Rajma Masala

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Rajma Masala is a popular dish in Indian Cuisine. Kidney beans are simmered in an onion-tomato base sauce and some aromatic Indian spices. It is a highly nutritious, delicious, one-pot meal. Excellent protein-rich diet for vegetarians, and great for meatless options as well. Rajma Masala is typically served over steamed white rice. This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

 

Punjabi Rajma Masala

 

RAJMA MASALA

Rajma, also known as kidney beans curry, is a popular dish in the northern state of Punjab, India. Traditionally, rajma is soaked overnight, boiled, and mixed with onion-tomato-based sauce, called “Bhuna Masala” in Hindi. Slow-cooked with aromatic Indian spices, until it reaches a thick, stew like-consistency. Slow cooking enhances the flavors of this simple dish.

I am sharing my recipe for one-pot Rajma Masala, thus making it a little easier. I cook the soaked rajma along with the onion-tomato sauce and then pressure cook it to infuse all the flavors from the aromatic spices. Thus, keeping it simple, a one-pot meal is great for those busy weeknights.

I am also sharing a PIP (pot-in-pot) method for cooking brown rice. Since kidney beans and brown rice take around the same amount of time to cook, you can also cook rice at the same time. Meals can’t be easier than this!!

Typically, Rajma Masala is served over steamed white rice (Chawal) and some onion salad, but you can also serve it with some Indian flatbread, roti, or naan. I like to serve Rajma masala with some steamed Basmati Rice, some homemade yogurt, and some salad!

Pic Shown: Rajma Masala 

 

Punjabi Rajma Masala

 

INGREDIENTS FOR RAJMA MASALA

1 cup rajma, soaked overnight or a minimum of 4 hours

2 cups water

2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, adjust to taste

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, adjust to taste

3 tablespoon oil

salt to taste

A handful of fresh cilantro

FOR ONION PASTE

1 medium red or yellow onion, roughly chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon water for grinding

FOR TOMATO PUREE

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 inch ginger

1-2 green chili, adjust to taste

[OPTIONAL] FOR BROWN RICE

1 cup brown rice, rinsed

1/5 cups water

1 tsp ghee or oil; For vegan use oil

salt to taste

TO COOK RAJMA MASALA

Preparing this Rajma Masala is very easy, the only preparation involved in this recipe is the soaking time. I prefer soaking kidney beans/rajma overnight or a minimum of 4 hours. I believe soaking kidney beans not only reduces the cooking time but also enhances the flavors.

There are a couple of ways you can make this Rajma Masala, kidney beans/rajma can be boiled first and then slow-cooked in onion, and tomato gravy or you can make it as a one-pot, which is what I am going to do today. There are mainly two types of kidney beans/rajma available in Indian grocery stores, light kidney beans or dark kidney beans. I am using light kidney beans for this recipe.

In India, a pressure cooker is used to cook the beans. I remember my mom always used a pressure cooker to cook beans. It is so easy and convenient to cook beans in a pressure cooker. I love to cook beans in Instant Pot, it is so convenient. 

PREP FOR RAJMA MASALA

Drain and rinse soaked beans. Keep it aside.

Make an onion-garlic paste. Blend onion, and garlic into a smooth paste. Keep it aside.

Note: Add water as required to blend.

Make tomato puree. Blend tomatoes, green chili, and ginger into a smooth puree. Keep it aside.

Pic Shown: Step-by-step method of making Rajma Masala

 

Punjabi Rajma Masala

 

INSTANT POT RAJMA MASALA

Turn ON SAUTE (more). When it displays “HOT”, add oil, cumin seeds, and onion-garlic paste. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Note: Cook the pastedown, until almost all the moisture has evaporated. 

Add tomato puree, dry spices – coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, dry mango powder, and salt to taste. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until oil separates from the tomato puree.

Add rinsed beans and freshwater, and salt to taste. Mix well.

Optional: Place a trivet. In an insert (bowl) add all the ingredients for brown rice and place the insert on the trivet. Close the lid with a vent in the sealing position.

Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high) for 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.

Note: For no-soak beans, pressure cook for 50 minutes.

Open the lid, and check if the beans are soft and cooked. If required, add a few minutes of pressure cooking.

Turn ON SAUTE (more), and add garam masala, and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes or until desired thickness.

Note: Sauce thickens as it cools.

Adjust the consistency of the gravy, if desired add more water. Garnish with some fresh coriander. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Pic Shown: Instant Pot Rajma Masala

 

 

RAJMA MASALA AND BROWN RICE USING PIP (POT-IN-POT)

I love this concept of pot-in-pot cooking. Getting an entire meal done in just one pot. How cool it is?? However, it is important to understand how the pot-in-pot method works.

So basically, pot-in-pot cooking means, that multiple things can be cooked at the same time in the main pot (Instant Pot) using multiple, smaller pots or inserts that easily fit into the main pot.

For pot-in-pot cooking, I use the following stackable egg trivet (just the tall trivet). It’s dual-purpose you can use this for pot-in-pot cooking as well as for cooking eggs in Instant Pot. I also use stainless steel inserts or pots that easily fit into 5 quarts or larger Instant Pot.

Food that has a similar cooking time can be cooked using this method. For example, in Rajma Masala, it takes 30 minutes for dal to cook on Bean/Chili mode. Brown rice takes about 22-25 minutes of cooking. So, Rajma Masala and brown rice can be cooked together using the pot-in-pot method.

Similarly, you can also cook Dal Makhani (Madras Lentils) and brown rice using the pot-in-pot method. Here’s the recipe for Dal Makhani if you would like to check it out.

STOVETOP PRESSURE COOKER RAJMA MASALA

Follow the recipe as discussed earlier. Close the pressure cooker, after the first whistle, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 25-30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. The rest of the recipe is the same as Instant Pot.

Pic Shown: Rajma Masala

 

Punjabi Rajma Masala

 

TIPS FOR BEST RAJMA MASALA

SOAKING BEANS – I prefer to soak kidney beans overnight or a minimum of 4 hours before cooking. Soaking the beans not only reduces the cooking time but also enhances the taste and flavor of Rajma Masala. If using dry beans, double the cooking time.

LIGHT OR DARK KIDNEY BEANS – I use both, light and dark kidney beans depending upon the availability. Light kidney beans take less time to cook as compared to dark ones. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Also, depending upon the type of beans used, the Rajma masala will turn out light or dark in color.

SAUCE OR GRAVY – Onion paste or chopped onions, both work fine in this recipe. However, if using the onion paste, cook the pastedown. Beans absorb flavors from the sauce, so depending upon how flavorful the sauce is, the Rajma Masala will turn out. 

FRESH OR CANNED TOMATOES – I use both fresh and canned tomatoes, depending upon the availability. With canned tomatoes, the sauce turns bright in color. 

COOKING TIME – Depending upon how old the kidney beans are, the cooking time will vary. Sometimes, even after soaking the beans overnight, I still have to cook them longer. Please use timing as a guideline, and adjust the cooking time as needed.

Also, light kidney beans take less time compared to dark ones.

CANNED BEANS – If using canned kidney beans, follow the same recipe, and pressure cook for 10 minutes. This will allow beans to absorb all the flavors to blend in well.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

SOAKING KIDNEY BEANS 

I prefer to soak kidney beans overnight or a minimum of 4 hours before cooking. Soaking the beans not only reduces the cooking time but also enhances the taste and flavor of Rajma Masala. I remember my mom always use to soak beans for good reasons before cooking.

Soaking the beans before cooking helps break down some of the complex sugars and also reduces the cooking time. It makes it easy to digest for some people. It also cleans them thoroughly (since beans cannot be washed before being sold or they can turn moldy).

Soak beans in enough water overnight or for a few hours, discard the water the beans are soaked in, and rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking.

Cooking beans can be very tricky at times. Depending upon the quality of the beans, if it is aged (old), they might take longer to cook even though it is soaked overnight. 

FORGOT TO SOAK BEANS, CAN I STILL MAKE RAJMA

Yes, you can. Soak the beans in hot water for 45-60 mins, covered. After 60 mins, discard the water beans are soaked in, rinse beans with fresh water and they are ready to be used in the recipe.

You may have to adjust the cooking time, since these may take a little longer to cook as compared to ones that have been soaked overnight.

CAN I USE CANNED BEANS

Yes, you can use canned beans for this Rajma Masala. Follow the same recipe, drain and rinse the beans. Cook beans on Pressure Cook / Manual mode (high) for 10 minutes. This will allow all the flavors to incorporate well. Rajma masala is ready to be devoured.

Reduce the amount of water to half, as these beans are already cooked. You need water only to make the sauce or gravy.

HOW TO SERVE RAJMA MASALA

Rajma Masala is typically served over steamed white rice (chawal), some yogurt, and some onion salad. 

I also like to serve Aloo Gobi / Cauliflower Potato Curry as a side dish. 

 

Punjabi Rajma Masala

 

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Punjabi Rajma Masala

Rajma Masala / Kidney Beans Curry

Jyoti Behrani
Rajma Masala is a popular dish from Indian Cuisine. Kidney beans are simmered in an onion-tomato base sauce and some aromatic Indian spices.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Soaking Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

INGREDIENTS FOR RAJMA MASALA

FOR ONION PASTE

  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon water for grinding

FOR TOMATO PUREE

  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1-2 green chili, adjust to taste

[OPTIONAL] FOR BROWN RICE

  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 1/5 cups water
  • 1 tsp ghee or oil; For vegan use oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

PREP FOR RAJMA MASALA

  • Drain and rinse soaked beans. Keep it aside.
  • Make an onion-garlic paste. Blend onion, and garlic into a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
  • Note: Add water as required to blend.
  • Make tomato puree. Blend tomatoes, green chili, and ginger into a smooth puree. Keep it aside.

INSTANT POT RAJMA MASALA

  • You will need Instant Pot
    Optional: Insert PanTrivetSteel Tongs
    Turn ON SAUTE (more). When it displays “HOT”, add oil, cumin seeds, and onion-garlic paste. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
    Note: Cook the pastedown, until almost all the moisture has evaporated.
  • Add tomato puree, dry spices – coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric, dry mango powder, and salt to taste. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until oil separates from the tomato puree.
  • Add rinsed beans and freshwater, and salt to taste. Mix well.
  • Optional: Place a trivet. In an insert (bowl) add all the ingredients for brown rice and place the insert on the trivet. Close the lid with a vent in the sealing position.
  • Turn ON MANUAL / PRESSURE COOK (high) for 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.
    Note: For no-soak beans, pressure cook for 50 minutes.
  • Open the lid, and check if the beans are soft and cooked. If required, add a few minutes of pressure cooking.
  • Turn ON SAUTE (more), and add garam masala, and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes or until desired thickness.
    Note: Sauce thickens as it cools.
  • Adjust the consistency of the gravy, if desired add more water. Garnish with some fresh coriander. Serve hot with steamed rice.

STOVETOP PRESSURE COOKER RAJMA MASALA

  • Follow the recipe as discussed earlier. Close the pressure cooker, after the first whistle, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 25-30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. The rest of the recipe is the same as Instant Pot.

Notes

  1. Thoroughly wash beans and soak them in enough water (beans:water = 1 cup:3 cup) overnight or 4 hours. Before cooking beans, discard the water the beans were soaked in, rinse beans and use them as suggested.
  2. For no-soak beans, increase the cooking time to 50 minutes. Rest is same. 
  3. I prefer onion paste, it gives nice texture to the gravy. But you can use chopped onions, tomatoes for this recipe as well. If using onion paste, cook the paste properly. 
  4. Cooking Rajma Masala can be very tricky at times. Depending upon the quality of the beans, if it is aged/old, it might take longer to cook even though it is soaked overnight. Please use timing as a guideline. If required add additional cooking time. 
  5. Canned beans can also be used in this recipe. Follow the same recipe, drain and rinse the beans. Cook beans on Pressure Cook / Manual (high) for 10 minutes. This will allow all the flavors to incorporate well. Reduce the amount of water to half, as these beans are already cooked. You need water only to make the sauce or gravy.
  6. Rajma Masala tastes even better the next day, as the beans soak up all the flavors.
  7. For brown rice, we like the rice well done. Ratio 1:1.25, rice:water can also be used.
  8. Tips For Best Rajma Masala - please refer to the post earlier
  9. Frequently Asked Questions - please refer to the post earlier
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Jyoti Behrani

Hello!! Welcome to my blog, my journey Living Smart and Healthy! Cook with me easy and authentic Indian food and around the globe. Will be sharing tips and tricks on easy authentic cooking, without spending hours in the kitchen or comprising on authentic flavors. Keeping things simple and healthy is what I am all about. Life is simple, so lets keep cooking simple too!!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marie

    It lists dried mango powder in the directions, but not in the ingredients list. Is this necessary for the dish? How much should be added?

    1. Jyoti Behrani

      Hi, You can skip the dried mango powder, since we are using some lemon juice after pressure cooking the beans. Thanks!

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