In line with Mazdoor Kitchen’s philosophy, this recipe was created among many others, keeping in mind the people it seeks to serve. Many of the people we support and feed daily meals to are migrant workers, construction workers, homeless people, rickshawaalas, domestic workers, ragpickers who often have no place to sleep, or take refuge except on the street. For them, this is the one and only wholesome meal of the day.
Our aim with this one meal is to combine different food groups, providing enough calories, carbohydrates, nutrition, and proteins. One serving, or portion per person, ends up weighing 480-520 grams. For a labourer who has been working the whole day, this meal is ideal and dignified.
The rice, kaala chana, rajma, and vegetables are cooked separately and then combined together into one whole meal, so people can choose to mix it and eat with rice, or save the vegetables to be eaten later with rotis that they may have procured. Originally, the kaala chana-rajma and vegetable mix, when served in winter, was cooked with the rice together as a pulao. But since that tends to go bad very fast in the heat, we shifted to cooking the rice separately and the vegetable mix separately. The two dishes are packed together.
Our daily meals are prepared and cooked with the intention to make them delicious and wholesome. Our endeavor through these meals remains that the person eating it can have a full belly and a taste of home because everyone deserves a dignified meal.
|Dhaniya (coriander) powder
|Lal mirch (red chili) powder
|Kitchen king powder
|Rajma masala powder
|Chana masala powder
|Sabut lal mirch (dried red chilies)
|Degi mirch powder
|Rajma (kidney beans)
|Kaala chana (black chickpeas)
|Ghiya (bottle gourd)
What You Will Need
A weighing scale, four 45-litre cauldrons, three smaller cauldrons, a 35-litre pressure cooker, a big electric mixer, two big cooking ladles, a knife, a deep serving ladle, and a strainer are essential to cooking the kaala chana and rice.
- Weigh the ingredients before you begin.
- Wash and soak the kaala chana and rajma overnight, or a minimum of seven hours.
- Wash the rice thrice, then let it soak for seven hours (the water level should be about 3 inches above the rice)
- Wash all the vegetables—kaddu, ghiya, and aaloo—and cut them into chunky pieces (half a finger in size).
- Fine-chop the onion and tomato.
- Blend ginger and garlic into a thick paste with a little water.
In a big cauldron, cook the rice for 43-45 minutes on a high flame. Then let it rest.
In a small cauldron, heat ¼ cup of oil, add half the quantity of all these ingredients: ginger-garlic paste, dhaniya powder, lal mirch powder, degi mirch powder, kitchen king powder, rajma masala powder, chana masala powder, amchur powder, 250 gms chopped onion, and 250 gms chopped tomato, and stir for a few minutes.
Pressure cook this masala mix and the kaala chana and rajma (with the water they were soaked in) for 45 minutes. Start with a high flame, and lower it with every whistle—a total of three of four.
In another big cauldron, heat 1 cup of oil, and add rest of the onion, tomatoes, and remaining masalas (ginger-garlic paste, dhaniya powder, lal mirch powder, degi mirch powder, kitchen king powder, rajma masala powder, chana masala powder, amchur powder), and the three vegetables. Saute this for 15-20 minutes. Cover it with a lid and let it simmer on a low flame for 35-40 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cooked kaala chana and rajma to this mix, and stir it with a big ladle on a low flame for a few minutes.
The rice should be cooked by now. Strain it, but don’t throw the water away.
Add this rice water to the vegetable-chana mix, and boil it to a boil. Then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until a thick gravy forms.
For tempering, heat ¼ cup of oil and add the sabut lal mirchi, zeera. This will take a few minutes, so stir well and once it’s crackling, turn the flame off. Pour this over the vegetable-chana mix, and let it simmer for a few minutes before cutting the heat.
You can easily substitute the kaala chana and rajma for chole. You can also mix it up with other ingredients like soyabean nuggets.
To know more about the story behind the kaale-chane ka pulao, the team that prepares over 400 portions of the dish, and Mazdoor Kitchen’s journey, read Riddhi Dastidar’s ‘Inside My Kitchen’ feature here.
Mazdoor Kitchen is a citizen-driven voluntary initiative, working to provide meals and subsistence to daily wage workers in North Delhi. Run by a dedicated team of volunteers comprising community members, students, artists, it has been providing meals, ration kits and employment to hundreds of people, since the beginning of the lockdown in May 2020.
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