Munsyari Rajma (Kidney Beans)

The baby-pink coloured, smooth-textured Rajma (Kidney Beans) from Munsyari is unique in appearance and taste in equal measure. It has been accorded with a GI tag (#651) as it is unique in geographical origin and produce quality.

Munsyari is a small hamlet of several revenue villages in the Pithoragarh district of Kumaon Division in the Himalaya. On terraced fields, at altitudes above 7000 ft, this special type of Rajma is grown using traditional, regenerative and 100% natural farming practices. The micro-climate of the Munsyari region, with its adequate snow and rain, ensure the soil nutrients remain vitalized. The Rajma is sown before the beginning of the monsoon and then harvested in late autumn and early winter. The warmth from the winter sun dries the bean that turns a light pink hue, ready to be sold.

The aroma of the Munsyari Rajma is invigorating, to say the least, and takes 25 to 30 minutes less to cook in comparison with other varieties of Rajma. It has a high mineral content of Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc.

Bhaderwah Black Rajma

The black Bhaderwah Rajma has an exotic flavour. This humble kidney bean from Jammu carries the name of the place it hails from. The word Bhaderwah is derived from the Hindu Goddess Bhadrakali and the place was formerly known as Bhaderkashi. Later, the name of this place was modified to Bhaderwah, now widely accepted as the common and official name. Located in the Doda district of Jammu, lush green meadows and breathtaking valleys make Bhaderwah a little paradise.

The Bhaderwah Rajma is locally known as Wari Muth. Grown with 100% natural agriculture processes, the bean is as delectable as it is flavourful.

Soaked overnight like most varieties of Rajma and then pressure-cooked, Bhaderwah Black Rajma is eaten as a dal or snack across Jammu and Kashmir with naan or Kashmiri roti and is popular street food in the valley of Kashmir. It is rich in protein and magnesium.

Thool Rajma

Thool Rajma, or the Cranberry-speckled bean, is sweeter and softer in taste than other kidney bean varieties. Thool translates to “egg” as this bean is egg-shaped and smooth in texture. It is rounder than regular kidney beans in appearance and resembles petite spotted eggs.

The snowclad winters of Kashmir provide the soil with just the right nutrients to ensure a soft and nutritious egg-shaped bean is harvested consistently.

Kashmiris traditionally cook Thool Rajma in a gravy with eggplant, kale or potatoes. It is distinguished by a mild nutty flavour and attains a rich and creamy texture after boiling.

Kinnauri Rajma

Known for their long pencil shape – as Pencil Rajma, the Kinnauri Rajma is grown in extremely high-altitude regions of the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. From deep red to maroon in colour, this Rajma is famous for its high nutritional value.

Kinnaur is home to the valleys of rivers Baspa, Sutlej and Spiti and is one of the more remote areas of the state and borders with Tibet. Its unique climate is conducive to this special produce that is grown with traditional farming and chemical-free processes.

The Kinnauri Rajma is unique in its rich fibre content, delicious taste and soft texture upon soaking and pressure-cooking. Generally cooked in a tomato and onion-based gravy with spices, the Kinnauri Rajma is long and melts in the mouth.

Chotta Bhangal Yellow Rajma

The yellow Rajma produced in Chotta Bhangal region of Kangra district, and Barot region of Mandi district are famous for their unique colour and medicinal value. Chhota Bhangal region in Himachal Pradesh lies primarily in Uhl valley near the Dhauladhar range.

Valleys dotted with lush green terrace fields are home to several indigenous communities. The chemical-free farming followed by smallholder farmers of the region gives this variety of Rajma a unique flavour and aroma.

The Chotta Bhangal Yellow Rajma is low in fat and high in fibre, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin B1, and potassium. It has antioxidant and anti-ageing properties, and is considered one of the best vegetarian foods given its high protein content.

Chakwai Rice Bean

The rice bean grown in the north-east states of India is also called Climbing Mountain Bean, Mambi bean, Chakwai in Manipuri, and Oriental bean due to its origin in the Indo-China region. Depending on where it is grown, the size and shape differs.

In Manipur, it is grown on small farms by indigenous communities with 100% natural farming methods. Its taste and nutrition improve with rising altitudes. A study published in the Journal of Food Science in December 2012 says the rice bean is an under-utilised legume and is nutritionally richer than other beans of the family. It can cure menstrual issues and epilepsy and has anti-inflammatory properties. These beans are also rich in fibre. It has a high amount of protein and amino acids such as tryptophan and methionine.

Several traditional Manipuri recipes use the rice bean. Apart from being used to prepare singju (salad), eronba (chutney) and kangsoi (vegetable stew), rice bean is also cooked as a soup and rice bean curry. In Nagaland, it is boiled with little or no spice and eaten with fish and meat. It is also an integral part of Tripuri cuisine.

“Bhatt” Black Soya Bean

“Bhatt”, a traditional variety of Soya bean (hybrid crop), is grown in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand. This small black Soya bean is also considered a super-food for its power-packed nutrition content.

Rich in calcium, phosphorus, and iron, Bhatt is a rich source of vitamins as well. Local farming communities grow it using traditional agricultural methods with zero use of chemicals. The nutrient-rich Himalayan soil acts as the chief alchemist in the production of “Bhatt”.

The “Bhatt” is cooked in wheat flour curry with spices across the Kumaon Himalaya. It can be cooked by mixing with other lentils as well.

Soya Bean

Also called Axone or Akhuni in Nagaland and Tungrymbai or Tung rymbái or Tungto in Meghalaya, the fermented soya bean of the north-east is well known for its distinctive taste and smell.

Grown across these states by smallholder farmers it is used in a variety of home preparations and is also integral to the culinary traditions of Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya and all tribes of Nagaland, especially the Sema tribe. In fact, Akhuni is from the Sema lexicon, combining two words Axo-ne, Axo means "aroma" or "smell" and the word ne or nhe (similar word, tho) means "deep" or "strong". So Akhuni literally translates to "deep Smell" or "strong smell".

It is used as a condiment to make pickles and chutneys, or curries of pork, fish, chicken, beef, etc. It imparts a rich flavour to anything you cook it with. The beans are washed, then boiled until soft and then fermented using bamboo or even in the sun. It can be stored and used as a paste with mustard oil or in other preparations.