Rajma masala | vegan kidney bean curry step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
What is rajma masala
Rajma masala is a delicious and flavourful curry made with red kidney beans which are cooked in a luscious onion-tomato base. This popular Punjabi dish tastes best with rice but can be enjoyed with roti too. Rajma-chawal (rajma curry served with steamed white rice) is a classic combination that is loved by all.
Typically, raw kidney beans are soaked overnight, boiled in a pressure cooker, and simmered in an onion-tomato and spices gravy. However, they also taste good if you use canned kidney beans. I use both fresh tomatoes and tomato puree (or passata) here. Fresh tomatoes give it a great taste and tomato puree adds thickness and a nice deep colour to the curry.
Rajma or kidney beans are a very good plant-based protein source. It is rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins. They are also rich in fiber and also are a natural diuretic.
Raw/dried versus canned kidney beans
I highly recommend using raw/dried kidney beans to make this curry. Raw kidney beans must be soaked overnight (or for at least 8 hours), the soaking water discarded, and then boiled in a pressure cooker (or instant pot). But if you have not planned ahead for making this curry, you may substitute it with canned kidney beans. Use the canned kidney beans along with all its liquor.
Raw dried kidney beans absorb a lot of water when soaked. Here, I am using 1 ½ cups of dried chickpeas, which gives me around 4 cups of cooked kidney beans. If you are using canned kidney beans, measure 4 cups of kidney beans along with its liquor for this recipe.
Rajma: Or red kidney bean, this is the main ingredient of this dish.
Onions: I use finely chopped red onions to make this curry. Make sure the onions are chopped finely as this will help in making a smooth curry base.
Ginger and garlic: Add lots of ginger and garlic. I prefer to use grated garlic cloves over garlic paste in this dish; however, you may replace it with garlic paste.
Tomatoes: I use tomatoes in two forms – fresh and tomato puree. Fresh tomatoes give it a great taste and tomato puree adds thickness and deep red colour to the curry.
Spices: I use coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida (hing), and bay leaves.
Kasuri methi: This is dried fenugreek leaves. This is an optional ingredient but I highly recommend using it.
Step by step instructions
Cook rajma in a pressure cooker until completely done (step 1).
Heat oil and fry onions until golden (steps 2,3).
Add ginger and garlic (step 4).
Add the powdered spices and saute (steps 5,6).
Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Let it cook until the tomatoes are completely done (steps 7,8).
Add the boiled rajma along with its cooking liquor (steps 9,10).
Mix well and let it simmer for 10 minutes (step 11).
Add Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), garam masala, and coriander leaves (step 12).
Tips for making the best rajma masala
Use raw/dried kidney beans where possible. Canned kidney beans work well too but I highly recommend using dried ones.
Make sure you soak the rajma long enough and wash the soaked rajma well in running water.
Use the cooking liquor in the curry - this adds a great flavour to the dish. Even if you use canned kidney beans, use the liquor from the can.
Use lots of ginger and garlic. This adds a lot of flavour to the dish.
Mash some rajma when it is simmering in the gravy. This adds a very good thickness to the curry and also makes it creamy.
Like most other curries, this curry tastes better the next day as it soaks up all the flavours from the spices. So make sure to make a large batch.
Rajma masala tastes best with plain steamed rice. You can also pair it with jeera rice. They taste great with any roti/paratha (flatbread) too.
Blitz some curry and use a small amount to spread on your sandwich! This versatile curry tastes delicious just by itself too.
Rajma masala stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be frozen for up to three months. Make sure you cool the curry completely before storing it and store it as soon as it is cooled. Use an air-tight container if you are storing in the refrigerator and a freezer-safe container if you are storing in the freezer.
Also, it is important to boil the rajma masala well when you reheat it.
You may also soak and boil rajma beforehand and store it in the refrigerator for an easy weekday meal.
Click here for more Punjabi recipes.
This dish is:
– vegan friendly
– good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans
– freezer-friendly. Make a large batch, portion, and freeze it. It can be frozen for up to three months
- 1½ cups red kidney beans or 4 cups canned kidney beans
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- ¼ cup tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 5-6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 2 teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leave (kasuri methi)
- A small pinch asafoetida (hing)
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Soak rajma in sufficient water for 8 hours (or overnight)
- Rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Add salt and sufficient water, and boil in a pressure cooker until they are completely cooked but still holding shape (take care not to overcook them else they will turn mushy)
- Heat oil in a frying pan or kadhai. Add bay leaves and hing
- Add onion and fry it well until they are golden
- Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 1-2 minutes
- Add cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder
- Add chopped tomato and tomato puree. Mix well and simmer until the tomatoes are completely cooked and the oil separates
- Add the boiled rajma along with its cooking liquor
- Mix well and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Gently mash a few rajma with the back of a spoon
- Rub the kasuri methi between your hands and add
- Add garam masala and mix
- Garnish with coriander leaves
- Serve hot with plain or jeera rice
Click here to watch rajma masala web story.