24 August, 2012

Rajma Masala Recipe | How to Make Simple Punjabi Rajma Masala/Red Kidney Beans Curry

Learn how to make Rajma Masala/Curry ~ Slow cooked Kidney beans in creamy and spicy onion-tomato gravy

“ The struggles I'm facing,
The chances I'm taking,
Might sometimes knock me down,
But I'm not breaking. ”
~ Wincy

We all dream… Dreams, that is what keeps fuelling our life to keep it exciting and going… But to make those dreams a reality is not as easy as we would like them to be! There are many obstacles, challenges, confusions, unknowns, with good measure of ifs and buts thrown in to make it stressful. But every life altering things always comes with few obstacles, many challenges, little sorrow, a lot of adventure and in the end peace and happiness!
Comfort in a bowl ~ Rajma Masala

Today we have taken that first baby step but in reality it is a giant leap for us. We have been uncertain for years, but right now our mind is crystal clear and we can see the long path we have to walk! This is not an easy path for us… There are challenging bends and curves, with some pot holes thrown in for good measure. There are dark tunnels of uncertainty, and dangerous slops of fear of unknown! But there is a light of peace and happiness at the end of this path that is keeping us hopeful, motivated and fuelling our dream! We know for certain that that is our destination, our dream! It is just a matter of time… We know that we will make our dream a reality!

I can’t lie that I am doing fine… no, I am not1 I am stressed as I have never been, both physically and emotionally! I am tired… I am nervous… But also I am giddy with happiness! I know this change is what we always wanted and hoped for! It is inevitable and uncontrollable. But I also realise that what we can control is how we manage this change, react to and work through the change process by facing every challenges that life throws, expected or unexpected ones! So wish us good luck because we need all the luck for next few months!
Forget every worry because it’s time for some Rajma Curry

As for the recipe, I am posting another version of famous comfort food Rajma Masala/Curry. Red kidney beans are slow cooked in spicy onion and tomato gravy with just a handful of selected aromatic spices. With less time and more work, I am cooking more comfort food that takes less prep work and doesn’t require my constant attention! Time is a very precious commodity these days and I am trying to cook the dishes that take very little time! I have been using pressure cooker for preparing most of our meals, and this time too I cooked this Rajma Masala/Curry in the pressure cooker. Feel free to cook in thick bottomed vessel or slow cooker. Served with piping hot steamed rice or any Indian flat bread, this Rajma Curry makes a wonderful and comforting meal.
The saga of Rajma begins here ~ Rajma/Kidney Beans

Roasted aromatic spices with onions
Freshly ground onion paste for the gravy

Rajma (Slow cooked Kidney beans in creamy and spicy onion-tomato gravy)
Prep Time: 5-10 mins
Cooking Time: 25-60 mins (cooking time varies from pressure cooked to stove top cooking)
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: 3-4 days when refrigerated and up to a month when frozen
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice

1½ cups Rajma/Red Kidney Beans
3 large Tomatoes, cored and pureed
1 heaped tbsp Tomato Paste (Optional)
½ tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves, crushed (Optional)
Salt to taste

For Onion Paste:
1 large or 2 medium Onions, roughly chopped
4 large cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 inch Cinnamon
3 Cloves
1 tbsp Dhania/Coriander Seeds
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
5-7 Dried Red Chillies (Byadagi/Kashmiri or any mild tasting variety. Adjust acc to taste)
1+1 tbsp Oil
Dive into the bowl of comfort ~ Rajma Masala

  1. Wash the kidney beans 2-3 times and soak them in a bowl of water until needed. Alternatively you can soak the beans overnight or for 8 hours. Since kidney beans gets cooked easily in a pressure cooker, I tend to cook them without soaking them overnight as my last minute cooking plan keeps changing!
  2. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and add cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies. Sauté them till they change colour, about 1-2 minutes, on low flame.
  3. Next add chopped onions, garlic and ginger and sauté till onions turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Switch off the gas and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Once the onion mixture has cooled down enough, grind them to smooth paste without any water.
  5. Next heat a tbsp of oil in a pressure cooker and add ground mixture to it. Mix in crushed kasuri methi if using and give it a good mix.
  6. Mix in tomato paste and pureed tomatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Drain and add the kidney beans, 3-4 cups of water depending on how thick you want the gravy and salt to taste.
  8. Cover the lid and place the weight on. Let it cook for 20-25 minutes or for 3-4 whistles on medium-high flame. If using thick bottomed pan, let it simmer for 40-45 minutes till the beans are cooked through and soft to touch.
  9. Serve this creamy delicious Rajma piping hot with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice. Bliss!!!
Rajma ~ Creamy, simple and delicious!

Sia's Notes:
  • Cooking time is differs from cooking in the pressure cooker to heavy bottomed pan or slow cooker.
  • If you like really thick gravy, mash or grind 1/4th of cooked kidney beans and add it to the gravy. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes without lid.
  • Addition of tomato paste and kasuri methi is optional. While the tomato paste gives it a lovely red colour to the Rajma gravy, kasuri methi adds aromatic twist to the gravy!
  • Check another version of Rajma Masala from Monsoon Spice archives. 


  1. Wondeful and so droolworthy!



  2. what stress , what luck are we talking about lady! waise iam also all dukhi today :( super dukhi... somebody ditched me :( but ur pics always brighten me up :)

  3. so yummy and spicy looking curry. Very nice click


  4. Hi Sia!

    I am looking forward to try this recipe tomorrow for lunch. Lets see if I can get some methi. Do u use fresh or dried leaves? thanks for sharing!

  5. Super inviting dear..Rush your delights for Fast Food Event Noodles

  6. Love your blog and your photos are superb.

  7. Really REALLY enjoying your blog from Alaska! Would like to print this, but noticed you have removed that option?

    In the future, may have substitution questions as we are not able to get some of these ingredients.

    Best of luck on your endeavors in this post, whatever they may be.

    namaste, loretta bell

  8. Hi Sia,

    Rajma is really a comfort in MONSOON...and when it comes all the way through Monsoon Spices...it must be tasty and good. The pics are very b'ful.

    I wish you good luck for whatever you (and family) are perceiving.


  9. Thank you all :)

    @Helene Dsouza, it's dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi)

  10. All the best for your big change ahead Sia! Am sure you will hold your chin up and come out just fine :)
    The Rajma looks delicious and comforting! I have realised after many trials that the best rajma is the simplest. I use very little onions and half a tomato, and plain salt, chilli powder and dhania powder. Thats it. And trust me, it tastes outstanding :)

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. What a wonderful recipe! Thankyou for sharing and taking such beautiful photos! Jem x

  13. This recipe was utterly detestable. I made it in a pressure cooker with 3 1/2 cups of water. Measurements and everything were followed to the word. Turned out awful, too watery, not thick enough like this masala should be. I think some of the measurements need to be readjusted big time. If making this, use about 2 cups of kidney beans with no more than 2 cups of water.

  14. @Bittergreen, sorry to know it didn't come out as you desired! i cook rajma this way and it comes out good with creamy gravy. the onion paste in a gravy makes it thicker as the gravy rests and usually on the next day, the gravy becomes thicker than the one on day one of cooking. you can mash or grind 1/4 th of cooked rajma to make it more creamier and let the gravy cook for 10-15 minutes without lid. hope this helps!

  15. Thx sia! I have referred to ur recipes many a times n have found solace in the awesome tasting food it helps me generate :-) now, since i am pregnant, hubby has started cooking referring to ur recipes! We both are grateful to u for making our meal times so wonderful :-)

  16. @ramaterraincognita, what a wonderful way to start my Friday morning :) Your comment just put a big smile on my face :)

    Your comment reminded me of the days when I was preg with Lil Dumpling and had morning sickness 24/7 for all those 9 months! it was my hubby who took over the cooking as i just couldn't stand the smell of cooking vegetables or oil :) wishing u happy pregnancy and a safe delivery :)

  17. It is really yummyyyy!!!!!!!!
    I have tried it.
    Thanks for the great recipe..

  18. Good recipe and photos. What is the camera and lens that you had used?

  19. thanks for the recipe.. i tried it just now and paired it with kerala puttu.. tured out great :D

  20. @calculatedmess and Vinu, thank you both for taking time and leaving such wonderful feedback. I am happy to know that you loved it :)

  21. I am a newbie to cooking, but this recipe and little help from my wife, it came out great.


  22. Tried, tasted and posted too :) Lovely recipe, thanks for it!

  23. @rahul0000, that's wonderful to know :) thank you for dropping a line!

  24. ahhh!! what can i say!! thank you so much!! i tried it & came out well!! Its YummyyyyYY!!

  25. Ahhh! Thank you so much!! i tried and it came out really well!! ;D :D ..Its Yummmyyyyy!~!

  26. @Janabai Haridoss, glad to know that you enjoyed it :)

  27. yumiiiieeeeee..
    finger licking one..
    thanx for the receipe..

  28. Thanks for this great recipe.

    I followed it and it looked close enough.

    Now, I am waiting to eat it...

  29. Where can I get tomato paste?does it alter the taste?

  30. @Vinaya Bhat, it's difficult to answer to your query without knowing where you live! I buy mine here in UK at supermarkets. tomato paste is more of a concentrated tomato puree and hence adds more tang and colour to the gravy. Hope it helps!

  31. Hi Sia,
    I have eaten rajma masala only 3 times in my lifetime and every time I become disappointed with the color and taste of rajma masala.Then I decided that I will never eat this food.But after seeing your recipe I am getting a ray of hope to try this recipe at least once.Today after coming from office,I have prepared this recipe at dinner.I have already tasted a spoon of this dish and it tastes outstanding.Now I'll eat this rajma masala and bengali mixed veg with my roommates(I stay in Paying Guest for job purpose). You can try once my mother's special bengali mix veg to know about bengali traditional foods.Recipe link :http://bengalifoodmania.blogspot.in/2014/03/ingredients-1-cup-eggplant-begun-diced.html.
    I will write again to inform you how we had enjoyed your recipe.

  32. Thanks for sharing! I made minor modifications but found this recipe to be of great help in preparing rajma! :)

  33. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I made several modifications, yet, enjoyed finding this recipe to adapt for quick rajma without having to soak the beans! Perfect timing with the double boil pressure cooker at about 45 minutes! I'll be checking your other recipes, too. Krisie - Oregon, USA


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