Rajma recipe made with red kidney beans, spices, onions and tomatoes

Rajma Recipe | Rajma Masala | Rajma Chawal

Updated: September 3, 2023, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Rajma Recipe also known as Rajma Masala is a North Indian curried dish made with kidney beans, onions, tomatoes, plenty of spices and herbs. This delicious dish is easy enough to make for a healthy and hearty meal. Serve Rajma over Chawal (Basmati Rice) or with roti for a protein-packed vegetarian meal. My latest recipe will help you make mouth-melting Rajma Masala that you can either cook in an Indian pressure cooker or in the Instant pot.

Rajma Recipe made with red kidney beans, spices, onions and tomatoes
Rajma Masala Served with Chawal



Have no pressure cooker? No worries! Use canned red kidney beans for ease.

Rajma Chawal is a favorite combo in many North Indian households where Rajma Masala is served with Chawal (rice). Some onion & lemon wedges on the side is all you need to enjoy this delicious dish.

We Indians eat a lot of legumes regularly as they are the main source of protein and fiber. Skinned lentils, chickpeas, black eyed peas and kidney beans are some of the most commonly used in curries.

Apart from Rajma Masala, here is a list of popular dishes from North Indian Cuisine. They are often found on the restaurant menus and also cooked in North Indian homes.
Kadhi Pakora
Black Eyed Peas Curry (Lobia Masala)
Punjabi Chole
Dal Makhani
Chana Masala
Aloo Gobi

About Rajma & the kinds

Rajma is the Indian name for kidney beans. These are soaked, cooked & then simmered with onions, tomatoes & spices to make the dish, Rajma masala. It is also just referred as Rajma. It is the quintessential North Indian dish made on weekends, special occasions, weddings etc.

Rajma are fat free and have many benefits since they are high in fiber, folate and magnesium. High fiber promotes digestive tract health, folate & magnesium makes them a heart healthy food. Considering these benefits kidney beans are widely eaten in India.

If you are wondering what kind of Rajma to use, you can use whatever you like but remember the initial cook time changes with each of these. There are basically 4 or even more kinds of rajma, varying in sizes and colors. Red rajma, Chitra rajma, Jammu Rajma and yellow rajma are some of the most commonly available in the Indian stores.

Everyone’s choice is different. A lot of people love chitra rajma because they cook faster. If you begin to take a look at the different kinds of rajma available in the stores, you may easily get confused and not know which one to use.

I prefer to use the red rajma, though they take a little longer to cook. Red rajma taste delicious, have a lot of flavor and also makes your gravy thicker.

My Recipe

There are numerous ways to make rajma masala. In this post I share 2 ways to make the same recipe.

  • The traditional Punjabi style Rajma Masala. First soaked rajma is pressure cooked until tender, meanwhile a onion tomato masala is made separately. Lastly the soft cooked rajma is simmered in this masala.
  • The second method is a one pot dish made directly in the pressure cooker/ instant pot and for this method you don’t need to pressure cook the beans separately. Instead everything is cooked at one shot.

A typical Punjabi rajma or bhuna masala is made with chopped onions, tomatoes & crushed ginger garlic. However onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic can be used in various forms – grated, boiled & pureed or fine chopped for a preferred texture.

Read my pro tips section for texture variations and preferences.

How to Make Rajma Masala on Stovetop (Stepwise Photos)

Prepare rajma – soak & pressure cook

1. Add 1 cup rajma to a large bowl and rinse them well a few times in lot of water. Pour fresh water and soak for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Soaking helps to soft cook them well.

While you soak them , do not cover the bowl completely. Beans need fresh air while they soak, so cover them with a mesh basket or a thin breathable cloth. This prevents Rajma from turning sticky. When you are ready to cook, discard the water and rinse them thoroughly.

instant pot rajma

2. Transfer soaked rajma to a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot. Pour 1½ cups water and pressure cook until soft, for 4 to 5 whistles. Or in the instant pot for 12 to 16 mins, depending on the age of rajma. Once cooked they should be soft enough yet hold there shape. If you mash a rajma with your fingers it should get mashed easily.

If they are al dente pressure cook them again for 2 more whistles or for few more minutes while you make the masala.

pressure cooked rajma

3. For this recipe you will need

  • 1 cup fine chopped onions (2 medium or grated or boiled & pureed)
  • 1½ cups tomatoes (2 large, chopped & pureed, or 1 cup canned tomato puree)
  • 1 green chili chopped (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or 1 teaspoon each minced & crushed)
ingredients for onion tomato masala

Make Onion Tomato Masala

4. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee or oil in a pan. Add 1 bay leaf and half teaspoon cumin seeds (both are optional).

temper cumin and bay leaf

5. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions and green chili.

saute onions and chili for rajma masala

6. Saute on a medium heat until deep golden, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger garlic paste.

saute ginger garlic paste

7. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds without burning.

golden onions for punjabi rajma

8. Pour the pureed tomatoes and cook until the raw flavor of tomatoes is gone, for about 3 minutes.

pour tomato puree

9. Stir in the spices:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ to ¾ Kashmiri red chili powder (1 tsp for very hot)
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
spices in rajma masala

10. Saute for 2 to 3 mins until aromatic.

bhuna masala for punjabi rajma

11. Add the soft cooked rajma along with the stock (rajma cooked water). Pour more hot water, about ½ to 1 cup to bring it to a consistency. If using canned beans, drain the liquid and rinse them before adding here.

add pressure cooked rajma

12. Mix well and cook for 10 to 15 mins. Taste test and add more salt, ¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional), ½ to 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (crushed in the palms first).

kasuri methi and garam masala sprinkled over rajma

13. This is the consistency you will have. Optionally you may stir in 2 tablespoons heavy cream.

rajma masala in a kadai

14. It will thicken upon cooling down a bit. Garnish with 2 tablespoons coriander leaves & half inch ginger juliennes if you want.

texture of rajma masala

Sprinkle lemon juice while serving. Serve rajma hot with chawal (rice), onion and lemon wedges.

Rajma recipe to make Punjabi rajma masala

How to Make Rajma Masala in Pressure Cooker (Stepwise Photos)

Here I share pictures of making this in the instant pot but also writing the instructions for Indian stovetop cooker. I have tested this recipe in a 3 lts steel cooker and pressure pan for the number of whistles. However if you have a different cooker, you may need to cook for more whistles.

1. Heat a pressure cooker with 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee or oil. (For the instant pot, you will press the saute button and carry on). Add 1 small bay leaf, half teaspoon cumin seeds and onions and sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt. Sauté until the onions turn golden and about to caramelize. Stir in ginger garlic paste and saute for 30 to 60 seconds.

Do not burn and do not skip this step. Caramelized onions impart a wonderful flavor to the dish and they actually dissolve in the curry giving a thicker consistency. This step takes about 5 to 6 mins.

2. Add all the spice powders:

  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder (Kashmiri)
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

3. Turn off the heat (stove or instant pot – press cancel) and mix all the spices well. Do not burn them.

Make Rajma Masala

4. Add soaked, drained and rinsed rajma along with 2 cups water if cooking in instant pot. For the stove top Indian whistling cooker, pour 2 ¼ cups water. Mix and deglaze the pot well so any bits of food stuck at the bottom is released.

5. For the Stovetop Indian cooker, cover it and place the weight. Pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles on a medium heat. Please note that number of whistles may vary depending on your cooker. Meanwhile pour the tomato puree to a small bowl/ pot and cook on a medium heat until it loses the raw flavor. Cover the pot partially as it splatters a bit. This takes about 5 to 6 mins.

Instant pot: Place a trivet inside the instant pot and place your tomato puree bowl over that. Secure the Instant pot with the lid, press the pressure cook button and set the timer to 18 mins.

6. After the pressure cooker is done, wait for the pressure to release naturally. (pic of cooked tomato puree)

7. Open the lid and check if the rajma is soft. They will have a melt in the mouth texture. This is what we are looking for. Mash them with a spoon and check. Super soft! Yet they hold their shape well. Now optionally mash 1 to 2 tbsps of rajma and add it back if you want a thicker gravy.

Finish the Dish

8. Mix well and pour the tomato puree and simmer for 2 to 4 mins. You won’t smell the raw tomatoes at all. If you want add more hot water to adjust the consistency. If you are not serving right away it thickens more as it rests and cools down. So if you want it runny, add about ½ to ¾ cup boiling hot water & simmer for 1 to 2 mins. (No cold water here!).

9. Taste test and adjust salt. Add more ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala if required along with ½ to 1 tablespoon kasuri methi. Stir and take off from heat.

Garnish rajma masala with chopped coriander leaves and fresh ginger juliennes.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the Rajma and serve with chawal / rice, sliced cucumbers and raw onions.

Pro Tips

Choosing Rajma: Always buy your rajma from a store where the stocks move out faster so you get fresher stock of beans. Old beans (aged beans) that have been in the shelves for a long time take longer to cook. Sometimes won’t cook at all. Avoid them at all cost as they also don’t digest well.

However if you want to use up the stock you already have you may brine them in salt or baking soda as mentioned below.

Soaking Rajma: Soak your kidney beans well for 8 to 12 hours. Soaking beans before cooking helps in easy digestion, without making you feel bloated and experience flatulence. This process not only softens the beans cutting down the cook time, but also cooks them to a smoother and creamier texture. Well-cooked rajma are easier to digest.

Avoid sticky rajma: Rajma tends to become sticky and slimy when soaked for too long or left in the stock for too long after cooking because they haven’t been prepared well. Avoid covering the bowl while soaking, beans need ample amount of air to breath as they soak. Cover with a mesh basket or a thin breathable cloth.

Also rinse them well after soaking and change the water at least once if soaking for longer than 8 hours.

Avoid eating undercooked rajma: Consuming undercooked rajma is extremely dangerous and can lead to health issues. For the same reason you should not be cooking unsoaked rajma.

How to Make Rajma Masala Thick?

Slow cooking for long time to some extent makes the curry thick. I know a lot of people mash the rajma lightly once they are cooked in the masala. Here are my tips which will help you to get a thick gravy

  1. Blanch & puree the onions instead of grating or chopping.
  2. Puree the tomatoes and use. Chopped or grated tomatoes often separate water in the gravy.
  3. Blend/mash 2 tbsp of soft cooked rajma with little water and add it to the simmering gravy. Or puree them along with tomatoes & use. This will triple the taste, flavor & texture of your rajma masala. You will be surprised at how good your rajma smells & tastes.
  4. I haven’t used any cream like they do in the restaurants. However you can add a bit towards the end if you like.

FAQs

How many hours should rajma be soaked?

To get soft melt in the mouth rajma, they ideally need an 8 hours soak. However if you are short of time soak them in hot boiling water for 5 hours. Well soaked rajma are easier for digestion and help to achieve a creamier and smoother texture.

How many whistles to cook rajma?

Pressure cook rajma for 4 to 5 whistles on a medium heat. However it depends on the kind of cooker. Smaller cookers and pressure pans cook faster in about 4 to 5 whistles. Aged, organic & Non-GMO beans take longer to cook. Soak them for about 12 hours so they cook in 4 to 5 whistles.

How to boil rajma without soaking?

Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil and pour over 1 cup rajma. Cover and keep aside for 25 mins. Repeat this 3 to 4 times and keep draining the water. Under soaked and under cooked red kidney beans can be potentially toxic. So cook them well after this process.

How to make rajma with canned beans?

Drain all of the liquid from the cans. Rinse the rajma well under running water. This helps to get rid of the excess sodium in the canned beans. Make sure they are soft and not al dente. If they are al dente, boil them with fresh water until soft. Make the onion tomato masala and add the canned beans and cook with fresh water.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

rajma recipe

Rajma Recipe (Punjabi Rajma Masala)

4.99 from 598 votes
Punjabi Rajma Masala is a delicious curried dish of red kidney beans, spices, onions, tomatoes and herbs. Serve Rajma with Chawal (Rice) or with roti, paratha and naan. Make it in the stovetop pressure cooker, instant pot or in the regular pot. Instructions included for using fresh and canned beans.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Soaking8 hours
Total Time8 hours 40 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup rajma (dry kidney beans or 2 – 15 Oz canned beans (3 cups))
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee (or oil)
  • 1 small bay leaf (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera, optional)
  • 1 cup (120 grams) fine chopped onions (or ¾ cup grated or cube, boil & puree)
  • 1 green chilli ( chopped or slit, optional)
  • teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or 1 teaspoon each minced & crushed)
  • 1½ cups (2 large, 300 grams) tomatoes (chopped & pureed, or 1 cup canned tomato puree)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (Kashmiri or byadgi)
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala (¼ to ½ teaspoon for later)
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt (½ teaspoon more to adjust)
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Few Ginger juliennes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (fine chopped)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream (Optional)


Instructions

Prepare Rajma (or use canned beans)

  • Add rajma to a large bowl and rinse them thrice. Soak them uncovered in 4 cups water for at least 6 hours to overnight. Discard the water and rinse them well.
  • Transfer them to a stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot. Pour 1½ cups water and pressure cook until soft, for 4 to 5 whistles. Or in the instant pot for 12 to 16 mins, depending on the age of rajma.
  • Once cooked they should be soft enough yet hold there shape. If you mash a rajma with your fingers it should get mashed easily.

How to make Rajma Masala

  • Heat ghee or oil in a pot. Add cumin seeds and bay leaf. When they begin to sizzle add the onions and green chili.
  • Saute on a medium heat until golden. Stir in the ginger garlic and saute for a minute, until aromatic.
  • Pour the tomato puree & cook until the onion tomato mixture turns thick, for about 3 min.
  • Stir in the spices – red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and turmeric. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the masala begins to smell aromatic.
  • Add the rajma along with the stock (rajma cooked water). Pour more hot water as required (about ½ to 1 cup, only as required) to make a gravy. (If using canned beans, drain the liquid from the can and rinse them before adding).
  • Mix well and simmer for 10 to 15 mins, until slightly thick. To make the gravy thick, if you want mash a tbsp of the rajma and add back.
  • Taste test and add more salt, ¼ teaspoon garam masala if required and crushed kasuri methi. Optionally you may stir in cream and garnish with coriander leaves and ginger juliennes.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice before serving. Serve rajma with chawal (rice).

Instant Pot Rajma Masala

  • Press Saute button and pour ghee to the steel insert. When the ghee melts, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, chopped onions, green chili and salt.
  • Saute for about 5 minutes stirring constantly to cook evenly until golden, about to caramelize but not burnt.
  • Add ginger garlic & saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add all the spice powders – chili powder, garam masala, turmeric, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  • Press cancel. Add rajma and pour 2 cups water. Deglaze to release any bits of food stuck at the bottom.
  • Place a trivet and keep the bowl of tomato puree over that. Secure the IP with the lid and pressure cook for 18 mins (for softer beans, if you prefer al dente – 16 mins).
  • When the pressure drops, open the IP. Rajma should super soft, yet hold shape. Pour the tomato puree and cook for 2 to 3 mins on saute mode. For a thicker consistency, mash some of the rajma. (If required pour about ½ to ¾ cup water to bring to a runny consistency.)
  • Taste test and add more salt, ¼ teaspoon garam masala, cream (optional) and crushed kasuri methi. Press cancel.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and ginger juliennes. Serve rajma with chawal. Drizzle some lemon juice.


Notes

  1. Different kinds of rajma have different cook times. I have used dark rajma which takes longer to cook. If you use chitra rajma, pressure cook for just 10 mins in Instant pot.
  2. Saute the onions well until golden to light brown, about to caramelize. This gives a better flavor and texture to the rajma masala. This helps the onions to dissolve in the gravy & gives a thicker taste.
  3. You will need around 2½ to 3 cups water in total. Using lesser water can undercook your onion tomato masala and you won’t get a smoother gravy at the end. You may still adjust the amount of water to your need and taste.
  4. The amount of water to use changes if you alter the recipe.
  5. Beans and legumes that are sold since early 2023 are from the fresher stocks and they get cooked faster compared to those sold bet 2020 to 2022. This means you may need to cut down the pressure cooking times to avoid mushy beans.
  6. If using Canned beans, make the rajma masala on the stovetop and not in the instant pot. Start with 1 cup hot water to cook the rajma masala. As you cook, add more only if required.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

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NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Rajma Recipe (Punjabi Rajma Masala)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 269 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 19mg6%
Sodium 352mg15%
Potassium 972mg28%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 919IU18%
Vitamin C 25mg30%
Calcium 77mg8%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Rajma Recipe first published in November 2015. Republished in June 2022.

Rajma Recipe | Rajma Masala | Rajma Chawal

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
I love your recipes and this rajma masala turns out perfect every time. Perfectly spiced and mouth melting like the way my mom made it. We love a bit of chaat masala or amchur at the time of serving. This time I tripled the recipe to share with a friend and she loved it too. Thank you for posting such amazing recipes

5 stars
I made this in the Instant pot following the recipe and it turned out great. Thank you Swasthi

I soaked the kidney beans overnight and cooked them in a pot of water for 50 minutes. There are not tender yet. How long do they take to become tender? I will be making this dish later tomorrow.

5 stars
Amazing and delicious Rajma masala. I always made my foods from youtube with a hit or a miss. I discovered your website a few months ago and it was a beautiful experience. Your accuracy in listing down the ingredients is great. So far I have made your chana masala, tandoori roti, butter chicken and this rajma. I am surprised at the consistently wonderful results. Thank you Swasthi and you are an inspiration!

5 stars
Amazing rajma masala! You are my go-to for Indian recipes and this one did not disappoint. Followed the recipe exactly except to add a little tomato paste. Finished with heavy cream & it was great.

5 stars
Really well-made webpage, and of course a really tasty recipe too haha!

5 stars
I made this with dry beans, and it was easy and delicious. I have been searching for a good rajma recipe and this is very good.
All pantry staples make it economical, plus it’s nutritious.
I served it with plain rice and eggplant potato curry.

5 stars
Made this exactly and it turned out great. The only change is to add amchur.

5 stars
Love kidney beans! Tried this rajma recipe tonight and it was amazing. An Indian friend gifted me some ground spices that I used in here and the dish was very fragant & delicious. Next time I would add paneer and baby spinach.

5 stars
Delicious recipe. I have never cooked rajma before but love it so much. We have already made this recipe twice using canned beans for convenience but plan to make with dried rajma from next time. However I am confused about the different kinds of rajma in the near by Indian stores. Can I make this with white rajma? TIA

5 stars
Yours recipe is great, I have tried and everyone liked it, easy to find the spice as it is easyly available in the house, wants to try other dishes also, cheers ?

5 stars
I’ve now made this rajma masala for the second time. My teens devour it happily with brown rice. Husband says it’s the best beans he ever had. Now we know Indian cuisine is delicious and Swasthi’s is our go-to. Next week want to make your dal makhani.

Hi, I was planning on using canned kidney beans. How many cans would be equivalent to using 1 cup of dried beans? Thank you

5 stars
First time making North Indian Rajma masala and it was delicious

5 stars
good

5 stars
I was planning on making this in the instant pot! But why do you put the tomato puree on a trivet while cooking and not in with the rest of the ingredients? Can I add the tomato puree when I add the rajma? ? ?

5 stars
Namasté.

I made this last week. As a non-vegetarian, I mixed it with Keema, and it turned out delicious. Warmed up after 1 – 2 days, it even gets better, as the flavours will penetrate more into the beans and keema. Poured some raita over it: that made it perfect.

5 stars
I love your recipes and have made this recipe with canned beans before. It turned out delicious and this time I would like to start with dried beans. However I’m confused with so many different Instant pot timings on the internet from 20 to 45 mins. I’m yet to figure out the right timings. Any advice on this.

5 stars
I’ve made this recipe so many times over the past few years. I’m a college student and this is a cheap and easy recipe to make even if you want to use canned beans or canned tomato substitutes. It comes out great every time!

5 stars
Yummy! I make this rajma masala in the IP following your recipe. Turns out good everytime.

Quick question – can this be stored? How long does it last?