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Why Should Bhaderwah Rajma Be in Your Kitchen?

Bhaderwah Rajma, also known as red kidney beans, is a special variety of beans sourced from the Bhaderwah valley in the high altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The region, known for its pristine natural beauty and lush green landscapes, offers an ideal environment for growing these unique legumes. At an elevation of 5480 feet, the climatic conditions contribute to the distinctive qualities of Bhaderwah Rajma.

Unlike the more common kidney beans, Bhaderwah Rajma is smaller in size but packed with a robust flavor and a creamy texture that sets it apart. These beans are a staple in Indian cuisine, particularly in the northern regions, where they are a key ingredient in the beloved dish Rajma Chawal. This dish, which pairs the rich, hearty beans with fragrant Basmati rice, is a comfort food for many and is synonymous with home cooking in India.

Nutritionally, Bhaderwah Rajma is a powerhouse. It is rich in essential minerals like copper, which supports iron absorption, and iron itself, which is crucial for blood production. Molybdenum, another mineral found in these beans, plays a vital role in the body's enzyme processes. The beans are also a good source of folate, essential for DNA synthesis and repair, and potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance and nerve signals. Also, they contain manganese, which aids in metabolism, and vitamin K1, important for blood clotting.

When served with Jammu Basmati rice, the combination is not just a meal but an experience that brings a taste of Jammu's culinary heritage to the table. The Basmati rice, with its aromatic and fluffy grains, complements the creamy texture and rich flavors of the Rajma, creating a balanced and satisfying dish.

Part 1: Understanding Rajma, Rajmah, Rajmash, Razma, or Lal Lobia

                                                          Source

According to Wikipedia, rajma, also known as rajmah, rāzmā, rajmash, or lal lobia, is a vegetarian dish from the Indian subcontinent, featuring red kidney beans in a rich gravy with numerous Indian spices, often accompanied by rice. The dish is a staple in Northern India, Nepal, and Punjab in Pakistan. It traces its origins back to when red kidney beans were introduced to the Indian subcontinent from Mexico, leading to the creation of dishes like Rajma Chawal, where the beans are served with boiled rice.

The dish enjoys popularity in various regions, particularly in the Northern Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu's Jammu region, as well as in Pakistan and Nepal. Notably, the Rajma from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Jammu region is highly regarded, especially the variant from Chinta Valley in Bhaderwah, Doda district, known for its smaller size and slightly sweet taste.

Classification of Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Kidney beans, a type of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), are named for their shape, resembling human kidneys. These beans are integral to various global cuisines. For example, red kidney beans are a staple in Indian and Pakistani dishes, known as rajma and surkh lobia, respectively. In southern Louisiana, they're essential for red beans and rice, a traditional Creole dish served on Mondays. Caribbean-influenced Louisiana families often prefer the smaller, darker variety. 

In Jamaica, these beans are called red peas, while in Spain's La Rioja region, they're known as caparrones. The Netherlands and Indonesia feature kidney beans in brenebon, a hearty soup. In the Levant, fasoulia is a popular kidney bean stew paired with rice. Typically, kidney beans are boiled from a dried state until soft and can be mashed into a paste for various culinary uses.

As mentioned on Wikipedia, kidney beans are categorized into several types, including:

  1. Red kidney bean: Also known as the common kidney bean, rajma in India, and surkh lobia in Pakistan.
  2. Light speckled kidney bean: Includes a long shape variant.
  3. Red speckled kidney bean: Also comes in a long shape variant.
  4. White kidney bean: Known as cannellini in Italy, lobia in India, and safaid lobia in Pakistan.

Scientific Breakdown of Rajma

According to the Directorate of Pulses Development, here’s a general breakdown of kidney beans if you want to understand it in detail.

  • Botanical name - Phaseolus vulgaris L.
  • Synonym - Kidney bean, Common bean, Snap bean and French bean
  • Origin - Central America and south Mexico 

Rajmash stands out as a crucial legume crop known for its superior yield potential compared to gram and pea, necessitating targeted efforts in its development and policy-making. Cultivated across various Indian states including Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and the northeastern regions, it spans an area of 80-85 thousand hectares. 

The crop is increasingly being adopted in the rabi and summer seasons in the northern plains of India. While traditionally associated with the kharif season in the Himalayan hills, Rajmash demonstrates notable yield improvements during the rabi season in the plains, attributed to improved cultivation practices.

Other States recommended varieties

Here's a breakdown of recommended Rajmash (kidney bean) varieties for different states in India, apart from Jammu and Kashmir.


State

Recommended varieties

U.P. 

HUR-137, Malviya Rajmash-137

Uttarakhand

VL Rajmash 125, VL Bean-2

Gujrat

Gujrat Rajma-1

Karnataka

Arka Anup

Rajasthan

Ankur

Bihar

IPR 96-4 (Amber)

M.H. 

Varun (ACPR-94040), HPR-35


Cultivation Details

  • Soil Type & Preparation: Suitable for light loamy sand to heavy clay soil with adequate moisture and neutral pH. Acidic soils should be limed before sowing.
  • Sowing Time: Varies by region and season, with specific times for kharif, rabi, and spring.
  • Seed Rate & Spacing: Guidelines recommend 100-125 kg/ha, with specific spacing for different seasons.

Cropping System

Rajma is adaptable as both a sole crop and in intercropping systems, often paired with maize in the hills and with early potato in plains.

Plant Nutrient Management

Requires higher nitrogen application due to poor nodulation. Phosphorus is also critical, with a noted response to applications of 60-80 kg P2O5 per ha.

Water Management

Essential to provide 2-4 irrigations depending on the region, with critical timings at 25 and 75 days after sowing.

Weed Management

Effective control involves one hand weeding/hoeing at 30-35 days after sowing or applying a pre-emergence herbicide like pendimethalin.

Part 2: Cultivation and Significance of Pahadi Bhaderwah Rajma

Also known as the Mini Kashmir, Bhaderwah is a special place on the earth. It is bestowed with the goodness of nature as it is surrounded by evergreen vegetation, snow-capped mountains, and tumultuous transparent rivers. Bhaderwah rajma offers delightful taste and is renowned globally compared to other rajma which are grown in Ramban, Kishtwar, Doda districts of Jammu division of J&K.

It contains great cooking qualities, attracting color, and is easily digestible. Also, its grains are small in size and are unique in taste and color. 

Rajma Cultivation Practices in Doda and Kishtwar Regions

In the Doda district, particularly in areas like Bhaderwah, Sungli, and Thathri, as well as in Kishtwar's regions like Paddar and Chatroo, Rajmash cultivation is prominent. This crop is also grown in the Gool Gulabgarh area of Ramban district. Local farmers prioritize seed selection, often choosing the best genotypes from the previous harvest to ensure quality for the next planting season. 

To prepare the soil, it is thoroughly plowed several times with an MB plough and then planked to achieve the right tilth and retain moisture, which is crucial since both Rajmash and maize are prone to damage from excess water. The incorporation of organic matter is a critical step in enhancing soil health, with farmers typically applying 10-15 tonnes per hectare of well-decomposed manure or compost prior to sowing. This practice is complemented by the addition of specific amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to promote the crop's growth and increase yields, despite Rajmash's limited capability for nitrogen fixation.

Intercropping Rajmash and Maize: A Sustainable Agricultural Practice

For centuries, maize and a specific type of bean known as Rajmash have been cultivated together as intercrops, a practice that not only boosts the economy of hilly regions but also improves soil health. This method involves using the taller maize plants as natural supports for the climbing Rajmash, enhancing its growth and yield. The harvesting of Rajmash occurs in stages, with several pickings over intervals of 7 to 10 days to ensure all pods mature properly. This technique also aids in reducing soil erosion on sloped terrains, a common issue when only maize is cultivated.

Rajmash cultivation begins in April or May, utilizing a seed rate of 8 kg per hectare when intercropped with maize at a ratio of 30-35 kg per hectare (2:1). The recommended spacing is 30 cm between rows and 15-20 cm between plants, with a sowing depth of 5-8 cm. 

To safeguard young plants from diseases, seeds undergo treatment with Bavistin or Thiram at a rate of 2 grams per kilogram before planting. Optimal soil moisture is crucial for sowing. Early growth stages see Rajmash vulnerable to weed competition, necessitating the first hoeing and thinning process 30-45 days post-sowing, followed by additional weeding and thinning after 25-30 days. Weed management includes chemical treatments. In intercropping systems, Bhaderwah Rajmash benefits from maize's structural support. 

Harvest occurs 120-130 days post-sowing when leaves and pods display a yellowish-brown hue, although top leaves remain green until the end. To manage Anthracnose, a combined seed treatment using Bavistin (0.2%) and T.viridie (0.4%) is effective. Rajmash is harvested before maize, followed by a week of sun drying and threshing. Post-threshing, the seeds are cleaned and dried for storage in tin bins for up to two years. Yield in mixed cropping stands at 6-8 quintals per hectare.

Part 3: Health Benefits of Pahadi Bhaderwah Rajma


Here are the benefits of Bhaderwah Rajma which may help you enhance your dietary fiber intake, regulate blood sugar levels, improve heart health, and support strong bone development:

Nutritional Value and Metabolic Benefits

  • Rajma is rich in zinc, which can boost immunity and enhance skin health, acting as an antioxidant and contributing to a glowing complexion​​.
  • It may be beneficial for individuals with diabetes due to its low glycemic index and high fiber content, which may aid in slow sugar release, keeping you fuller for longer​​.

Cardiovascular and Blood Pressure Management

  • The potassium content in rajma may help control blood pressure by balancing the effects of sodium and aiding in sodium excretion through urine​​.
  • Rajma consumption is associated with lower cholesterol levels, attributed to its complex carbohydrates and dietary fibers that form a gel-like substance in the stomach, encapsulating cholesterol and preventing its reabsorption​​.

Bone Health and Energy Boost

  • Rich in calcium, rajma may contribute to strong bone structure and replenishes calcium reserves in the body​​.
  • Its iron content is crucial for energy production and supports efficient oxygen transport in the body​​.

Digestive Health and Detoxification

  • Dietary fibers in rajma enhance bowel health and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like colon cancer​​.
  • Kidney beans contain molybdenum, which helps detoxify the body from sulfites, common in processed foods​​.

Cognitive and Antioxidant Benefits

  • Vitamin B1 in rajma supports healthy cognitive function and memory, beneficial for overall brain health​​.
  • Manganese in rajma may aid in combating free radicals due to its antioxidative properties, placing kidney beans high on the list of antioxidant-rich foods​​.

Versatile Culinary Uses of Kidney Beans

Rajma can be incorporated into various dishes like salads, curries, and even wraps, making it a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in numerous ways while reaping its health benefits​ 

Why Do You Need to Soak Bhaderwah Rajma Before Cooking? 

Red kidney beans, including the Bhaderwah Rajma variety, must be soaked and then boiled properly before consumption due to the presence of phytohemagglutinin, a toxin. If these beans are not soaked and then heated to boiling for at least 10 minutes, they can retain this toxin, leading to severe food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pains. 

The soaking process helps to remove some of the toxins, and boiling ensures they are cooked thoroughly, destroying the toxin effectively. The FDA advises boiling for 30 minutes to fully eliminate the toxin. Cooking at temperatures below boiling, like in a slow cooker at 80°C (176°F), doesn't destroy the toxin, increasing the risk of food poisoning. Conversely, canned red kidney beans are precooked and safe to consume without further cooking.


Does Bhaderwah Rajma have a Geographical Indication (GI) Tag in Jammu and Kashmir?

Yes, Bhaderwah Rajma, a variety of red kidney beans from Bhaderwah in Jammu and Kashmir, has been granted a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Along with Bhaderwah Rajma, Sulai honey from the Doda and Ramban districts of Jammu and Kashmir also received the GI tag. The recognition of these products with GI tags is seen as a significant step in promoting these popular regional items on an international level, highlighting their unique qualities and origin​​.

The GI tag is an intellectual property right that acknowledges goods originating from a specific geographical location, possessing unique qualities or a reputation due to that origin. It protects the product from unauthorized use and helps in building its brand at an international level. The recognition promotes the product and also contributes to the economic prosperity of the local community, serving as a tool for socio-economic growth in the region​.

Nutritional Value of Bhaderwah Rajmah (per 100gm)

Protein

25.28

Total Fat

1.27

Total Ash

3.43

Moisture

9.19

Carbohydrates

60.18

Energy Value

355.86


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DISCLAIMER: All material provided is meant for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for a medical consultation. All readers are strongly encouraged to consult and work with an experienced healthcare practitioner. Individual results may vary.

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