Rajma, rice and calories

A whole lot of nutrients and very tasty too.

A whole lot of nutrients and very tasty too.  

RAJMA CURRY is the quintessential North Indian dish, but its chief ingredient — the red kidney bean — is not of Indian origin. It is native to the New World-Central Mexico and Guatemala, to be precise. The Spaniards and the Portuguese brought the bean back to Europe.

The dry seeds were a valuable source of protein for sailors, and ships soon carried the kidney bean to Africa and Asia. It had a special place in the diet of Native Americans. The amino acid profile of the pod complemented the amino profile of corn, the staple of most tribes. Some predominantly vegetarian tribes of Central America avoided malnutrition by incorporating the red seed into their daily corn recipes.

About 100 grams of boiled beans contain 140 calories, with 5.7 grams of protein, 5.9 grams of fat and nearly 17.8 grams of carbohydrate. Like most plant protein, the bean's amino acid profile is deficient in some essential amino acids. Eating cereals like wheat or corn along with beans helps get around this problem, as the Native Americans found out over a 1,000 years ago. Apart from being energy rich, the beans are also rich in soluble dietary fibre. This type of fibre helps lower blood cholesterol levels.

The seeds are also a valuable source of minerals like potassium, manganese, zinc, copper and iron. If you are a typical South Indian who isn't used to eating rajma, chances are that your first encounter with it will bring on a bout of flatulence. The way to avoid this is to restrain your taste buds and introduce the bean to your gut gradually — a few seeds per meal. Soaking the beans overnight destroys lectin, a toxin. Raw seeds can be toxic as they contain inhibitors of protein-digesting enzymes. These enzyme inhibitors can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, but cooking destroys them.

The term "kidney bean" refers to the shape of the bean, but it is also true that Native Americans used the bean to treat a variety of kidney and bladder complaints. The bean paste was a vital ingredient in ointments for rheumatism, sciatica, eczema and common skin infections.


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