A Rainy Day, a Delicious Rajma…

We spend four months of the year at our cabin on Denman Island–the least commercial of BC’s many gulf islands. It’s lovely and green and wild here, but, other than a tiny general store, there’s no place to buy groceries on the island, so we must take the little ferry across to Vancouver Island and travel into town. The ferry is prohibitively expensive, so we try to keep the trip to once a week, and at the end of the week, our larder is pretty bare of the fresh stuff…particularly when we’re committed to eating all plants! We were due to go into town today, but it was a rainy day in May, and a long hike followed by a book in front of the fire seemed much better.

So desperate was I for fresh stuff that I had to gather  the spinach, kale, and lettuce for my morning smoothie from the barely emerging plants on my balcony garden. The nice thing about Denman is that as summer approaches, many of the farms and households sell fresh produce (and eggs), but the harvests aren’t yet ready.

Lunch today was a delicious rajma chawal, which I adapted from Vij’s cookbook: Vij’s At Home, which J bought on the ferry. While it’s not entirely vegetarian, many of its recipes are vegetarian and even vegan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Vij’s Restaurant, it’s a Vancouver favourite. You can’t make a reservation and might spend as much as an hour and a half waiting for a table, but it’s always worth it. Plus, as you wait, the host(ess)–or sometimes even Vij–will wander by with hors d’oeuvres and a offer you a glass of wine.

Here’s my version of Vij’s Rajma Chawal–the only changes I really made were to reduce the oil from half a cup to a spray of the pan and to use canned tomatoes, rather than fresh ones (but only because I’d run out of fresh ones). I also reduced the salt to 1/3 of the original.

1 chopped onion (large)

6 cloves finely chopped garlic

2 TBS finely chopped ginger

1 28.5 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (drained)

1 1/2 TBS chili powder

1 tsp tumeric

1  TBS cumin

1 TBS ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cayenne

6 cups water

3 – 14 oz cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed.

Spray the pan with oil and saute the onion for about eight minutes; add the garlic and saute for another two minutes. Stir in ginger, spices, and tomatoes. Saute for another six minutes or so. Add water and bring to a boil. Add kidney beans, and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for three minutes.

Serve over brown basmati rice!

Rajma Chawal
Rajma Chawal

Since the larder is bare of fresh food, but full of packaged “foodstuffs” (as J calls them), we’re going to have to rely on some processed food for dinner this evening. I have some nice Gardein fake chick’n, which I’m going to serve in hot-and-sour soup. Fortunately, the vegetable soup that I’m using for the base is a super-healthy vegetable soup I made last summer–full of cabbage and zucchini and spinach. I made a few batches last summer, and I would have a mug of it every afternoon for a healthy snack. Unfortunately, I got sick of it after about three weeks, and I’d just made a fresh batch. It makes an excellent base, however, and, as I said, it’s super healthy. Here’s the link.

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