In Kashmiri, rajma means beans and gogji means turnips. We're talking true Kashmiri comfort food in this hearty dish of delicately spiced beans and tender turnips. A truly authentic recipe that can easily be made vegetarian or vegan. Pair this traditional dish with heaps of steamed rice for a delicious meal on a chilly day.
Turnips or gogji are a favorite Winter treat in Kashmir. The turnips you see in the photo above are grown in our garden from Kashmiri seeds. As temperatures drop in the valley root vegetables become a plentiful Winter staple. I have never seen anyone get so excited about turnips as my Kashmiri family. The Kashmiris have many dishes combining turnips with everything from lotus roots (nadroo) to their beloved mutton. Pairing beans with turnips isn't a combination I would have ever thought of but it works!
The dish starts by frying the turnips in salted oil. This is an step many recipes miss. The resulting caramelized salt crust really gives the turnips a bit of extra flavor, texture, and authenticity. The browned turnips are then set aside while a masala base of traditional spices is prepared. A mutton bone is often included in this base for extra flavor. (If you don't have a mutton bone or wish to make this dish vegetarian or vegan just leave it out. There's more than enough flavor in this dish without it.) Then the beans are stewed until soft with the masala making a rich gravy. The fried turnips are then returned to the pot for a final simmer until rendered deliciously tender. Traditional Kashmiri rajma are a tiny variety of kidney beans quite similar to the beans used in the famed Creole dish of red beans and rice. Here I'm using a local Nepali variety of red beans that have a similar rustic flavor and soft texture. Regular kidney beans or pinto beans work well with this dish too. In Kashmir, heaps of steamed rice are served with rajma gogji as well as other Winter dishes like haak maaz(collards with mutton), monji haak (kohlrabi greens), tao mooj (fried daikon radish chutney), and baby potatoes (dum aloo).
1&1/2 C dry kidney or pinto beans soaked in 4 cups water with 1 tsp salt for at least 4 hours up to overnight then drained and rinsed (or two 14 oz cans of kidney or pinto beans with liquid)
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
1/2 C onion, diced
1 mutton bone (optional)
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste or 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
2 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp dry ginger powder/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2kg or 1lb turnips, peeled and cut into approximately the same size
Here's what to do:
1) Peel turnips and mix with 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and set aside. Some liquid will come out of the turnips. Heat oil or ghee in pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt or deep, heavy bottomed pot for 7 minutes.
2) Rinse salt off turnips and pat dry. Fry turnips in salted oil until browned on all sides. Set fried turnips aside.
3) To the same hot oil add diced onion and mutton bone if using. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions are just turning brown. Add garlic paste or asafoetida to onions and fry for 2 minutes stirring well. Add brown cardamoms, green cardamoms, cloves, and cumin seeds to fried onion mixture. Stir well and fry for 2 minutes.
4) Add soaked or canned beans, ground fennel, Kashmiri mirch, dry ginger powder, and turmeric to fried onion and spice mixture. Add enough water so that beans are covered by 2 inches of liquid in pot. If using pressure cooker and soaked beans: seal lid and allow to steam until beans are tender. If using pressure cooker and canned beans: seal lid and allow to steam for one whistle. If using soaked beans and stock pot: bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, top up water if necessary. If using stock pot and canned beans: allow to simmer covered for about 20 minutes stirring frequently.
5) When beans are tender add fried turnips to them. Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or until turnips are cooked through. Add 1/2 cup water if liquid gets too low or mixture begins to stick or scorch. For a thicker gravy take a large spoon and smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. The dish is done when turnips and beans are to cooked to desired tenderness. Salt to taste, garnish as desired and serve with mounds and mounds of steamed rice!