//Rajma Recipe | Rajma Masala

Rajma Recipe | Rajma Masala

rajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on left top side of the boardrajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on left top side of the board

This Rajma recipe is a lightly spiced, creamy and a delicious Punjabi curry made with kidney beans, onions, tomatoes and spices. This is my mom’s recipe of making this famous and truly restaurant style Punjabi Rajma Masala.

rajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on left top side of the boardrajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on left top side of the board

Rajma masala is a weekly affair at home and a Sunday lunch. This particular rajma recipe made restaurant style goes very well with both steamed rice as well as naan. And when you have rajma and rice, do you need anything else?

In my home, there are no side dishes made on the day when rajma is cooked. Just the melt in the mouth rajma beans in a creamy curry along with rice and you have a comforting meal.

Why this recipe works

This rajma recipe follows the traditional and the most common method of making rajma curry. So there are no chances of anything going wrong, if you follow the recipe correctly.

In the recipe, the kidney beans are cooked first which are later added to a sautéed base of spices, onions and tomatoes. This flavorful base is cooked further to a curry or gravy consistency by adding some water and then finished off with some cream.

Adding cream makes for a truly restaurant-style rajma thats tastes so good and which you can serve with Indian flat breads like naan or paratha or roti.

My family loves rajma masala with steamed basmati rice. But even Indian flat breads and jeera rice accompany rajma masala very well.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Rajma recipe

Preparation

1. Rinse for a couple of times and then soak 1 cup rajma (kidney beans) in enough water overnight or for 8 to 9 hours.

soaked rajma (kidney beans)soaked rajma (kidney beans)

2. Next day discard the soaked water. Drain and rinse the soaked beans for a few times in running water.

rinsing the soaked rajma with fresh waterrinsing the soaked rajma with fresh water

3. Again drain all the water and add the rinsed kidney beans in a 3 litre pressure cooker.

rajma beans added in a 3 litre pressure cookerrajma beans added in a 3 litre pressure cooker

4. Add 3.5 to 4 cups of water and stir. Pressure cook the rajma for 18 to 20 whistles or for about 15 to 20 minutes.

water being addedwater being added

5. When the kidney beans are cooking, you can chop 1 large onion (¾ to 1 cup finely chopped onion), 2 large tomatoes (1 cup finely chopped tomatoes) and make the crushed ginger+garlic+green chili paste.

You need to crush or grind 1 inch ginger, 5 to 6 small garlic cloves or 3 to 4 medium garlic cloves & 1 to 2 green chilies to a paste in a mortar-pestle or a small grinder.

finally chopped tomatoes, onion and crushed ginger-garlic-green chillies kept aside for the rajma recipefinally chopped tomatoes, onion and crushed ginger-garlic-green chillies kept aside for the rajma recipe

6. When the pressure settles down on its own in the cooker, open the lid. Check if the rajma is cooked or not by eating or pressing a bean with your fingers. The cooked beans should not have a bite to them.

The rajma beans should be completely cooked. If they are not cooked completely, then pressure cook again adding some water if required for some minutes.

cooked rajma beanscooked rajma beans

Making rajma masala

7. Heat 3 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon oil in another pot or pan or kadai.

melting butter in a frying panmelting butter in a frying pan

8. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds first and let them crackle & get browned.

added cumin seeds in the frying panadded cumin seeds in the frying pan

9. Then add the finely chopped onions.

added finely chopped onions in the panadded finely chopped onions in the pan

10. Stir and begin to sauté them.

sautéing the onionssautéing the onions

11. Keep on stirring the onions while sauteing them, for uniform cooking and also so that they don’t get burnt. Take care not to burn them as this will impart bitter tones to the rajma curry.

onion being stirred and sautéed with a black spoononion being stirred and sautéed with a black spoon

12. Light browning of the onions is also fine.

onions have become light goldenonions have become light golden

13. Sauté the onions till they are caramelized or golden browned.

onions are getting caramelizedonions are getting caramelized

14. Add the crushed ginger-garlic-chilli paste.

crushed ginger-garlic-chilli paste added crushed ginger-garlic-chilli paste added

15. Stir and sauté for 5 to 10 seconds on a low flame or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

ginger-garlic-chilli paste being sautéed ginger-garlic-chilli paste being sautéed

16. Add the finely chopped tomatoes.

 finely chopped tomatoes added finely chopped tomatoes added

17. Mix very well.

tomatoes have been mixedtomatoes have been mixed

18. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes till the tomatoes become soft.

tomatoes have softenedtomatoes have softened

19. Add all the spice powders one by one – ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, a pinch of asafoetida (hing) and ½ teaspoon garam masala powder.

spiced powders addedspiced powders added

20. Mix again very well.

spice powders being mixed with a black spoonspice powders being mixed with a black spoon

21. Continue to sauté the whole masala base till the fat starts leaving the sides of masala.

some fat leaving the sides of the sautéed onion-tomato masala basesome fat leaving the sides of the sautéed onion-tomato masala base

22. Use a slotted spoon or a strainer and remove the rajma beans and add them to the masala. You can also strain the rajma first and keep it aside. Keep the stock (the water in which the kidney beans were cooked) also aside.

cooked rajma addedcooked rajma added

23. Stir and sauté for a minute.

rajma mixed well with the masala baserajma mixed well with the masala base

Cooking rajma curry

24. Take 2 cups from the stock or a mixture of stock+water and add.

stock and water addedstock and water added

25. Add salt as required.

salt being addedsalt being added

26. Stir the whole rajma curry mixture.

rajma curry after mixing and stirringrajma curry after mixing and stirring

27. On a low to medium-low flame, simmer without a lid for 10 to 12 minutes or more till the rajma masala thickens slightly. The rajma curry should not be watery.

simmering rajma masala gravysimmering rajma masala gravy

28. Mash a few rajma beans with the spoon. This helps to thicken the rajma curry.

mashing some kidney beans with a spoon in the frying pan itselfmashing some kidney beans with a spoon in the frying pan itself

29. Continue to simmer till you get a medium consistency in the curry.

simmering rajma currysimmering rajma curry

30. Do stir at intervals when the rajma masala is simmering.

stirring rajma masala with a black spoonstirring rajma masala with a black spoon

31. The Punjabi rajma masala has to thicken and the curry has to be of the right consistency, which is neither too thick nor thin.

spoon showing the consistency of the rajma masala spoon showing the consistency of the rajma masala

32. Then add 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and 2 to 3 tablespoons cream (low-fat cream). Mix very well & simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute. If using heavy whipping cream, then just add 1 tablespoon of it.

cream and kasuri methi added to the rajma masalacream and kasuri methi added to the rajma masala

33. Switch off the heat.

cream and kasuri methi mixed and rajma recipe is ready to be servedcream and kasuri methi mixed and rajma recipe is ready to be served

34. Serve rajma masala restaurant-style with steamed basmati rice, jeera rice, roti or jeera paratha or naan or saffron rice. The combo of rajma rice or rajma chawal is quite famous.

rajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on  left top side of the boardrajma masala garnished with a few kasuri methi and served in a white bowl on a brown wooden board and a plate of rice and rajma curry with a spoon kept on  left top side of the board

Tips

Expert Tips

  • Why to soak kidney beans? It is important to soak the rajma (kidney beans) overnight or for 8 to 9 hours and then cook them really well. Dried beans when soaked become more easy to digest as soaking reduces the phytic acid in them. The phytates present in beans cause indigestion and flatulence. Soaking also helps the beans to cook faster.
  • Cooking rajma: While making recipe with kidney beans, they have to be cooked really well. They should melt in your mouth when you bite into them offering no resistance. This is a very crucial and the most overlooked aspect of cooking rajma. Even in restaurants, the beans have a bite in them and this not only ruins the texture in the dish but also affects your stomach.
  • Quality of kidney beans: Always buy rajma beans which are new and not old. The older they are they take a lot of time to cook and we don’t get the perfect texture in the rajma. I always check the packaging date while buying them and I don’t buy rajma if they are older than 6 months.
  • Canned kidney beans: When using canned kidney beans, add them at the step where cooked beans are added. Add fresh water and continue to simmer for some minutes till the consistency thickens. You can use two 15 oz canned kidney beans.
  • Gluten-free variation: To make this rajma recipe gluten-free, skip the asafoetida (hing) in the recipe.
  • Vegan variation: Instead of butter used oil and skip the cream completely.

FAQs

1. Can I use dark kidney beans?

Usually Punjabi rajma masala is made with the pinkish colored and striped kidney beans. But you can use the dark red kidney beans.

2. How do I use canned kidney beans and how much?

1 cup of dried kidney beans yields about 3 cups cooked beans. A 15 oz can makes for 1.5 to 1.75 cups of canned beans. Thus you could easily use two 15 oz canned kidney beans in the recipe.

3. Why my rajma beans are not getting cooked well or taking a long time to cook?

Depending on the quality and freshness of the beans, it can take more or less time to cook. Always avoid aged beans as they do not soften and cook well.

4. I forgot to soak the kidney beans – now what I should do?

Soak dried kidney beans in hot water for 1 to 2 hours. Cover the bowl when soaking. Later rinse and drain and cook them.

5. Can I sauté the onions, tomatoes and then pressure cook the rajma?

Yes you can use this method. Sometimes due to the acidity of the tomatoes, the rajma beans depending on their freshness may not cook well. But I have tried this way of cooking many times and it works for me when using fresh kidney beans. 

6. Can I skip cream?

Yes you can skip cream. 

7. Can I skip kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)?

Yes you can skip kasuri methi.

8. Can I skip asafoetida?

Of course, you can skip asafoetida. In the Indian cuisine, we generally add asafoetida to lentil or bean dishes as they help in digestion. But in this rajma masala recipe, asafoetida is easily skippable.

9. Can I use canned tomatoes?

Yes you can use canned tomatoes. Use 1 cup of crushed tomatoes.

10. How to make a very thick gravy for the rajma masala?

Instead of mashing rajma, you can take about ¼ cup of the cooked beans and grind or blend it in a grinder or blender with some water to a fine paste. Add this paste to the curry base and simmer. The rajma masala will have a thick consistency. 

11. How to cook kidney beans in a pot or pan?

First soak the kidney beans as usual for 8 to 9 hours. Drain them and rinse them with fresh water. Then in a large pot, take enough water, rajma and salt. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes or 1 hour or more time till the beans are softened.

12. Can I skip butter in this rajma recipe

Yes you can skip butter.

13. How to make rajma masala in the Instant Pot?

Sauté the spices, onions and tomatoes in the Instant Pot using the sauté button. Add the soaked and drained kidney beans and water. Press the pressure cooker button or the chili button and set the time to 30 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally after 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid. Press cancel button and press the sauté button again. Simmer stirring often till the curry thickens. Mash some beans when simmering to thicken the gravy. 

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This Rajma recipe is a creamy, tangy and spiced curry made with dried kidney beans. This restaurant style Rajma Masala is made in a base of sautéed onions, tomatoes, spices and cream making it truly delicious.

Prep Time 9 hrs

Cook Time 45 mins

Total Time 9 hrs 45 mins


Cuisine Punjabi

Course: Main Course

Diet: Vegetarian

Difficulty Level: Easy


Servings 5

Soaking and pressure cooking

  • Rinse and soak the rajma or kidney beans in enough water overnight or for 8-9 hours.

  • Next day, discard the water and rinse the beans again in fresh water.

  • In a pressure cooker, take both the rajma and 4 cups water.

  • Pressure cook on a medium to high flame for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • When the rajma is cooking, you can chop the onions, tomatoes etc.

  • When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid,

  • Check if the rajma is cooked or not by taking a bite or pressing a bean.

  • If the rajma are not cooked completely, then pressure cook again adding some water if required for some minutes.

Making rajma recipe

  • Heat oil + butter in another pot or pan. Add cumin first and let them crackle & get browned.

  • Then add onions and saute them till they caramelized or golden browned.

  • Take care not to burn them as this will impart bitter tones in the curry.

  • Light browning the onions is also alright.

  • Keep on stirring the onions while sauteing them, for uniform cooking and also so that they don’t get burnt.

  • Add the ginger-garlic-chili paste. Stir and saute for 5-10 seconds on a low flame.

  • Add the tomatoes. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes till the tomatoes become soft.

  • Add all the spice powders one by one – turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, asafoetida (hing) and garam masala powder.

  • Stir and saute the whole masala mixture till the fat starts leaving the masala.

  • Use a slotted spoon or a strainer and remove the beans and add them to the masala.

  • You can also strain the rajma first and keep it aside.

  • Keep the stock also aside. Stir and saute for a minute.

Cooking rajma masala curry

  • Take 1.5 to 2 cups from the stock and add to the rajma.

  • Add salt and stir the whole curry mixture.

  • Simmer without a lid for 10-12 minutes or more till the curry thickens slightly. It should not be watery.

  • Mash a few rajma beans with the spoon. This helps to thicken the curry.

  • When the rajma masala has thickened and comes to the right consistency which is neither too thick nor thin, then add the kasuri methi and cream.

  • Stir & simmer for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Switch off the fire.

  • Serve rajma masala with steamed basmati rice, jeera rice or naan.

  1. To make this rajma recipe gluten free, omit the asafoetida (hing) in the recipe.
  2. Canned kidney beans can also be used. In this case, just make the curry or sauce first and then add the rajma beans and water.
  3. Its very important to soak the rajma beans overnight. Always use fresh rajma as old rajma takes a long time to cook.
  4. Rajma beans should be cooked very well and have the melt in the mouth texture.
  5. Spices in the rajma curry can be adjusted as per your taste.

If cooking rajma in a pot or pan

  1. First soak the rajma as usual for 8 to 9 hours. Drain them and rinse them with fresh water.
  2. Then in a large pot, take enough water, rajma and salt.
  3. Cook rajma beans covered for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or more if required. It takes a long time to cook rajma without a pressure cooker.

Note that the approximate nutrition info is for 1 serving of rajma without rice or roti or naan. 

Calories: 210kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 298mgPotassium: 707mgFiber: 7gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 873IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 1mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin C: 13mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 9µgCalcium: 54mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 160µgIron: 3mgMagnesium: 63mgPhosphorus: 177mgZinc: 1mg

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This recipe post from the archives (October 2013) has been republished and updated on 23 September 2020 with a video and plenty of my expert tips with FAQs.