Bento: Rajma and Rice

Bento: Rajma and Rice

Main: Rajma.

Sides: Basmati rice and palak aloo (spinach and potatoes).

Fruits/Vegetables: Blueberries.

Snack: Blueberry yogurt.

Rajma is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It’s a simple curry of red kidney beans in a tomato sauce. When I was a child, it was one of two dishes we routinely had for our “special” Sunday dinners. These days we cook Rajma almost every week. (The up side to being the grown-up in charge of cooking is that you get to make your favorite foods as often as you like.)

It’s taken me a long time to learn to cook Rajma and adjust it to my tastes. I like for the sauce to be creamy, and I like the flavors to be hot, sweet, and sour. It’s that sour flavor that’s proved the trickiest to get right. In India, we use tamarind paste, but it used to not be widely available in the US. Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of substitute souring agents like beer, balsamic vinegar, amchoor (dried mango powder), lemon juice, lime juice, etc., but in the end, it was tamarind paste that did the trick. Sometimes the substitutes just won’t do.

This bento is relatively simple because I served a heavy breakfast this morning and intend to serve a relatively heavy dinner. I like to vary light and heavy meals when I’m planning our weekly menu so that we’re not overstuffed some days and practically starving on others. I’ve found this to be one of the biggest benefits to planning a weekly menu. When I’m winging it, I wind up serving very similar dishes multiple times in a row, or go too light or too heavy, etc.

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