Rajma kebabs with green olive tapenade and black wild rice

IMG_2714Red kidney beans, popularly called rajma in India, seems to be the flavour of the week in my kitchen. The quintessential and staple bean, a favourite in many North Indian homes, it is a favourite especially with the Punjabi palate. With strong genes of the Punjab running in my blood, I decided to cook this hearty and meaty bean in my kitchen. Nope, not rajma masala. Instead, incorporating the leftover boiled rajma I had made for my greens and beans salad earlier this week, in a kebab. I have spiced up the boiled beans with onions, ginger, garlic, chopped jalapeño and Indian spices and used a bit of paneer and potatoes to bind the kebab. Living in San Francisco, I decided to impart a local touch. I made a tangy tapenade or purée with green olives, capers and basil, as a relish for the kebabs. And to complete the meal a serving of buttery black wild rice and Mediterranean flatbread to accompany the kebabs. A bit of California, a bit of the Mediterranean and definitely a bit of North India in my cuisine today!:-). And it’s delightfully vegetarian!

Servings 4


Boiled red kidney beans or rajma – 4 cups
Finely chopped onions – 1/2 cup
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp. chopped ginger
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1 tsp. chopped jalapeño or green chile
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp.IMG_2704
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp. Store-bought or homemade(recipe given below)
Cayenne pepper – 1/2 tsp.
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp. Can use paprika instead.
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp.
Grated paneer or indian cottage cheese – 1/2 cup
Grated boiled potato – 1/4 cup

Breadcrumbs – 1 tbsp.

Canola oil – 1 tbsp. plus say 1/4 cup for shallow frying the kebabs
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the tapenade:
2 cups pitted green olives
1 large garlic clove
5-6 large fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. capers
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsleyv
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt, to taste

For the beans, I generally cook them from scratch, instead of buying the canned variety. Soak the beans overnight or for 6-8 hours. Pressure cook the beans till soft. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, boil beans with water in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover the beans. Simmer for 30-35 minutes till the beans are very soft. Let cool. Mash the beans with a


masher or a fork or simple use the best tool, your own clean hands!

IMG_2708Heat oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Saute the onions till pink. Add cumin seeds. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies, saute for a minute. Add the ground spices. Stir-fry for a minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Add lemon juice. Add the boiled and grated potatoes and the paneer. Add the breadcrumbs, not too much, just about a tablespoon. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Shape into kebabs and refrigerate.

Tip :For home made garam masala, dry roast the following spice – 2 tbsp. coriander seeds, 1 tbsp. cumin seeds, 1 black cardamom, 4-5 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, 8-10 peppercorns, 1 inch piece cinnamon stick, mace (it is a spice similar to nutmeg, it is the dried lace-like coverIMG_2711ing of nutmeg). Be careful not to burn spices, just IMG_2122a couple of minutes on medium heat. When cool, grind in a spice grinder (I use a small coffeebean grinder). Store in an airtight jar.
Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil on high, in a large non-stick skillet or fry pan. When oil is hot, add the kebabs to the pan. Oil has to be hot, so kebabs don’t disintegrate. Lower heat to medium low. Brown the kebabs on each side for3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set on a paper towel lined plate.
I love the flavour of wild black rice to accompany these kebabs. Cook the rice following same ratio of 2 to 1. 1 cup rice with 2 cups water or stock. Add a dollop of butter. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer covered till the rice is cooked. The black wild rice I used took about 20-25 minutes.
For the tapenade :
In a small food processor, combine all the ingredients. Process till the mixture is course. Keep checkingand scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Do not process


 it to a paste. The consistency of a tapenade should be course. Set aside in a bowl to serve alongside with the kebabs.


When serving the meal, arrange the kebabs on a platter. Garnish the platter with onion rings, sliced cucumbers and red radishes and some sliced lemons. Serve the kebabs with the olive tapenade, wild rice and some flatbreads or good ‘ol naan.



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