Rajma (Red Kidney Beans with Spices)

Rajma is not something you will find on the menu in most Indian restaurants in the west, but it is the ultimate in North Indian comfort food. My recipe is very traditional. I recommend using dry red kidney beans, soaking them overnight and fully cooking them in a pressure cooker or boiling them until they are very soft and of melt in your mouth texture. The flavor of dry kidney beans is so much better than the canned ones. However, it requires some pre-planning which some times can be the most challenging part of cooking. In order to save time, I also use organic canned red kidney beans from time to time. This stewy dish is traditionally served with rice.

If using canned red kidney beans:

1 14 oz can of organic red kidney beans

Rinse the beans well and follow the recipe below.

If using a pressure cooker:

1 cup Dried Rajma or Red Kidney Beans

Wash and soak the dry beans overnight in 8 cups of water. They should double in size by morning. When ready to cook, discard the soaking water. Add 4 cups of fresh water in the pressure cooker and cook according to the instructions of your pressure cooker and follow the recipe below.

Rajma (Red Kidney Beans with Spices)

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: Overnight Soak: 8-10 hours. Cook time: 30-40 minutes.


  • 2 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbs ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt to taste



Heat oil in a medium size pot on medium heat.


Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf and let it fry for 20 seconds.


Add onions and cook until they are light brown on medium low heat for about 5 minutes.


Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 2 minutes with the onions.


Increase the heat to medium high and add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Continue to cook the tomato/onion mix for 5-7 minutes or until the water from the tomatoes starts to evaporate.


Add all the remaining ingredients and salt to taste, continue mixing and sautéing for another 5 minutes. You may add a tablespoon of water to make it easier to stir and pick up the flavoring from the bottom of the pot.


Add cooked red kidney beans. (If using canned, you will add 4 cups of fresh water here, and if using pressure cooked beans, add the water as well)


Turn the heat to high, bring the beans to a roaring boil.


As soon as the beans come to a boil, turn down the heat to medium and continue to simmer, uncovered for 15-20 minutes.


Check the salt and adjust accordingly.

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