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Sunday, 30 June 2019

Rajma Masala

Rajma masala is a healthy and delicious red kidney beans curry from the Punjabi Cuisine. Basically, it is a mildly spiced, creamy thick gravy with onion tomato base in which soaked and cooked rajma (kidney beans) are simmered with basic Indian spices. Rajma masala can be served for lunch or dinner with any flat bread like chapati or naan but tastes best when paired with steamed rice. Rajma chawal is a soulful meal not only in North Indian households but can be found served as street food and in road side dhabas there. Here is a vegan and gluten-free recipe of simple yet flavorful rajma masala from my kitchen.

To make Rajma Masala, raw red kidney beans are soaked and then pressure cooked until soft. This cooked rajma is further simmered in a spicy onion tomato gravy to give an utterly delicious rajma masala curry. The recipe is very simple to follow. Only care to be taken is to cook the rajma really well. For that, the kidney beans have to be soaked overnight or at least for 8-9 hours. Canned kidney beans may also be used instead. On pressure cooking, you should be able to mash the rajma between your thumb and index finger. Both whole spices and the ground spice powders add to the aroma and flavor of this Rajma masala. I have not added any cream to the dish. You may add to get that Restaurant style creamy texture to your curry. Both chopped tomatoes and blanched tomato puree are added in this recipe. The onion tomato base has to be sauteed really well to get rid of the raw taste of onion and garlic. This curry can be made in either ghee or oil. I have used sunflower oil, you may use mustard oil for that typical Punjabi taste if you wish. I have used red kidney beans/ kashmiri rajma t make this Rajma masala as the beans retain the red color and hold their shape well after cooking and take up the flavors of the masala very well.

I have been surrounded by North Indians for the most part of my married life and this can be easily seen by the number of North Indian dishes, especially the Punajbi dishes on my blog. Even my son has a special liking for this food. He prefers taking different types of parathas laced with butter in his lunch box and has a spark in his eyes when I cook rajma, chole or Kadhi Pakora for lunch. Punjabi people are jolly and kind at heart and believe in living life to the fullest. This is clearly reflected in their lavish weddings and off course their calorie-rich food laced with ghee and butter. 

Punjab is one of the most fertile regions in India due to the presence of abundant water sources and fertile soils. It is rightly called as the Granary of India or India's Bread-Basket as it produces 19.5 % of India's wheat. Located in the Northern part of India, it is bordered by the Indian states Jammu Kashmir to the North, Himachal Pradesh to the East, Haryana to the South and the Pakistani Province of Punjab to the West. The five tributary rivers of the Indus River from which the region took its name are Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum Rivers.

Punjabi Cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct and local ways of cooking. Tandoori cooking is one such form which is not only famous in other parts of India but also many parts of the world. As Punjab is a major producer of wheat, rice, and dairy products, these products form the staple diet of the Punjabi people. Punjabi Cuisine is distinctively known for its rich, buttery flavors along with the extensive vegetarian and meat dishes. 

By now, regular readers of this blog must have guessed that it is month end and the time when i post regional Indian recipe for the Facebook Group Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge which i am a part of. This month we were on our virtual trip to the Indian State of Punjab. I have been staying in Mohali, Punjab for the last 2 1/2 years and i was super excited for this theme. My partner for this month was the very charming Sujata Roy di who blogs at Batterupwithsujata. Do check out her blog for some melt in mouth Bengali sweets. I am awed with her awesome bakes made with healthy ingredients. Sujata di gave me kasuri methi and coriander powder as my secret ingredients and i cooked this delicious and wholesome Rajma Masala using them. In return, I gave her nutmeg and bay leaf and she cooked creamy rich Dal Makhani using the two secret ingredients. 

                                                  Ssshhh Cooking Secretly

Before moving ahead, let's look at the health benefits of eating Kidney Beans a.k.a. Rajma.

Kidney bean is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus Vulgaris). It is named for its visual resemblance in shape and color to a kidney. Kidney beans are a rich source of folic acid, calcium, carbohydrates, fiber, and proteins.

 Health Benefits of Kidney Beans: Source
  • Lowers Cholesterol - The high content of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber in kidney beans lowers cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Good for Diabetes - The low glycemic index of rajma balances the sugar content of the body.
  • A powerhouse of protein - Kidney beans have high protein content and can serve as a great substitute for meat in vegetarians.
  • Helps in weight loss - Kidney beans keep one full for a longer time due to a large amount of dietary fiber. Also, the low-fat content makes it a wholesome low-calorie meal.
  • Strengthens the bones - The manganese and calcium present in the kidney beans make the bones stronger and help in preventing osteoporosis.
Preparation Time: 6-8 hours
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup kidney beans/rajma ( i have used red kidney beans/ kashmiri rajma)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions 
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree (made from 3 blanched tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic chili paste( grind 2 green chilies, 1/2 inch ginger and 3 garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  1. Rinse the kidney beans and soak them in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight. Next day discard the water and rinse the beans in fresh water. Transfer the beans to a pressure cooker with 3 cups water and one bay leaf.

2. Pressure cook the rajma on a medium flame for 15 minutes or 5 whistles. While the rajma is getting cooked, make the tomato puree, chop the onions and tomatoes and make the ginger garlic green chili paste.  Open the lid when the pressure settles down on its own. To check whether the rajma is cooked well, press a bean between your thumb and index finger. If it is easily mashable, the rajma is done. If it is hard, pressure cook for another 10 minutes. Strain the rajma and keep aside until use. Reserve the stock as we will use it later on.

3. In a pan, heat oil. Tip in the whole spices, bay leaf, clove, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. Let the spices sizzle for a few seconds in oil before adding the chopped onions.

4. Saute the onions until they turn golden brown. Keep stirring the onions to ensure they do not burn. Next, add the ginger garlic chili paste and fry for another 30 seconds.

5. Now add the chopped tomatoes followed by the tomato puree and saute for 2-3 minutes.

6. Once you see oil oozing out from the onion-tomato mixture, lower the flame and add the spice powder- turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, roasted cumin powder, garam masala and amchur powder. Stir the spices with the onion-tomato base and saute the whole curry masala very well.

7. Add the strained cooked rajma to the masala. Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the reserved stock ( around 2 cups) to the rajma.  Add salt and stir the curry.

8. Simmer the curry for around 10 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Do not cover it. Mash few rajma beans with the back of the spatula to get the typical thick creamy texture of rajma masala. Just before switching off the flame, add crushed kasuri methi to the rajma curry. Lastly, garnish it with finely chopped coriander leaves.

  9. Serve the delicious rajma masala with naan, paratha or steamed rice. I have served it with Jeera Rice.

Recipe Notes:
  • On pressure cooking, you should be able to mash the rajma between your thumb and index finger, for that the kidney beans have to be soaked overnight or at least for 8-9 hours. Canned kidney beans may also be used instead. 
  • I have not added any cream to the dish. You may add 2-3 tablespoon cream just before switching off the flame to get that restaurant style creamy texture to your rajma masala.
  • I have used red kidney beans/ kashmiri rajma t make this Rajma masala as the beans retain the red color and hold their shape well after cooking and take up the flavors of the masala very well.
  • This curry can be made in either ghee or oil. I have used sunflower oil, you may use mustard oil for that typical Punjabi taste if you wish. 

If you ever try this recipe, do share your feedback with us in the comment section below.
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Check out the following popular Punjabi dishes from this blog



  1. My son in law loves rajma and whenever he is in India, I'm not able to make them nicely for him because of the quality of rajma we get in the shops in Bangalore. Next time will try making them with Kashmiri Rajma. Your preparation looks so creamy and love the colour.

    1. Kashmiri rajma cooks very well and a you get a creamy gravy only if your rajma is well cooked. Thank you di.

  2. Rajma is surely one of my favorite beans. Your masala looks really tempting and delicious...

  3. delicious rajma masala and I would love to have it with chapati. very nutritious and healthy one.

    1. Yes Narmadha, Rajma masala tastes equally great with chapati and rice .

  4. Not too many takers for Rajma Masala at home, so I hardly make it, but I would LOVE to indulge in your recipe with hot steaming rice and some onions on the side... I have some kashmiri rajma at home and will give a shot at ur recipe !

    1. Thank you Kalyani. Would look forward to your feedback. Happy cooking !

  5. Rajma looks superbly delicious Poonam. What a lovely bright colour. I am literally drooling. Give me some hot steamed rice and my lunch sorted. Beautiful click and presentation.

    1. Si glad to know that you liked the dish di. Thank you.

  6. Rajma looks delcious, it is the favourite of my son. I shall try your version sometime.

  7. Rajma looks yummy. I love the pics too. I will love to try this rajma for my kiddo she loves it.

  8. What a lovely presentation Poonam, Rajma masala looks very tempting, delicious and that too with jeera rice it's yummy. Rajma cooked perfectly which gave good texture to the curry.

    1. Yes Aruna, you get a perfect creamy rajma curry only when the rajma are cooked well. Do give it a try.

  9. Rajma is a sure pleaser for North Indians. Your bowl of rajma is an absolute treat.

  10. Quintessentially punjabi food...give thisvwith some jeera rice and i am done

  11. Its one of our common scene at dinner table ;) the presentation is simply awesome Poonam, The curry is so tempting !

  12. I cooked rajma masala too for this challenege and yours looks absolutely very inviting. My son loves this so much that he will like to have this anytime. Sending this link to him

    1. Awee..thanks di. Hope your son loves this curry as much as we did.

  13. Love to have Rajma with some hot steaming rice. Liked your step by step procedure and detailed recipe.

    1. Even we love rajma masala with jeera rice. Thank you Renu.

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  15. Rajma is my husband favorite curry.It looks absolutely delicious and mouthwatering.

  16. I am so glad we both chose the same recipe. I love the step by step details in your recipe as always.

  17. Thank you for sharing such a good recipe.

    I love to have Rajma Rice and somtimes dry rajma sabzi as well.

    Your recipe just made my day better.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Buy Organic Garam Masala in India here.