Rajma Masala or Kidney Beans Curry

Every time I cook Rajma it brings back a lot of childhood memories. Rajma was a weekly affair at my home growing up and not to miss out on the fact that it’s one of my favorite curries and my husband’s too!

So here I present my mom’s way of making this famous curry.



2 cups kidney beans, soaked overnight (approx. 10-12 hours, if possible change the water at least twice this reduces the phytic acid and makes it easier to digest)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
4 medium garlic, 1 inch ginger, 1 to 2 green chilies – crushed (you can either use mortar-pestle or food processor for this)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp. oil
Salt as required


Boiling the Kidney Beans:

• Soak the kidney beans in enough water for approximately 10-12 hours. If possible change the water at least twice this reduces the phytic acid and makes it easier to digest.
• Pressure cook the kidney beans on a low to medium flame for 25-30 minutes. You would need more than double the amount of water, for 2 cups of kidney beans you would need 5 cups of water.
• When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid to check if the beans are cooked properly. Mash a few beans to check if they are cooked through. If not, add some water close the lid again and pressure cook again for 5-10 minutes on medium flame.

Making the Gravy:

• Heat oil (you can also use butter if you want, it does add a nice flavor to the dish) in a pot.
• First add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
• Then add crushed garlic, ginger and green chili paste and saute it or 2 minutes till the raw smell is gone.
• Now add onions and saute them till they become golden brown, this should take 4-5 minutes on a medium flame (Caramelized onions add sweetness to the dish and you don’t want raw onions in your Rajma so take your time. However, take care not to burn the onions as burnt onions can give bitter taste to the curry.)
• Add the tomatoes and saute for another 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes get soft and mushy.
• Start adding all the spices one by one – turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. You can add garam masala powder either now or later, I prefer to add it towards the end for that bold flavor.
• Mix everything well and cook it for another 2-3 minutes, you can add a little water at this point if the mixture looks dry and starts sticking to the pan.

Putting it all Together:

• Now add the boiled kidney beans to the gravy, along with the leftover water from boiling the beans.
• Simmer the curry without a lid for about 10-12 minutes or more on low to medium flame, you don’t want it to be too watery.
• Mash a few beans with the back of your spoon or ladle, this helps to thicken the curry.
• Lastly add garam masala and fresh cilantro, simmer for another minute.
Serve it with steamed basmati rice, jeera rice or naan!


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