Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Curry Recipe) is a Punjabi curry made using red kidney beans. Cooked beans are simmered in a spicy onion tomato-based gravy. Learn to make this North Indian specialty at home using my easy recipe (vegan, gluten-free).
I am sharing how to cook the rajma in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker and an instant pot.
Here are some more rajma recipes that you may like – Kashmiri Rajma, Sundal, and Old Fashioned Kidney Bean Salad.
What Is Rajma
Rajma is a Hindi word used for Red Kidney Beans and is extensively used in North Indian, Pakistani and Nepali cooking.
It is also known as Rajmah, Razma, or lal lobia and was introduced in India from Mexico.
It is high in protein and fiber, making it extremely nutritious and a great ingredient to include in your everyday meals for protein intake, especially for vegetarians.
You get a lot of varieties of rajma such as Chitra rajma, Jammu rajma (Kashmiri rajma), and red rajma. Although many people say that Kashmiri rajma is the best, Chitra rajma is my preferred choice, as it cooks perfectly and gives the curry a creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Buy red kidney beans that are not more than 6 months old. The older beans get very hard and difficult to cook.
You can store dry rajma beans for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Refrigerate it to increase its’ shelf life even more.
Health Benefits Of Rajma
Rajma is a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians.
It is also rich in fiber, which improves healthy digestion and also keeps you full for longer.
It is great to include in your diet if you are on a weight loss journey.
Rajma is also high in folate and magnesium, which promotes heart health.
It also helps prevent certain types of cancers.
It is considered one of the best ingredients to stabilize blood sugar levels.
About Punjabi Rajma Masala Curry
Punjabi Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Curry) is one of the most popular North Indian curries where rajma (kidney beans) are cooked in a spicy onion tomato based bhuna masala. It is a protein-rich, vegan, and gluten-free curry.
Just like other popular North Indian dishes like Dal Makhani, Chana Masala, Butter Chicken, or Paneer Masala, this curry is also on the menu of almost all Indian restaurants.
A bowl of rajma chawal (steamed rice) with some ghee drizzled on top served with a side of masala onions and green chutney is the ultimate comfort food you can enjoy on a lazy Sunday. This hearty and healthy kidney beans curry also tastes great with phulka and paratha.
The recipe I am sharing today is a Punjabi-style curry. Like many other Indian dishes, each house has its own recipe to make it and with a slight variation here and there, it becomes a family-owned recipe that passes from generation to generation.
To make the Punjabi rajma masala recipe, the beans are soaked and then cooked until tender. You can cook them in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker or in an instant pot. I am sharing both methods in the post below.
Rajma Masala Curry Ingredients
Rajma – I always prefer Chitra variety, as it cooks really well. You can also go for Jammu Rajma or red rajma whichever is easily available to you.
Try to get dry kidney beans that are less than 6 months old, as the older ones might take a very long time to cook.
You can also use canned rajma in place of dry beans. The cooking process will become much faster in this case.
Oil – I like to use mustard oil to make Punjabi rajma masala as it adds a nice rustic flavor to the curry. You can also use vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter) instead.
Whole Spices – The addition of Indian spices like cloves, green cardamoms, and cinnamon in hot oil adds a nice aroma and flavor to the curry.
You can also add some cumin seeds, bay leaf, and black cardamom along with the whole spices for added flavor.
Spice Powders – To spice up this authentic Punjabi Rajma recipe, we will add a few basic spice powders such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder, dry mango powder (amchoor), and garam masala powder.
Tomato – This recipe uses both chopped fresh tomatoes and canned tomato puree. You can use homemade puree in place of canned puree but the canned one is concentrated and gives a lovely flavor to the curry.
You can also use tomato paste in place of tomato puree, just reduce the amount a little.
Others – You will also need onions, ginger garlic paste, salt, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).
How To Make Punjabi Rajma Masala Curry
Soak The Beans
Soaking the beans is very important. It not only makes the cooking faster but also makes them easily digestible.
Rinse 1 cup of dry rajma with water and soak it in 4-5 cups of water for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Rinse the beans once again and drain well.
Cook The Rajma
You can cook the rajma in a traditional pressure cooker or in an instant pot. We are looking for cooked beans that are very tender but still hold their shape. They should be easy to mash. If the rajma is not cooked well, the curry will not become creamy and it will be difficult to digest too.
Note – If using canned rajma, then skip the process of soaking and cooking the rajmah beans.
Cooking The Rajma In A Stovetop Pressure Cooker
Add the soaked rajma to a pressure cooker with 2 teaspoon of salt and 3 cups of water.
Put the lid on the cooker and cook on high heat for one whistle.
Now reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.
Open the lid and use the rajma to make the curry.
Cooking The Rajma In Instant Pot
Add the soaked rajma to the instant pot along with 2 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water.
Put the lid on and set the valve to the sealing position.
Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure.
Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the instant pot.
Make Punjabi Rajma Masala Curry
Heat 4 tablespoon mustard oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
While the oil is heating, roughly crush 2 cloves, 2 whole green cardamoms, and a 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick in a mortar and pestle.
When the oil is hot, add the crushed whole spices to the pan and let them crackle for 5-6 seconds.
Add 1 and ½ cups of finely chopped onions and fry until they turn light golden brown in color (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.
Add 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste and fry till onions turn dark brown in color (8-10 minutes). Stir frequently while frying.
Now add ¾ cup finely chopped tomatoes and 3 tablespoon canned tomato puree and cook for a minute. Mash the tomatoes while cooking with the back of a ladle.
Add 3 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin powder, 2 teaspoon dry mango powder, and ½ teaspoon garam masala powder and fry for 10-12 seconds.
Add ½ cup water and cook until the oil starts to separate on the sides of the pan (2-3 minutes).
Now add the cooked rajma along with the water in which it was cooked and reduce the heat to low.
Cook for 10-15 minutes. Slightly press a few rajma with the back of a ladle. This step will make the curry very creamy.
Add more water and salt if required and bring the curry to a boil.
Add 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro and serve hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make this red kidney bean curry without onion and garlic, just skip adding these two ingredients and keep the remaining recipe the same.
Yes, definitely! Use the liquid along with the canned beans as it makes the curry thick and creamy.
If you have forgotten to soak the rajma, you can soak it in boiling hot water for 2 hours. It will be ready to cook.
Sometimes the old stock of Rajma takes longer to cook, so if your Rajma is still uncooked, then just cook it for 2-3 whistles more.
Pro Tips By Neha
Rajma beans must be very well cooked to make sure the curry turns out creamy.
If the beans are not cooked properly, they can also lead to stomach upset.
To make it even more indulgent, you can give the ready curry a tempering of cumin seeds, green chilies (slit into half), and ginger juliennes in ghee or oil.
Adding a tablespoon of ghee (not vegan) at the end of cooking makes the rajma curry even more delicious.
Adding some crushed Kasuri methi at the end of the cooking also enhances the taste of this dish.
Punjabi rajma curry tastes the best the next day. So if you have time, then cook it a day prior to serving.
Rajma Chawal (steamed white rice) is a combination made in heaven. Serve some sliced onions, green chutney, and lemon wedges on the side. Make it a little more indulgent by drizzling some ghee on top before serving.
Rajma masala also tastes great with Brown Rice, Jeera Rice, Phulka, Naan, Lachha Paratha, or Tawa Paratha. You can serve some plain yogurt or raita on the side.
Leftover rajma curry can be used to make pulao. You can also dry out the curry and use it to make rolls and wraps.
Punjabi Rajma Masala Curry will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days in an air-tight container.
Reheat it in a pan or microwave until nice and warm. Add some water while reheating to adjust the consistency.
It is also freezer-friendly! You can store rajma in an individual container and freeze it for about 30 days. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it to serve again.
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Punjabi Rajma Masala Recipe (Red Kidney Beans Curry)
- 1 cup dry rajma (red kidney beans)
- 4 tablespoons mustard oil (or any other oil that you prefer)
- 2 cloves
- 2 whole green cardamoms
- 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 and ½ cups finely chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- ¾ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons canned tomato puree (or 2 tablespoon tomato paste)
- 3 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons dry mango powder (amchoor)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more if needed)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
Soak The Beans
- Rinse dry rajma with water and soak it in 4-5 cups of water for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Rinse the beans once again and drain well.
Cook The Rajma In Pressure Cooker
- Add the soaked rajma to a pressure cooker with 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 cups of water. Put the lid on the cooker and cook on high heat for one whistle. Now reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and use the rajma to make the curry.
Cook The Rajma In Instant Pot
- Add the soaked rajma to the instant pot along with 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 cups of water. Put the lid on and set the valve to the sealing position. Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid of the instant pot.
Make Rajma Masala Curry
- Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
- While the oil is heating, lightly crush cloves, green cardamoms, and cinnamon stick in a mortar and pestle.
- When the oil is hot, add the crushed whole spices to the pan and let them crackle for 5-6 seconds.
- Add onions and fry until they turn light brown in color (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till onions turn dark brown in color (8-10 minutes). Stir frequently while frying.
- Now add tomatoes and tomato puree and cook for a minute. Mash the tomatoes while cooking with the back of a ladle.
- Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, dry mango powder, and garam masala powder, and fry for 10-12 seconds.
- Add ½ cup water and cook until the oil starts to separate on the sides of the pan (2-3 minutes).
- Now add the cooked rajma along with the water in which it was cooked and reduce the heat to low.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes. Slightly press a few rajma with the back of a ladle. This step will make the curry very creamy.
- Add more water and salt if required.
- Add cilantro and mix well and serve hot.
My family really liked this rajma curry.thanks Neha
Awesome. Thnx a lot for trying and leaving your feedback 🙂
We loved this recipe. Thanks.
Wow rajma looking amazing.. nice chitra.
This recipe got me lots of compliments from my husband.
I made it with Jeera rice we will have chapati tomorrow.
We loved it.
Thanks a lot 🙂
How many whistles need to put
To cook rajma
Approximately one whistle on high heat. the lower the heat and cook fro 10-15 minutes.
I just made this and it was really delishhh! Thanks for sharing your rajma recipe!
Thanks for trying 🙂
Hi , can i ask what you mean by tomato puree ? As your recipe looks like blended canned tomatoes and not the actual tomato puree in tube (tomato double concentrate)
Hi Steven, in India we get tomato puree in tetra packs. I think it’s a little thinner and milder than what you get in tubes.
Beautiful and very clear instructions ,will be easily understood by a layman,greenhorn cook thank you neha mathur
Thanks for trying 🙂
This is the best rajma recipe I’ve tried!! Reminded me of my childhood when I fell I love with it! Thank you!
Good to know!
This was THE best rajma I’ve made. It’s creamy without actual cream, sweet and spicy ????. Even my boyfriend was blown away by this recipe! This is going to be my go-to rajma recipe!
Had a great time cooking ur recipe my fam loved it ❤️❤️
What is the ratio of canned beans vs the others?
You can take 2 cups of canned beans.
After almost 40 years, yea a long time, I got the flavor of Rajma Chawal I used to relish at lunch time @Nehru Place, New Delhi, Thank you very much.