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bowl of rajma masala with rice and salad on side

Rajma Masala

Shweta Arora
Rajma Masala is a thick and creamy red kidney beans curry in onion tomato base flavored with spices. Here is how to make Punjabi style rajma (traditional way) and as one pot in Instant pot.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 16 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For cooking the Red Kidney Beans (Rajma):

  • 1.25 cups red kidney beans lighter variety
  • 1 black cardamom Badi elaichi
  • 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 4 cups water

For the Rajma Masala:

  • 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 2 small bay leaves or 1 large
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds zeera
  • pinch asafoetida hing
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies finely chopped, adjust to taste
  • 3-4 tomatoes pureed about 1 cup puree OR use 1 cup store-bought tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional and for more flavor
  • 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi dry fenugreek leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoon heavy cream skip for vegan
  • ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped

Spices:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric haldi
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder adjust to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder dhania powder
  • ½-1 teaspoon Punjabi garam masala
  • ¾ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • teaspoon black pepper adjust to taste

Instructions
 

To cook the kidney beans

  • Rinse the kidney beans a couple of times and then soak it in 5 cups of water overnight (or for 8 hrs). The next morning, drain the beans and rinse once.
  • You can cook them in a pressure cooker, Instant pot, or stovetop. I prefer to use the pressure cooking method as it's quicker than a stovetop.
  • To cook Rajma in a pressure cooker
    add the drained and soaked beans along with salt, black cardamom, and 4 cups water to the pressure cooker. Cook on high heat for 4-5 whistles; then reduce heat to low and cook for 20-30 mins. Switch off the heat and wait for the steam to release naturally before opening the pressure cooker lid.
  • To cook Rajma in an Instant pot
    add the drained and soaked beans along with salt, black cardamom, and 4 cups water to the stainless steel pot. Close the lid, with vent to sealing, and cook on manual or bean and chili mode on high pressure for 25 mins. (Depending on the quality of kidney beans it may take longer).
  • To cook Rajma in a pot on Stovetop
    In a thick bottomed pan or dutch oven, add the drained and soaked beans along with salt, black cardamom, and 4-5 cups water. Cover and cook for about 50-60mins or more time until the beans are softened.
  • Test the beans to ensure they are nicely cooked. Press them between your thumb and finger and they should easily mash when pressed. Keep the cooked beans aside.

To make rajma masala

  • In a thick-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat oil (or ghee) on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida (thing), and bay leaves and cook until the seeds splutter.
  • Add in the onions and green chilli and saute till onions turn golden brown.
  • Stir in ginger and garlic paste. Saute till the garlic smell disappears.
  • Add the tomato puree and cook until the mixture reduces.
  • Mix in the tomato paste (optional and helps deepen the tomato flavor and color) and cook further until the masala thickens.
  • Add in the spices (turmeric, red chilli, coriander powder, garam masala) along with salt and pepper, and mix until well incorporated.
  • Cook until the masala starts oozing oil from the sides. That's the indication that bhuna masala is ready.
  • Add the cooked beans along with the water it was cooked in. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer on low.
  • Using the back of your spoon or ladle, mash a few of the beans (in the pot itself). You can also use a potato masher. This helps to make the curry thick and smooth.
  • Crush some Kasuri methi between your palms and add to the curry along with cream (skip to keep it vegan). Mix well and simmer for another 10-15 mins stirring intermittently.
  • Finally, add some cilantro leaves, mix well. The gravy thickens as it sits so adjust consistency if required before serving.
  • Creamy, delicious Rajma masala is ready! Serve with hot zeera rice and enjoy Rajma chawal with some salad or sirkewala pyaaz (pickled onions).

Notes

One-pot Rajma in Instant Pot

  • Rinse the kidney beans a couple of times and then soak it in 5 cups of water overnight (or for 8 hrs). The next morning, drain the beans and rinse once. Keep aside. Skip pressure cooking them in advance. They will be cooked with the masala directly.
  • On saute mode, make the onion tomato masala similar to as listed in "To make rajma masala" section above.
  • Once the masala is ready, add the soaked, drained beans along with black cardamom, salt, and 4 cups of water.
  • Close the lid, with vent to sealing, and cook on manual or bean and chili mode on high pressure for 30 mins followed by natural release.
  • If using unsoaked beans, pressure cook for 60-70 mins. Depending on the quality of kidney beans it may take longer)
  • Open the lid, check the beans are cooked right. Press them between your thumb and finger and they should easily mash when pressed.
  • Press cancel and start back on saute mode, adjust to low, mash the beans with the back of the spoon against the wall of the pot. It helps make the gravy creamy.
  • Stir in the crushed kasuri methi, cream, and simmer for another 15 mins stirring intermittently. Finally, add some cilantro leaves and mix well.
  • Creamy, delicious Rajma masala is ready! Serve with hot zeera rice and enjoy Rajma chawal with some salad or Sirke Wale Pyaaz (pickled onions).
 
Tips for best Rajma Masala
  • Use lighter large kidney beans, they cook faster.
  • Raw beans work better than canned since they have more flavor. Soak, and pressure cook them for that right texture i.e. soft, melt in your mouth, and not al dente.
  • Highly recommend soaking the beans as it aids digestion, prevents flatulence (gas), and also helps cook the beans faster.
  • If using canned, add two 15oz cans of kidney beans, rinsed and soaked. 
  • Use finely chopped onions, pureed tomatoes, and ginger garlic paste for smoother gravy. 
  • A tablespoon of tomato paste deepens the tomato flavor and also gives the curry a rich color. Can be skipped if it's not available. 
  • Saute the onion tomato masala until the oil oozes (also known as the bhuna method) for that ultimate flavor. No shortcuts here.
  • Skip hing to make it gluten-free
  • Simmer the curry. The more the curry simmers the better it gets as the flavors marry. It also helps thicken the gravy.  
  • Along with simmering, mashing beans will also thicken the curry.  
  • Leftovers taste the best the next day as the flavor develops and can be easily stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or can be frozen up to 3 months. 
  • To make it vegan, skip the ghee and cream, the rest of the ingredients and process remain the same. 
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