted its use while preparation.