Rajma Masala: Kidney Beans, Indian Style

27 Aug

Rajma Masala

What takes time to cook is not necessarily complex. That statement is so true of rajma masala. To the uninitiated, this dish might give the impression that sophisticated culinary jugglery went into creating it. In truth this is one of the simpler gravies you could make in the Indian cuisine.

Like channa masala, rajma is eminently suited to party time bulk preparation. You just need to plan ahead and give it enough cooking time. Also like channa masala, it tastes better the next day!

You Need:

  • Rajma (red kidney beans) – 1 cup
  • Tomatoes – 4
  • Onions – 1
  • Ginger – 1-inch piece
  • Garlic – 6 cloves
  • Green chilies – 2, slit vertically
  • Chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – to taste

How To Make Rajma Masala:

Soak the rajma in five cups of water for at least 6 hours (longer if you are using large-sized rajma beans).

Drain. In a pressure cooker, boil the rajma with four cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Let the first whistle come on high heat, then pressure cook on low heat till the rajma is soft enough to give way when pressed with a spoon (about 20-30 minutes). The time of cooking will depend on the size of the kidney beans and the make of your pressure cooker. I was using large red kidney beans, mine took 30 minutes to get done.

Grind the onions, garlic and ginger together to a fine paste.

Heat the oil in a flat-bottomed pan. Pop in slit green chilies. When the chilies change color, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste. Fry on medium-high heat till the paste turns golden-brown.

Add coriander powder, cumin powder and red chili powder. Mix well and cook for a minute.

Puree the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high and mix in the tomato puree along with some salt. Cook, stirring frequently till the oil begins to leave the sides of the pan (8-10 minutes).

Mix in the boiled rajma at this stage along with a cup of the water it was cooked in – add more if you want a thinner gravy. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When nearly done, stir in garam masala.

To Serve:

On individual bowls of hot rajma, sprinkle finely chopped onions and coriander leaves. Serve rajma masala with plain yogurt and a steaming bowl of rice.

Rajma Masala: Red Kidney Beans in Tomato Gravy

Update (15-Aug-2015): My meal today: boiled brown rice, rajma masala, and banana blossoms with mustard ginger seasoning.

Rajma Masala with Brown Rice

6 Responses to “Rajma Masala: Kidney Beans, Indian Style”

  1. Rajani August 27, 2011 at 4:20 PM #

    This looks yummy ;P

    • S August 27, 2011 at 4:47 PM #

      Thanks Rajani!

  2. Zubin George February 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM #

    As a newbie to cooking with a sudden interest, I tried this out and I must say, great instructions. The rajma did take a good half an hour after numerous whistles of the cooker to finally get cooked. I tried adding some baking soda to fasten things up, it wasnt a great idea because of an undertaste which developed in the Rajma(I assumed i added a trifle too much). Nonetheless, thanks for the clear and lucid illustrations

    • S February 25, 2012 at 11:10 AM #

      Hi Zubin, Good to hear your feedback. I normally avoid baking soda, prefer to cook my rajma and chhole for a longer time. With enough soaking and a pressure cooker, there is really no need of it I think.

  3. Alexander van Loon October 26, 2012 at 12:10 AM #

    Thanks for this recipe and all the other recipes on your awesome website S! This recipe has taken its place among my regular recipes, even if most of my family somehow doesn’t like kidney beans. My mother and I find nothing wrong with the taste however.

    One question though, what about canned kidney beans? I used the canned variety today, and obviously they don’t need extra cooking before the start of the recipe because they are already soft? And at the end of the recipe, the 15 to 20 minutes of simmering won’t be necessary?

    I’ve also got some dry, i.e. non-canned kidney beans lying around. Do you use that non-canned variety because you think they taste better or something?

    • S October 26, 2012 at 12:27 AM #

      Hi Alexander, So good to know you like the recipes on my site. You’re right about canned kidney beans – they won’t need extra cooking at the start, though I would still simmer at the end to let all the flavors fuse well. I use dried kidney beans and dried garbanzo beans mainly because the dried variety is more easily accessible in India. But if I had a choice I’d still go for dried over canned – the canned variety is usually high on sodium and has a certain odor that I don’t take well to.

Leave a Reply