A Punjabi get-together isn’t complete until they have platefuls of Rajma Chawal. It is time already that it should be declared the staple food for them. So, here is a bummer. They may hate this story and put its author on their to-kill radar, but we will still risk writing it. That’s for the sake of our health, of course. The story isn’t about rajma chawal, though, but only rajma. That’s some relief?
Full disclosure: Rajma, or kidney beans, are harmful or even poisonous, when you consume them raw or undercooked. In fact, they may still be harmful when they are cooked at a temperature that’s lesser than 100 degree Celsius. However, they are safe when they are properly cooked in a certain way. Here, we will talk about all the scenarios.
Kidney beans have a toxin that is called Phytohaemagglutin. It is contained in many other varieties of beans but its concentration is particularly high in red kidney beans. And so, less than a handful, or even mere 4 to 5 raw or undercooked beans are potent enough to make you fall sick.
It is reported that 20 per cent of the annual food poisoning cases happen after consuming kidney beans! The symptoms that can develop after consuming beans that are not properly cooked can be diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting within two to three hours of consuming them.
Scenario 1: When you eat them raw or undercooked: This is most likely to happen when you eat them in salads or sandwiches, though it can also happen when you consume them as a curry and they remain undercooked. The study which stated the harms of undercooked or raw beans was published in the journal “Epidemiology and Infection”. It found that eating them without cooking them properly can lead to the symptoms such as mentioned above.
Scenario 2: When you cook them at low temperatures: If your kidney beans have been cooked at a temperature that is below 180 degree Fahrenheit or 83 degree Celsius, you still run the risking of catching a gastro-infection.
Scenario 3: When you soak the beans but don’t boil them enough: Many follow the habit of soaking the beans overnight and boiling them for 2 to 3 minutes before cooking them. This is also harmful as it doesn’t kill the haemagglutin that is present in them. Such beans can also lead to stomach problems.
Scenario 4: When they are thoroughly cooked and boiled for at least 10 minutes: This is the perfect way to go about if you are a kidney bean lover and want to keep stomach infections at bay. Only soaking the beans overnight isn’t enough. They need to be boiled for at least 10 minutes to completely destroy the haemagglutin traces in it. This way they are perfectly healthy to be had.