The famed Munsyari rajma derives its name from Munsyari, situated at the entrance of Johar valley (used to be an important trade route with Tibet in ancient times) in Uttarakhand at an altitude of 7,200 feet. Munsyari rajma or rajmash as it is popularly known is a valuable cash crop grown in North Western Himalayan region.
Munsyari is essentially a conglomeration of revenue villages where the villages of Bauna, Taumik, Kurijimia, Pato, Golfa, Jalath, Gorhpata, Bothi and Daranti cultivate rajma using traditional practices. As these areas receive a lot of snowfall, many villages are seasonally occupied during the months of May to early November.
Rajma is generally grown as a major kharif pulse and in the spring season. This pulse is mainly grown by the Bhotiya community with more than 80 percent of women involved in the cultivation who have been recognized as women farmers.
The cultivation process of Munsyari rajma is typical to this geographical area. The village community strictly adopts traditional farming and production methods that have been followed for generations. Maximum things are done manually in the land due to the height and slope on the hilly area. As this region receives good snowfall in the winter season and up till April, the soil is rich with the right amount of moisture after the snow has melted. The soil health is excellent with good quality organic matter. The well-drained loamy soil found here is well-suited for rajma cultivation. Cultivation of rajma happens between May to September.
The cultivation of rajma is done as a mixed crop in potato and maize fields. Records say that around 100 – 120 hectares of land in Munsyari region is under cultivation of rajma with an annual production of 1000 – 1200 quintals at an estimated value of Rs 50 – 60 lakhs per annum. Munsyari rajma also commands a premium of Rs 5 – 10/kg more than other varieties sold in the market.
This indigenous rajma is packed with nutrients and is an integral part of the traditional cuisine. As this pulse is grown in mineral rich soil, it is a great source of soluble fibre, protein and phytochemicals and has low glycemic index and protects one from oxidative stress, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.
This small sized kidney bean has a unique and subtle texture, softness, sweetness and aroma and takes 25 to 30 minutes lesser cooking time as compared to other varieties of rajma. The white rajma is large with a thin white skin and has high mineral content of Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc. The light earthy flavour of cooked rajma with local spices is extremely enticing and often had with rice and roti.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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