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 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.
How to make Rajma recipe
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.
2. Next day discard the soaked water. Drain and rinse the soaked beans for a few times in running water.
3. Again drain all the water and add the rinsed kidney beans 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.
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.
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.
Making rajma masala
7. Heat 3 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon oil in another pot or pan or kadai.
8. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds first and let them crackle & get browned.
9. Then add the finely chopped onions.
10. Stir and begin to sauté them.
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.
12. Light browning of the onions is also fine.
13. Sauté the onions till they are caramelized or golden browned.
14. Add the crushed ginger-garlic-chilli paste.
15. Stir and sauté for 5 to 10 seconds on a low flame or till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
16. Add the finely chopped tomatoes.
17. Mix very well.
18. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes till the tomatoes become soft.
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.
20. Mix again very well.
21. Continue to sauté the whole masala base till the fat starts leaving the sides of masala.
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.
23. Stir and sauté for a minute.
Cooking rajma curry
24. Take 2 cups from the stock or a mixture of stock+water and add.
25. Add salt as required.
26. Stir the whole rajma curry mixture.
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.
28. Mash a few rajma beans with the spoon. This helps to thicken the rajma curry.
29. Continue to simmer till you get a medium consistency in the curry.
30. Do stir at intervals when the rajma masala is simmering.
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.
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.
33. Switch off the heat.
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.
- 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.
Usually Punjabi rajma masala is made with the pinkish colored and striped kidney beans. But you can use the dark red kidney beans.
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.
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.
Soak dried kidney beans in hot water for 1 to 2 hours. Cover the bowl when soaking. Later rinse and drain and cook them.
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.
Yes you can skip cream.
Yes you can skip kasuri methi.
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.
Yes you can use canned tomatoes. Use 1 cup of crushed tomatoes.
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.
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.
Yes you can skip butter.
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
Course: Main Course
Difficulty Level: Easy
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.
- To make this rajma recipe gluten free, omit the asafoetida (hing) in the recipe.
- 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.
- Its very important to soak the rajma beans overnight. Always use fresh rajma as old rajma takes a long time to cook.
- Rajma beans should be cooked very well and have the melt in the mouth texture.
- Spices in the rajma curry can be adjusted as per your taste.
- First soak the rajma 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.
- 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.
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.