This Rajma Masala is an Indian version of the Bean Chilli – Soft kidney beans cooked with exotic spices in an onion & tomato based gravy.
Kidney beans are referred to as Rajma in India. And the spicy gravy based dish that is commonly prepared is known as Rajma Masala. It is usually served with Rice or Roti. Rajma Chawal, a combination of the rajma masala and rice is one of the most popular meals served in many parts of Northern India.
Once a week, I get my dose of proteins from kidney beans. I like them in almost any form. Boiled, made into a patties, tossed with a salad dressing or cooked into this deliciously spicy curry. I like to serve Rajma with Jeera Rice. In my opinion, the mildly fragrant Basmati rice paired with a delicious bean curry has got to be the best meal ever.
Now, before we move on to the recipe, let me tell you what is different about this rajma masala recipe and why you should definitely try this one…
I cook the kidney beans – twice. Have you ever eaten under- cooked beans? They give you a tummy ache! I cook the beans once ahead of time to make them soft (you can probably skip this step if you’re using canned beans). Ten I like to cook them again with all the spices – so that the flavors seep deep into the beans.
Secondly, I like to blanch the onions, ginger and garlic – well. This reduces the pungency and makes for a subtly spiced gravy. You can directly grind the onion and tomato without blanching them too. You’ll probably end up wth a slightly more pungent gravy.
And finally, I almost always use the pressure cooker. It makes my life a lot more easier knowing I don’t having babysit the beans whilst they are cooking. If you cook rice & beans regularly, I suggest you invest in a pressure cooker too!
This recipe may involve a few more steps than a regular Rajma masala recipe. But trust me, none of these steps are difficult and you’re going to end up with a perfectly flavorful bowl of rajma!
Here is a quick video tutorial –
Rajma Masala – Printable Recipe
- ½ cup dry Kidney Beans (rajma)
- 1 whole peeled Onion
- 2 cloves peeled Garlic
- 1 inch peeled Ginger
- 2 medium Tomatoes
- 1 inch stick of Cinnamon
- 1 Bay Leaf (tej patta)
- 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala Powder
- 2 teaspoons Red Chilli Powder (adjust according to spiciness required)
- 1 teaspoons Coriander Seeds Powder (dhania powder)
- 2 teaspoons Salt (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vegetable or Canola Oil
- You can modify the recipe to use what you have on hand or make it easier
- If you have canned kidney beans, use them. Make sure they are soft but not too mushy
- Soak the dry beans in water overnight. Wash and rinse out the water.
- Add the beans to cooker. Fill up with water (cover the beans with water and then add a couple of cups more). Add 1-2 teaspoons salt and mix well.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger (whole) to the cooker too. You can save time by blanching them here itself.
- Close the cooker lid and let it cook for 8-10 whistles.
- Once the pressure releases, remove the beans (and save a cup of the water) onto a bowl.
- Watch out for a soft texture, but not overly mushy. The number of whistles can vary depending on the quality of your beans
- Add the washed beans, onion, ginger and clove and fill the sauce pan with water. Bring it to a boil.
- Let it cook on medium flame for around 20-30 minutes until the beans are cooked through.
- In a blender, add the blanched onion, garlic and ginger. Also add the tomato and grind to a smooth paste.
- In the same cooker / pan, heat oil. Add the cinnamon and bay leaf and let them fry until you smell an aroma (around 30 seconds)
- Add the onion-tomato paste and mix well. Keep stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add a cup of water (reserved bean water, if you have). Cook till it reduces.
- It will take around 4-5 minutes for the raw smell of the paste to disappear. Then add the dry spices - chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and sugar and mix well. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the mixtures turns into a paste and oil starts to come out from the sides of the pan.
- Add the cooked beans and mix well. Add 2 cups of water or enough to cover the beans and a little more. Mix well.
- Again close the cook lid and let it cook for 8-10 minutes. If you're making this on a saucepan, let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove, mix well. Fish out the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
- Serve as required
- Do not make the mistake of cooking dry kidney beans with the spices and gravy. It will take a long time to cook. Save the time by cooking the beans ahead of time.
- If you're using canned beans, make sure the beans are soft, but not too mushy.
Rajma Masala Recipe – Step by step pictures
Soak the kidney beans in water overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans well. To a pressure cooker, add the beans and fill the cooker with water. Also add the whole onion, garlic and ginger pieces. Cook for 8-10 whistles or until the kidney beans are soft and mash-able. (it may vary depending on the quality of your kidney beans)
Fish out the onions, garlic and ginger from the cooker and add them to a blender. Grind to a smooth paste. Add the blanched (or regular) tomatoes and give a blitz.
Heat oil in the same cooker (remove the kidney beans onto a bowl). Add a bay leaf and a stick of cinnamon and let them cook for a minute till the aroma comes. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
Add the spices – Garam masala, red chilli powder, dry coriander powder and mix well. Keep stirring frequenty so as to avoid burning. Once the paste reduces and you start to spot oil coming out on the sides of the pan, do a smell check to ensure that the raw smell of the spices & onion has gone away.
Add the kidney beans and mix well. Again cover the entire mixture with some water. Add salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Mix well and let the mixture come to a boil. Close the cooker lid and again let it cook for around 8-10 whistles. Let the pressure release completely. Open the pan, fish out the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
Serve with a bowl of rice or wholewheat tortillas