Rajma masala is one of the most popular vegan dishes from North India, made by cooking kidney beans in an onion tomato gravy flavored with Indian spices. The combination of this vegan and gluten-free curry with Basmati rice is comfort food for almost every Indian.
‘Rajma Chawal’, a divine combination of food- just like some very popular combinations of the west like strawberry-cream, peanut butter-jelly, cookies-milk, macaroni-cheese. Rajma-chawal is one of the most popular combinations of food from North India but equally loved by the entire country.
Rajma is the Hindi word for kidney beans and Chawal for rice.
And, today I am sharing the recipe of an Indian curry made with Rajma called Rajma Masala.
What is Rajma Masala?
Though I doubt there is any Indian who is not aware of Rajma Masala, I am explaining this to my readers from other countries who don't know what this dish is.
Rajma Masala is a gluten-free and most of the time vegan (some people use ghee i.e. clarified butter to make it so it can be vegetarian too) curry made by cooking kidney beans in a delicious onion tomato gravy flavored with Indian spices.
It’s the main course dish and you can enjoy it in your lunch as well as dinner.
You will find Rajma chawal everywhere in India, from roadside stalls to five-star hotels.
Back, during my MBA days when I was staying in the university’s hostel, one dinner from every week was fixed for Rajma Chawal and during dinner time on those days, it was really difficult to find a seat in the hostel mess.
It’s a simple feast for every Indian and is equally relished by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
What to eat with it?
By now you must have guessed that the best way to enjoy Rajma Masala is with rice, especially steamed Basmati rice. You can also serve it with jeera rice or any other rice dish of your choice.
If you don't like rice, then serve it with roti, paratha, poori or any other Indian bread of your choice.
You can also enjoy it just like that without anything else if you want to enjoy a bowl of spiced kidney bean soup.
Recipe tips & tricks
It’s a very simple recipe but cooking takes time. And, if you take care of the following simple points, you will make perfect Rajma every time:
- Avoid using canned beans to make Rajma. Instead, wash and soak dried kidney beans for at least 7-8 hours, then cook at home to get the right texture and flavor.
- Always buy the fresh stock of good quality kidney beans otherwise it won't get cooked properly.
- Don't over or undercook Rajma. It should neither be too hard nor mushy. In a perfectly cooked rajma, the beans should not lose shape but should get mashed easily when pressed between two fingers.
- Another very important tip is to patiently cook onions and then tomatoes till they attain the required color and texture. The onion should be cooked till it gets a nice golden brown color and tomatoes till they get nicely fried with spices and get a bright red color.
Can Rajma be made without a pressure cooker?
As mentioned in almost all my bean recipes, though it's possible to cook Rajma in a normal pot, the cooking process will be too long (at least 2 hours). So, it's always convenient to have a pressure cooker or instant pot in the kitchen if you want to cook Indian beans or lentils.
More vegan beans curry recipes
Looking for more beans curry recipes? Don't miss to check out the following recipes on my blog:
- Mixed Beans Curry
- Kale Chane ka shorba
- Chickpea curry
- Black-eyed peas curry
- Indian vegetable curry
- White bean curry
- Chickpea and potato curry
More red kidney bean recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe and want to try more kidney bean recipes then do check out the following links:
Step by step photo instructions
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- 1 cup dried kidney beans
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 1 small piece of ginger around 1-inch piece
- 2 green chilies adjust as per taste
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2-3 black peppercorns
- 2-3 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ tbsp coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- Salt as per taste
- 1 tbsp any cooking oil of your choice
- Wash and soak the kidney beans for at least 7-8 hours or overnight.
- Put the soaked kidney beans, around 3 cups of water, and salt in a pressure cooker. Cook on medium flame till around 5 whistles or till the beans get cooked nicely without losing the shape.
- In a grinder add the onion, garlic, ginger and make a paste. Take out the paste in a bowl and keep aside. In the same grinder make a paste of tomatoes and green chilies, keep it aside.
- Heat oil in a pot and add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, and cumin seeds. Saute for a few seconds or till the spices become fragrant.
- Add the onion paste and cook for around 12-15 minutes or till the paste turns golden brown. Every time the onion paste starts sticking to the bottom add around 1-2 tablespoons of water, mix, and continue cooking until it starts turning golden brown.
- Next, add in the tomato paste and all the dry spices except garam masala. Mix well and cook for around 10-12 minutes till the tomatoes are nicely cooked with the spices.
- Once the masala is ready, add the cooked beans, coriander leaves, and the water in which beans were cooked. Add more water if required. Allow to cook for about 7-8 minutes.
- Finally, add the garam masala and cook for another 1-2 minutes before switching off the gas.
- Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice or roti.