Rajma Masala – Kidney Beans Curry

    Rajma Masala

    One day after inviting someone over for dinner, I was deciding on the menu and making my grocery list. And then this thought crossed my mind – in north India we do not have much options when we call someone over for dinner, or let’s put it that way we have options but we always stick to the traditional menu. So the main course is always one of these – chole (chickpeas curry), dal makhni (creamy lentil curry) and rajma masala (kidney bean curry). Then there are 2-3 other sides dishes [out of which one will always be paneer!] and some then some yogurt dish. 80% of menu in every household will be similar and I can bet on this. As far as vegetarian options are concerned, more often than not people in north cannot think beyond these 3 options!

    Rajma curry is basically made using raw kidney beans which are soaked and then cooked with onions, tomatoes and a special blend of spices called “rajma masala powder”. This spice blend has a lot of spices in it like dry mango, nutmeg, coriander, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, cardamom, mace etc. All these spices are powdered together and sold as “rajma masala powder”, which is easily available at any Indian grocery store.

    Rajma Masala Recipe

    In Delhi, rajma is always eaten with rice, popularly known as “rajma-chawal”. In fact if you ask Delhiites, half of them will say rajma-chawal is their favorite dish. It is that popular! However I was not very fond of rajma growing up, I don’t know I never liked the way it was cooked in my home. I guess the curry was too watery for my taste. But I fell in love with rajma ever since I started making it. I keep the curry thick and cook it for quite some time on medium-low heat. The prolonged slow cooking brings out the flavor of all the spices which gets blended beautifully with the kidney beans.

    Indian Rajma Masala

    I like my rajma even better the next day. The kidney beans soak in all the spices and it tastes divine if you eat it the next day for lunch, trust me on that! This curry is super delicious and a great way to include some protein in your diet.

     

    Method

    In a large bowl soak 1.25 cups of rajma (kidney beans) in enough water for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight. In the morning the rajma will more than double in size [around 3 cups].

    In a pressure cooker add the rajma, 4.5 cups water, turmeric, salt and 2 tea bags [if using and no they will not add any tea flavor to the curry but will only make the beans darker in color]. Stir and cook on high for 1-2 whistle, then set the heat to medium and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

    The rajma is done when you can easily press it between your fingers. Remove the tea bags and set aside but do not discard the water in which you boiled the rajma. We will use the same water in the curry later on.

     

    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-1

    Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat, once the oil is hot add bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Saute for a minute.

    Add finely chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes till translucent.

    Add ginger-garlic paste and cook till raw smell goes away. This will take 3-4 minutes.
    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-2

    Once the ginger-garlic is done, add the fresh tomato puree and mix.

    Cover the pan and let it cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir once or twice in between.

    After 10-12 minutes, the tomatoes are done when there’s no raw smell. Cooking tomato for 10 minutes is crucial, the curry tastes good only when they are cooked well. So 10 minutes might sound like a lot of time but believe me it’s just what is required.

    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-3

    Add the dry spices – cumin powder, rajma masala coriander powder and red chilli powder. Also add the salt and mix.

    Cook the spices for 2 minutes or till oil starts oozing from the sides.

    Add the cooked rajma and mix.

    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-4

    Add water to the curry [the same water which we used to boil the rajma]. You can add 1/2 cup more water here.

    Cover the pan and cook the rajma curry for 20 minutes on medium-low heat.

    After 20 minutes, the curry will thicken, you can adjust the consistency to preference. I like my rajma curry to be thick. Also check the salt and adjust accordingly. Switch off the flame.

    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-5

    In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil. Once hot add ginger julienne and chopped green chilli.

    Saute for 1-2 minutes till they turn light brown in color.

    Transfer tempering to the rajma masala. Also add chopped coriander leaves, crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), garam masala and mix.

    Rajma Masala-Recipe-Step-6

    Garnish with more coriander leaves and serve immediately with rice or naan/roti.

    Rajma Recipe

    * Adjust consistency of curry to taste. I love to keep my rajma curry thick, you can add more water if you prefer a thinner curry.

    * I used raw kidney beans and soaked them in water overnight. You can use 3 cups of canned kidney beans in place.

    * Using tea bags is optional, I used 2 to darken the kidney beans because I used light colored kidney beans. If you use the darker ones, you can skip using the tea bags. And yes tea bags do not bring in any tea flavor to the curry so don’t worry about it! They just help to darken the curry.

    * This recipe is all Vegan except the last bit where ghee (clarified butter) is used. For a vegan version just skip ghee and use oil in place.

    Rajma Masala

    Indian kidney beans curry cooked with onions, tomatoes and a special blend of spices.
    Course Main Course
    Cuisine Indian
    Keyword rajma
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 310 kcal
    Author: Manali
    5 from 4 votes
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    Ingredients

    • 1.25 cups rajma, soaked in enough water overnight or use 3 cups canned kidney beans
    • 4.5 cups + ½ cup water, ½ cup to be added later on
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2-3 green cardamom pods
    • 3 black cardamom
    • 1-2 cinnamon stick
    • 2 onion, finely chopped
    • 1.5 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
    • 4 tomatoes, made into a puree
    • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
    • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
    • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
    • 2 teaspoons rajma masala powder
    • salt, to taste

    To garnish

    • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
    • 1 inch ginger, cut into juliennes
    • 1-2 green chili, chopped fine
    • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed [dried fenugreek leaves]
    • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
    • ¼ teaspoon garam masala

    Instructions

    1. In a large bowl soak 1.25 cups of rajma (kidney beans) in enough water for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
    2. In a pressure cooker add the rajma, 4.5 cups water, turmeric, salt and 2 tea bags [if using]. Stir and cook on high for 1-2 whistle, then set the heat to medium and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
    3. The rajma is done when you can easily press it between your fingers. Remove the tea bags and set aside.
    4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat, once the oil is hot add bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Saute for a minute.
    5. Add finely chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes till translucent.
    6. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook till raw smell goes away. This will take 3-4 minutes.
    7. Once the ginger-garlic is done, add the fresh tomato puree and mix.
    8. Cover the pan and let it cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir once or twice in between.
    9. After 10-12 minutes, the tomatoes are done when there's no raw smell.
    10. Add the dry spices - cumin powder, rajma masala coriander powder and red chilli powder. Also add the salt and mix.
    11. Cook the spices for 2 minutes or till oil starts oozing from the sides.
    12. Add the cooked rajma and mix.
    13. Add water to the curry [the same water which we used to boil the rajma]. You can add 1/2 cup more water here.
    14. Cover the pan and cook the rajma curry for 20 minutes on medium-low heat.
    15. After 20 minutes, the curry will thicken, you can adjust the consistency to preference. Switch off the flame.
    16. In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil. Once hot add ginger julienne and chopped green chilli.
    17. Saute for 1-2 minutes till they turn light brown in color.
    18. Transfer tempering to the rajma masala. Also add chopped coriander leaves, crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), garam masala and mix.
    19. Serve hot with rice or any Indian bread.
    Nutrition Facts
    Rajma Masala
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 310 Calories from Fat 153
    % Daily Value*
    Total Fat 17g 26%
    Saturated Fat 3g 15%
    Cholesterol 9mg 3%
    Sodium 53mg 2%
    Potassium 444mg 13%
    Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
    Dietary Fiber 21g 84%
    Sugars 6g
    Protein 8g 16%
    Vitamin A 22.4%
    Vitamin C 34.5%
    Calcium 5.6%
    Iron 8.1%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

     

     

    30 thoughts on “Rajma Masala – Kidney Beans Curry

    1. Yum, this looks so good! My family is from the Mumbai area, so I rarely get to eat rajma. But we went to Delhi one year and in the suite we stayed at, they prepared it for us and it was SO good! It was so nice to get a taste of authentic north Indian food.

      But yeah, I also remember it being thick and good. I will definitely try this recipe when I’m craving it!!

      1. Thanks Karishma! Yeah I can imagine…it’s not that popular in Mumbai & even down south! But Delhi people just love Rajma, so I grew up eating it often 🙂

    2. Thanks for adding step by step pictures. I am horrible at making curries and for some reason I keep trying again and again because I love them. Rajma masala sounds interesting. Both my boys love kidney beans so I might have to give this a try. Fingers crossed that I can make this work 🙂 Is it very spicy? My boys are 1 and 3 and don’t handle heat very well.

      1. Thanks Vanessa! making curries is easy, you only need patience…slow cooking for a longer time enhances the flavor of any curry…that will be my no.1 tip to u! I’m sure you can ace it with little practice! Regarding this recipe…yes it’s little spicy…not very because I am also not fond of very spicy food but it might be a bit too much for kids…you can cut down on all the spices…add half of all the spices that are mentioned and it should be fine 🙂

    3. You are a posting machine, I can’t keep up! I have never tried kidney bean curry but now I shall have to. Thank you for another wonderful recipe Manali!

      1. I have used store bought rajma masala here, (I am assuming you are talking about the rajma masala powder here). I will try to post a recipe for homemade rajma masala!

    4. Hi Manali. I’m looking for a Punjabi Rajma recipe. I have your cookbook and tried the rajma recipe in it and loved it! But because it wasn’t Punjabi flavors, so my hubby wasn’t a fan. But I loved it! Is this one a Punjabi style rajma recipe? I thought I had seen one on the blog a few months back and can’t find that one now.


    5. You’ve captured the Dilliwalon ki Pasand taste and you’ve written the recipe and instructions so very well! The critical steps (10 minutes to thoroughly cook the tomato mix!) are clearly explained. The garnish at the end is not something I had tried before and it’s beautiful. Thank you and I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes.


    6. Hey Manali, i tried this n it came out really well. First time i enjoyed eating rajma. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


    7. This recipe is so easy and nice to follow. And the best part is the end result is delicious. I love the way you have explained each step, I followed it to the T and got my desired result – which generally does not happen in most recipes.

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