Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Red kidney beans curry
Let me start with a disclaimer. This is a one pot rajma masala recipe, not the authentic Punjabi recipe of rajma masala where the red kidney beans are boiled first and then added to an onion tomato masala. In this recipe of rajma masala, everything gets cooked together. For the most of it.
This recipe of rajma masala is like an instant pot rajma masala, without an instant pot. Everything gets done at once, no multiple cooking processes and you don’t have to keep going back to the kitchen.
I have added a note towards the end of the recipe for the authentic Punjabi home-style of making rajma masala, for those who are interested in that version.
If you’re worried about the effects of this version of rajma masala on your digestive system (hello warm air…), DO NOT worry! Use the amount of ginger that I have mentioned in this recipe and you’ll do just fine. Trust me!
I will end this lengthy disclaimer with; I SO prefer THIS one pot cooking version of rajma masala to the authentic Punjabi style rajma masala. Though both the recipes have their distinct flavour profiles, in this recipe all the flavours from the masala meddle beautifully with the red kidney beans because everything cooks together for longer. And there is a lesser chance of the red kidney beans turning to mush due to overcooking. More on this later.
Now, the nutritional benefits of rajma or red kidney beans are well known and need not be discussed in detail here. High in antioxidants, plant based vegetarian protein, good carbohydrates, fibre, essential vitamins, minerals and omegas. And ofcourse, a good source of iron (thought I should mention iron separately for anyone asking for iron-rich recipes).
Pair rajma masala with steamed rice and you have an ideal meal, not just flavour-wise but also for its health benefits. And both these main ingredients are easily available to most. This traditional Indian meal combination of rajma masala and chawal or steamed rice makes it a superfood combination; in that, it contains everything that a nutritious, healthy, complete meal should. Yes, superfood it is!
Our ancestors surely knew the things that mattered, more than us.
Add a raita, pickled onions (sirke wale pyaz) or this instant carrot pickle (the one that's usually serve with chole bhature but goes well with any Indian Curry) and papad to complete your traditional Indian meal.
This recipe of rajma masala is naturally gluten free, vegan and vegetarian.
If you’re looking to add home-style Indian Curries to your meals, have a go at these recipes from my Indian food recipe blog WhiskMixStir.
You may also want to serve these homemade Indian beverages with your meal, instead of the aerated colas and or store bought beverages.
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Soaking 6-8 hours
Cooking 45 minutes
Ingredients to make Rajma Masala
1 cup rajma / red kidney beans
4 cups water
2 onions, medium size
4 tomatoes, medium size
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1 tsp ajwain / carom seeds
½ tsp haldi / turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
½ tsp dhania powder / coriander seeds powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
2 tbsp ghee / cooking oil
½ tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
Method of making Rajma Masala
Soak the red kidney beans for 6-8 hours.
If you’re short on time, soak the red kidney beans for a couple of hours in warm water. And if you don’t have even that much of a notice before cooking rajma masala, soak the red kidney beans in super-hot water for 20-30 minutes (covered), while you prepare the onion tomato masala.
Next, grind the onions to a paste. Grind the tomatoes to a purée too, separately. If you like, you could fine chop the ginger, instead of grating it.
Heat ghee or cooking oil in a pressure cooker, on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and carom seeds. Once these crackle, add the onion paste. Cook the onion paste on medium low heat, to bring out the sweetness of the onions, till it turns a light brown. Next add half of the grated ginger. Cook for a minute or so and add puréed tomatoes along with the sugar and a little salt.
Note: I like to add just a tiny bit of sugar to my curry recipes to bring all the flavours together. Sugar has a way of balancing savoury flavours. If you’ve tried my Lobia Curry recipe (another iron-rich bean recipe), you would have noticed the addition of tomato ketchup. You know like we add a little salt to dessert recipes to enhance flavours… same!
Increase heat to medium high. Once the tomatoes dry out a little, i.e. once the onion tomato masala turns a couple of shades darker, add the soaked red kidney beans. Mix everything well so that the masala coats the rajma well.
Remember to NOT cook the masala completely to a dark colour or till the oil separates because we’re still going to pressure cook everything together. So, keep your onion tomato masala quite undercooked.
After another minute or so of adding rajma, add the turmeric powder, chilli powders, dhania powder, half of the garam masala and salt as required.
Mix everything well and add 4 cups of water. This recipe of rajma masala will take a little longer to cook than the traditional recipe and so, 4 cups of water is not a lot here.
Secure the pressure cooker lid and cook the rajma masala for 2 whistles on medium high heat and then 8-10 whistles on low heat. Yes, this one pot style of making rajma masala needs a couple more pressure cooker whistles to cook.
Once the steam settles naturally, open the pressure cooker. Check if the red kidney beans have cooked through. Remember that in this instant style of cooking rajma masala, the red kidney beans will not turn to mush and will surely have a bite. If you like, you could pressure cook it for a couple more whistles to overcook the red kidney beans or to cook it to your liking. Don’t forget to add water, if required.
Now, if (or once) the red kidney beans have cooked to your preferred texture, add the balance grated ginger, garam masala and kasuri methi. Give it all a good mix, taste and adjust flavours. Adjust the consistency of the curry, if required. That is, add a little hot water if the curry is too thick for your liking or cook it down uncovered if the curry is too runny.
Close the pressure cooker lid again and let the rajma masala rest for half an hour atleast to let these final ingredients flavours blend in.
If you've been following my cooking journey, you will know that I always prefer to add half the quantity of garam masala in any recipe at the end of the cooking process, for layered flavours. Half the garam masala gets cooked with the other ingredients towards the beginning, for mellow flavours and then the balance at the end for sharper flavours. Best of both worlds!
When ready to serve, gently heat the rajma masala (red kidney beans curry) and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
I like to pair rajma masala with ghee-laden phulkas, steamed rice, sirke wale pyaz (pickled onions), and this instant carrot pickle. Boondi raita or a chilled cucumber raita is the perfect condiment to serve with rajma masala!
A traditional Indian meal combination (at least in my home) is rajma masala and gobi aloo. Ofcourse served with rice, chapati and the other paraphernalia.
Ok now, for those looking for the authentic Punjabi style rajma masala or red kidney beans curry, here goes. Boil the soaked rajma with some salt. Make the onion tomato masala as per the recipe above and cook it through till the oil separates. Once the rajma is cooked to your preferred texture, add the prepared onion tomato masala to it and cook everything for a few minutes to let the flavours blend. Leave the rajma masala to rest for a while and heat before serving.
Take a look at the other Indian mains recipes and quick & simple under 20 minutes meal ideas.
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