“My love for Rajma Chawal is such that my mom makes it one time and I eat it for 3 meals after.”
I read this somewhere and I so totally identified with it. As kids whenever mom made Rajma Chawal, it used to be a feast. Rajma curry, rice and some cut onions — don’t need anything else. Rajma curry goes great with parathas and naan too but the quintessential pairing is of Rajma and rice. Spicy Rajma Masala with aromatic Basmati rice. mmmm… I am drooling as I write this :-p
My Rajma masala recipe is simple with a few whole and ground spices and a basic onion-tomato gravy. The spices used in the recipe can be found in almost all kitchens cooking Indian food. If you prefer, you can also use Rajma Masala spice mix. I don’t normally use spice premixes as I feel they have unnecessary ingredients and aren’t as fresh. Whole spices add a lot of aroma and flavour to the masala which is lacking in premixed spice blends. Actually I say “my recipe” but it’s not my recipe, I borrowed it from my mom, like many others. She always sticks to simple ingredients and doesn’t believe in any premix spice blends which are filling the supermarket shelves these days.
I use dry red kidney beans and not the canned ones. Again, trying to stay away from anything that comes in a bottle. The dried beans need to be soaked for at least 6-8 hours and best if done overnight. As a result making Rajma for a meal does need some planning the night before.
It is amazing how red kidney beans gravy is cooked in so many cuisines especially Mexican and other South American cuisine. I lived on veg burrito bowls when I was working in US in 2003 and Feijão sem carne when we were traveling in Brazil as there weren’t too many vegetarian options outside the city. They are a blessing for a vegetarian traveller like me and I am sure to find a Mexican joint everywhere we go. You can also make the recipe very thick by adding just little water and serve it with nachos for an Indian style nacho starter!
Rajma Chawal | Rajma Masala Curry
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 1 cup rajma/ red kidney beans , soaked overnight in 4 cups of water
- 2 tbsp oil
- a pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 green chilli , chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes , puréed
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp amchoor
- salt , to taste
- Drain the soaked rajma and pressure cook with sufficient water, salt and turmeric for 4-5 whistles until soft. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and keep aside to allow the steam to escape on its own.
- Heat oil in a deep pan on medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot add asafoetida, cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf and black cardamom in the oil. Stir for about 30 seconds. You can smell the aroma of spices as they are cooking.
- Add green chilli and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté for a minute.
- Add onions and sauté till the onion starts to brown. This would take about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the tomato purée. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add all the other spices. Stir well and cook till the mixture leaves oil on the sides. It takes around 10 minutes.
- By this time the steam from the pressure cooker would have escaped and you can safely open the cooker. Add the boiled rajma, along with the water it is boiled in, to the pan.
- Mix well and simmer for 5-10 minutes till the gravy is of desired consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
- If the red kidney beans are still not as soft as you would like then add some more water and cook covered for longer till they are soft enough or transfer the rajma masala to the pressure cooker and cook for another 2-3 whistles.
- Total time does not include the overnight soaking time for the red kidney beans.
- The type of Rajma used makes a lot of difference to the taste of Rajma masala and also the time it takes to cook. I use the small Jammu Rajma. If you are using bigger beans, soak them in warm water and also cook them for longer to soften.
- The same recipe can be used to cook other dry kidney beans too.
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Would love to start a conversation, share recipes, cooking experiences and food stories from India and around the world.
Is there a specific Brand of graham masala you recommend specifically for this recipe? Everyone is do different that Ive purchased…
I usually make my own garam masala (https://www.myweekendkitchen.in/garam-masala-recipe-homemade/) but you can use regular garam masala from an Indian store. Some brands I have found are very mild and lack flavour but you would be fine with any Indian brand.
I had never heard of this dish before, but some of my favorite spices are in this so that intrigues me. I admit I had to look up Asafoetida, but I like the healing properties of this spice.
This recipe can be thought of as the Indian vegetarian version of Feijão or other red kidney bean curries. Just this Wednesday I made this for a gathering here and I was told it s like Romanian Fasole! Amazing how red kidney beans are cooked in so many different and yet similar ways across cuisines!
Asafoetida is a an amazing digestive spice though it is very strong so we add just a pinch of it to almost every dish.
Thanks for stopping by!
I love Indian flavors, and have everything needed for this recipe in my pantry! One of the fun aspects of blogging is taking the recipes we grew up with, and making them accessible to our readers.
Totally agree with you on that! It is such a pleasure to share traditional recipes and it is so much encouraging when others find them useful 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and rating the recipe!
This looks so good! I have never heard of of tried this kind of curry, but I love all of the ingredients so I am sure I will love it!
you might have had a similar curry in one or the other cuisines as red kidney beans are very common in Mexican and the South American cuisines as well as in Eastern Europe!
I hope you do try it 🙂
This looks really good! Would totally eat it!
I love that you don’t buy any premixed spices, I don’t either. It really does make a difference in your cooking, the down side is that I have SO many single spices in my cabinet!!! This dish looks amazing!
Thanks so much 🙂 Using simpler spices really uplifts any dish and the down side is really an upside because imagine otherwise you would have so many spice premix boxes in your kitchen!
I totally adore rajma chawal and have grown up eating it. It’s one of my all time favourite comfort foods! Like you, I too prefer soaking my own beans instead of buying a can and using my own masala over the packaged one. It’s so much healthier this way. Thanks for posting your version… going to make it for lunch this weekend:)
I think all us Indians can connect over the love for Rajma Chawal! 🙂 I hope your family enjoyed a warm bowl of Rajma chawal weekend lunch! Thank you so much for sharing your love and rating the recipe!
This sounds amazing! And I actually have all the ingredients on hand right now – so this is definitely going on the meal plan for the week!
Awesome! 🙂 Do let me know if you have any questions and also how it turns out! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and rating the recipe! Really encourages me.
I love leftovers and it’s perfect that this recipe can provide that and for 3 days….yes!!! Looks amazing and super authentic! I’m going to have to make this one!!
I always make enough to ensure there is enough leftover! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and rating the recipe!
All time favourite. So flavorful and delicious
Same here! All time favourite 🙂
That spice mix is on point. Completely agree about making your own, and skipping the premade ones. Sounds absolutely amazing.
Thanks Debs for sharing your thoughts and rating the recipe! Really encourages me 🙂
This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try your recipe!
Can’t wait for you to try it! Do let me know if you have any questions and also how it turned out when you try it!
I enjoy learning more and more about traditional Indian cuisine, espessialy about dishes that you grow up with! It’s so interesting and inspiring to try it.
Thanks so much Tatiana! It really is a pleasure to write about traditional recipes. Sometimes I feel, it’s not my recipe, it actually is nobody’s recipe. Rajma has been made this way since ages in India, so what right do I have to post it as my own. And then I feel my experience of it is my own and I would love to share that. I am so glad you shared that you love learning about traditional cuisine. Really encourages me to keep improving!