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Rajma Masala, a favorite North Indian curry made of Red Kidney beans in onion tomato masala(also known as Bhuna Masala) flavored with Indian spices. Rajma Masala that is popularly known as a Punjabi dish is widely popular not only in Punjabi families but almost every North Indian family especially if you are from the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh or Haryana, being a non-Punjabi I can tell you for sure. Rajma Chawal as it is famously known since it is best enjoyed with Steamed Basmati Rice has been one of the Sunday lunch items in our family(both sides). Rajma-Chawal, Chole-Chawal or Kadhi-Chawal one of these is made for weekend brunch/lunch in many North Indian households. As I had mentioned in my Chole Masala post that every North Indian swears by Maa ke Haath ke Rajma-Chawal, Chole-Chawal or Kadhi Chawal. Guests are served with either Dal Makhani, Rajma or Chole or Dal Tadka as one of the main dish along with one Paneer dish, some dry veg especially Aloo Gobi Masala/Bhindi Masala along with some raita(yogurt dips) especially Boondi Raita. This makes me remember an incident of few years back, when we visited our families in North India, wherever we went we were served Rajma curry along with few other dishes and my daughter who was around 7 yrs old that time said, why we everyone is has prepared Rajma for us.:) !! In my house also every alternate Sunday we have Rajma-Chawal for lunch with a glass of buttermilk. Yesterday night while I was soaking Rajma/ Kidney beans for Sunday lunch, it struck me that though I make it every other weekend, why I didn’t do any post on our family’s favorite curry. So here I am with my Rajma Masala recipe.
Rajma Masala (as I have mentioned above) is Red Kidney Beans curry in onion tomato masala flavored with Indian spices. The beans have to be soaked in a water overnight or at least for 5-6 hrs, this speeds up the cooking process and also easily digested without any flatulence problem. Soaked beans are then cooked in a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process else these take a long time to cook. Onion tomato masala with ginger and garlic is prepared with Indian spices and mixed with cooked beans. Rajma Masala goes best with Steamed Rice and can equally be enjoyed with hot Phulkas/Rotis/Chapati or Naan bread(check my Whole Wheat Homemade Naan without yeast recipe here). My mom always makes Jeera Aloo/Aloo Methi or Baigan Ka Bharta with it as a side with Chapatis. My kids love just rajma rice mixed together, no side dish with it. It’s a great weekend comfort food for us, after Dal -Chawal( check my Dal Tadka recipe here).
I use minimum spices in my Rajma Masala only garam masala and red chilli powder and only bay leaf and cinnamon stick, I feel the flavor of other spices overpower the taste of the real taste of this beans curry. You can add Rajma masala that is available in stores, I have never used that. Rajma Masala curry is like the vegan Chilli minus the veggies and cheese. Add some veggies of your choice to it and here you have another comfort food Red beans Chilli. Many times I add some veggies to leftover rajma masala, mix with some black beans and serve it with some nachos. My kids like to have Rajma/Red kidney beans this way also, as it tastes almost like Rajma masala.
Rajma Masala is a gluten-free and vegan dish, fit or the ones who are on special diets. It is a very good source of protein for vegetarians who avoid any kind of meat and eggs. Elders in our family always suggested having yogurt in any form and some salad like onions and cucumber with lemon dressing while having Rajma or any kind of beans as it helps in easy digestion and to avoid flatulence.
Let’s see how to make Rajma Masala my way..
- 2 Cups Rajma/Red Kidney Beans
- 1 Medium Onion
- 3-4 Nos. Tomatoes
- 4-5 Cloves Garlic
- Ginger small piece
- 1-2 Green Chillies optional
- 1-2 Tbsp Oil use any oil of your choice
- 1-2 Tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder optional
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
- Fresh Corinader/Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Wash and soak Rajma Beans in water for at least 5-6 hrs or overnight.
- After soaking time, drain water from the beans transfer beans to a pressure cooker add 4-5 cups of water, switch on the flame and let the water come to boil, remove the froth that accumulates on the top.
- Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt, let it boil for 5 minutes , close the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes. on medium and another 10 minutes on low flame.
- Once the pressure in the cooker goes down, check whether the beans are cooked or not.cooked bean is soft when pressed between thumb and index finger.
- Meanwhile when the beans are cooking, prepare the masala for gravy.
- Grind together finely chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies to a fine paste. Puree tomatoes separately
- In a non-stick pan, add the 1-2 Tbsp of oil, when oil is hot enough, add cumin seeds, once the leaves crackle add onion paste and cook till it turns light brown and the raw smell of the onions, ginger and garlic goes away.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes, add garam masala, red chilli powder, mix and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Take some cooked beans, add to the masala, mash and mix with it. Add the mashed beans and masala to rest of cooked beans and mix nicely. Adjust the consistency of water as per your requirement. Cook the rajma gravy for another 5-10 minutes so that the masala nicely blends with the beans.
- Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and serve with rice or bread of your choice.
- Rajma gravy thickens after some time, so add water accordingly.
- If you want to add other whole spices like whole black Cardamom, cloves and peppercorns, add with bay leaf and cinnamon stick while cooking beans.
- Taste of the gravy enhances after few hours of cooking as the masala blends with the beans and gravy well. You can cook a day ahead , cool and store in the refrigerator. Reheat and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.
Do try Rajma beans my way, I am sure you will love it as much my whole family loves it!! An easy to prepare in bulk for potlucks or parties as the main dish. For a no-onion no-garlic recipe, omit onion and garlic from the recipe, to prepare using only tomatoes and garlic. Add a 1-2 tbsp of yogurt to add volume to the gravy. This optional, as I mentioned above in the post that Rajma gravy thickens after cooking and kept for a while.
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