This deep red, kidney-shaped bean is used a lot in Mexican cooking and in India is favoured in some Punjabi dishes where the beans are known as rajma.
Their strong colour, robust flavour and meaty texture makes them welcome additions to salads, soups and rice dishes.
IN THE KITCHEN
Dried beans require soaking in lots of cold water overnight (or for about 5 hours), then after draining and rinsing, put them in a pan, cover with 5cm of cold water and boil them hard for 10 minutes before the actual cooking begins. The vigorous boiling is especially important with red kidney beans as it is destroys any toxins they may contain. Skim off any foam from the surface, then lower the heat, add a pinch of salt, cover and simmer the beans gently for 1-1 ½ hours or until tender.
When soaking beans, put them in a large bowl as they can double in size, making sure they are well covered with water. Add just a pinch of salt to the cooking water as too much can toughen the skins.