This is my mother-in-law’s simple homemade Punjabi rajma recipe. It has no frills, no special ingredients yet it makes the most comforting bowl of rajma. The kidney beans are pressure cooked and then an onion-tomato masala is added to them and they are cooked again until the masala and the rajma are very well combined with each other.
Like they say a good punjabi rajma should be “rassa hua” meaning the spices, masala, rajma should be intermixed so well with each other and the rajma should melt in mouth and this recipe makes just that kind of rajma. It is like a hug in a bowl!
Rajma is something I have grown to love in the last 10 years or so. It wasn’t something that was my favorite growing up but now I find it so comforting. My go to Rajma Masala recipe is something we often enjoy with a bowl of rice over the weekend. However there’s one more version which is extra-comforting and I wanted to share it with you all here.
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe, she makes it in a very different way than me. Isn’t that the beauty of cooking? We can all use the same spices etc. yet the end result can taste so different based just on how the ingredients were added and cooked. I learned this recipe from her, it’s a simple, homestyle Punjabi recipe and it truly makes the most comforting bowl of rajma you will ever have.
The kidney beans melt in your mouth in this recipe, they are that soft. She makes the masala separately for this homestyle Punjabi rajma and then adds it to the pressure cooked rajma and then pressure cooks it again.
You can make this Punjabi rajma recipe with basic pantry staples.
Dry Kidney beans: we simply call them “rajma” as well in Hindi. It’s funny how the dish “rajma” is so popular that the bean itself is named after the dish. You can use either light or dark kidney beans, for this recipe I used dark kidney beands.
Onion & tomatoes: the base of the curry is made with onions and tomatoes, like a lot of other Indian dishes.
Spices: this homestyle rajma uses basic Indian spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala. There’s also a little fennel powder in this recipe.
Step by Step Instructions
1- Rinse and soak 1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) of kidney beans (rajma) overnight in 4 to 5 cups water. In the morning, the beans would be much bigger in size. Drain all the water in which the rajma was soaked and rinse the beans.
2- Now add the rinsed and drained rajma to a pressure cooker. Add 3 & 1/2 cups of fresh water along with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3- Stir and close the pressure cooker. Cook on high initially, once you hear 1 to 2 whistles, lower the heat to medium-low and let it cook for 30 minutes.
4- While the rajma is cooking, make the masala. Put a pan on medium heat and add 1 & 1/2 tablespoon oil to it. You can use any oil, I have used avocado oil here. Add 1 finely grated large onion (200 grams) to the pan. You can also puree the onions or very finely chop using a food processor.
5- Cook the onions for 7 to 8 minutes until the moisture dries out completely from the onion, there’s no raw smell and the onions look light golden brown in color. Keep stirring frequently while cooking the onions.
6- Then add 1 & 1/2 teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
7- Add in 2 medium pureed tomatoes (215 grams) and stir. Cook the tomatoes for 5 to 6 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked, stir often.
8- Then add the spices:
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or use regular chili powder for heat)
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel powder
- a little less than 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
9- Stir and cook the spices for 1 to 2 minutes. The masala is now done.
10- Then remove the pan from heat and remove the masala into a bowl.
11- Once the 30 minutes are up, let the pressure from the pressure cooker release naturally. This happens alongside while you make the masala so by the time the masala is done, the rajma has also pressure cooked and the pressure cooker is ready to be opened.
Open the pressure cooker, the kidney beans are soft by now.
12- Add the prepared masala to the pressure cooker now.
13- Stir until the masala is well mixed with the rajma. Now add 1/2 to 1 cup more water at this point and stir.
14- Close the pressure cooker with the lid. Now, pressure cook again, this time on medium heat for exactly 10 minutes. You want the heat to be medium at all times during this 2nd pressure cooking time. It’s fine if you never get the whistle (but it’s okay if you get one too, so don’t worry about that).
15- After 10 minutes, turn off heat and let the pressure release naturally. Now, once the pressure has released, open the cooker, and turn on the heat again on low-medium. Let the rajma simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. towards the last 5 minutes, add in 1/4 teaspoon garam masala.
16- Tastes test and adjust salt as needed, I added 1/4 teaspoon more here. You can also add more water as the rajma is simmering to make it thinner and adjust the consistency as needed. This rajma makes quite thick rajma so keep that in mind. It will also continue to thicken as it cools.
After simmering for 15 mins, the rajma is now done. Enjoy with rice!
Can You Make This in Instant Pot?
So this might be just me, the one who grew up eating the best rajma around Delhi but in my humble opinion, rajma never gets to that melt in mouth consistency in the Instant Pot. However, if you are not so picky about the super soft rajma consistency, then yes you can make this in the Instant Pot.
Pressure cook on bean/chili mode for 30 to 35 minutes and let the pressure release naturally. For the second time, pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Let it simmer on sauté for 10 to 15 minutes for the final step.
Tips & Notes
- My mother-in-law told me that she sometimes cooks the pureed onion in advance until all the moisture dries out and it turns this light golden brown in color and then freeze it. This saves her time on the day of actually making the rajma.
- As is often the case with dishes like chole and rajma, they taste even better the next day. So, the leftovers are even better for lunch!
- This Punjabi rajma recipe isn’t spicy, to make it spicier you can add a finely chopped green chili along with the onion. You can also add some hot red chili powder along with the spices.
- The consistency of this rajma is on the thicker side, you can add more water to make it thinner. The rajma thickens more as it cools down.
- This rajma has a melt-in-mouth consistency, so don’t expect the kidney beans to be firm to bite.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may, but cooking kidney beans on stove-top will take a very long time. For this recipe, we want the beans to be super soft, and melt-in-mouth and achieving that consistency will take hours. Also, this style rajma is just better in the pressure cooker.
Yes, this recipe is vegan as is!
White rice is a classic combination and you can’t go wrong with it. But you can also serve the rajma with brown rice or quinoa or even with roti with a side of a sabzi.
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Homestyle Punjabi Rajma
- 1 & 1/2 cups rajma/dry kidney beans 300 grams
- 4-5 cups water divided, as needed
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoon oil 22 ml, I used avocado oil
- 1 large red onion 200 grams, very finely chopped using a food processor or pureed
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 2 medium tomatoes 215 grams
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or use regular chili powder to make it spicy
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- Rinse and soak the kidney beans (rajma) overnight in 4 to 5 cups of water. In the morning, drain the water in which the rajma was soaked and rinse the beans.Add the rinsed and drained beans to a pressure cooker. Add 3 & 1/2 cups of fresh water along with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Close the lid and pressure cook in high heat for 1 to 2 whistles. Once it gets 1-2 whistles, lower the heat to medium-low and let it cook for 30 mins.
- Work on the masala while the kidney beans are cooking. To a pan on medium heat and add 1 & 1/2 tablespoon oil. Then add finely grated onions (or pureed onions).
- Stir often and cook the onions for 7 to 8 minutes until they turn light golden brown in color and have no raw smell. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the pureed tomatoes, and cook the tomatoes for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often until the tomatoes are soft and done. Then add the coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, fennel powder, turmeric powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook the spices for 1 to 2 minutes. The masala is now done, you can remove it in a bowl.
- Once the 30 minutes are up, let the pressure from the pressure cooker release naturally. This happens alongside while you make the masala so by the time the masala is done, the rajma has also pressure cooked and the pressure cooker is ready to be opened. Open the pressure cooker, the kidney beans are soft by now.
- Now add the prepared masala to the pressure cooker. Stir and add 1/2 to 1 cup more water at this point. Close the lid and pressure cook again on medium heat for a total of 10 minutes. You don't really want a whistle at this point, so don't put the cooker on high heat.
- After 10 minutes, turn off heat and let the pressure release naturally. Now, once the pressure has released, open the cooker, and turn on the heat again on low-medium. Let the rajma simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes. towards the last 5 minutes, add in the garam masala.
- Tastes test and adjust salt as needed, I added 1/4 teaspoon more here. You can also add more water as the rajma is simmering to make it thinner and adjust the consistency as needed. This rajma makes quite thick rajma so keep that in mind. It will also continue to thicken as it cools. After simmering for 15 mins, the rajma is now done. Serve hot with rice!
- Make it spicier by adding green chilies or hot red chili powder to the recipe.
- This recipe does make a thick consistency rajma, you can make it a little thinner by adding more water but don’t make it super thin.
- The kidney beans in this recipe melt-in-your mouth, that’s the consistency this rajma has. So, don’t expect to bite into firm kidney beans.
8 thoughts on “Homestyle Punjabi Rajma”
Is there any good way to make this without a pressure cooker or would you say it’s necessary?
for this recipe, it is necessary. It’s a very specific way that my mother in law makes and I think for that texture, we need a pressure cooker. You can check the other rajma recipe that I have on the blog and make that, for that you cook the kidney beans in a open pot if you want and then cook the masala in a pan: https://www.cookwithmanali.com/rajma-masala/
This is a fantastic recipe! I made this yesterday in the instant pot. Kidney beans are not my favorite bean to work with, but the picture convinced me to make it. I used one tablespoon of fresh grated ginger and a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of the paste and also added one chopped serrano pepper . I soaked for 9 hours, bean/chile mode for 40min, pressure cooked for 10min, and simmered for 20min….then they sat on warm until ready to eat.
The beans looked firm but were very tender….perfect.
Thank you and your mother-in-law very much;-)!!
so glad you enjoyed it!
Do you have instructions for the Rajma using an Instant Pot pressure cooker please?
please look through the recipe, there’s a paragraph on instant pot
1. How would you cook the kidney beans in an instant pot? Not familiar with whistles.
2. Can I finely mince the 3/4 tsp. each garlic and ginger? Not familiar with garlic-ginger paste.
there’s a section titled “Can you Make this in the Instant Pot” in the recipe post, please have a look. Ginger-garlic paste is easily available at all Indian grocery stores and also super easy to make at home. But yes you can use minced ginger and garlic as well.