Rajma. Indian style kidney beans that are cooked with a delicious masala. It pairs best with steamed rice and is very popular in North India.

I grew up in Delhi and Rajma is nostalgic of our growing up years. For my sister and I, Rajma-rice is an emotion. It is nostalgic of mom’s cooking and mom’s love. Weekend lunches and this combination on the dining table was all love. Mom would keeps pots of hot rajma and steamed basmati rice on the dining table and our family of four, would wipe our plates, and pots clean.

My mom grew up in Rajasthan and my Dad grew up in Uttar Pradesh. Rajma wasn’t popular in either state. But they lived in Delhi after marriage. Mom is a fantastic cook, like all our mothers are. Once they begin to cook for their children and family, we tend to fall in love with our mom’s cooking. She eventually started to cook rajma-chawal for us as young kids and we fell in love. She used a pressure cooker to cook after soaking the beans overnight. After pressure cooking, she basically would make a masala or wet paste of the basic onion, tomato, ginger and garlic. She would usually sauté the masala in some ghee along with the usual dry spices and garam masala. The cooked beans along with the masala make for the most delicious vegetarian dish along with hot steamed rice or chawal as we call it in Hindi.

Rajma Masala

Now that I have young kids of my own, they are big fans of my childhood favorite meal as well. I introduced them to this delicacy when they were tiny and I make it a point to cook rajma for them at least once a week. I usually pair this meal with green chutney, boondi ka raita, papad and lots of ghee.

Mom has never taught me how to make this but I have always been around her in the kitchen whenever she cooked for us. I tried to pick from her cooking which was a beautiful mix of easy, convenient and detailed as and when required by the recipe. Unquestionably, this dish is as simple as it gets. The key is to washing and soaking the rajma well after picking the best sourced beans. If they are very old, they may take forever to cook as well. I prefer to soak the rajma overnight and discarding the water thereafter. We must then use clean water to boil until soft and well cooked.

After the beans have cooked very well, a delicious and well made masala is the key. Also, I try to keep the spice level medium so that it is kid friendly. I love to add fresh coriander leaves and ghee in the end. They import such a fantastic flavor to the gravy.

Rajma Rice

I hope you will like the recipe below. It is simple, delicious and nostalgic of home and Delhi. Happy Cooking ! Don’t forget the chutney and papad.


Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 people
Rajma. Indian style kidney beans that are cooked with a delicious masala. It pairs best with steamed rice, and is a popular dish in the North Indian cuisine.


  • 2 cups Rajma beans (I like to use the Chitkabra rajma variety)
  • 2 Medium red onions
  • 4 Large red tomatoes
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 Small piece of ginger
  • 2 Green chilies
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili powder
  • 2 tbsp Coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala powder
  • Salt (to taste)
  • ½ cup Chopped coriander leaves
  • 2+1 tbsp Ghee (or you may use an oil of your choice)


  • Take 2 cups of rajma. Wash and soak them overnight.
  • Next morning, discard the water used for soaking and pressure cook with fresh water, about 4-5 cups and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until they are soft and well cooked.
  • Separately, while the rajma cooks, coarsely grind (do not make a puree) 2 medium red onions, 4-5 red tomatoes, 1-2 green chilies, 2 garlic cloves and some ginger.
  • Once the steam has naturally released from the pressure cooker, remove the cooked rajma along with the stock in another bowl.
  • Heat the same pressure cooker and add 2 tablespoon oil/ ghee. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  • Add the wet masala. Mix well and begin to sauté the masala. Add 2 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili powder, ¼ tsp haldi, 1 tsp Garam Masala and keep sautéing on medium flame until the masala is well cooked. Once the fat starts to leave the sides and the color is a nice dark red, add the cooked rajma along with the stock. Check if you need more water and add more salt if required.
  • At this stage, feel free to add half a teaspoon more of Garam Masala.
  • Pressure cook for 1 more whistle. This will help to bring the masala and flavors together.
  • When the steam releases, add coriander leaves and half to one tablespoon of ghee. Serve hot with steamed white rice, some papad and chutney.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Beans, Indian Vegetarian, Kidney Beans, Protein, Rajma, Rajma Masala, Vegan

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