Go Back
+ servings

Rajma - How to make the best Rajma Masala Curry

Flavourful, nutritious Rajma masala curry of pre-soaked, well cooked red kidney beans in a thick onion gravy, spices & turmeric. Best with hot Rice or with flatbread.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 27 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Sujata Shukla


For the Rajma Masala

  • 1 cup Rajma -raw Red Kidney Beans
  • 4 cups water plus water for soaking the beans
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 pinch methi fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sliced fresh chilli or to taste
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste or 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste or 2 teaspoons minced peeled garlic
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 large potato cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder includes one pinch to be added while pressure cooking
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste

For the Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander leaves half of the quantity is for the masala, half for the garnish
  • lemon wedges optional


Soaking and cooking the Rajma

  • Wash the raw Rajma beans, soak in about 4 cups of water. The water should be at least twice the height of the rajma in the vessel in which soaked. Leave the rajma to soak overnight or for 10-12 hours.
  • After the period of soaking is over, drain the water completely and discard the water. Rinse the beans thoroughly with fresh water. Though Rajma is nutritious, the raw rajma beans contain a toxic element which is removed by soaking, rinsing and cooking in high temperature for adequate time as detailed in the instructions below. Remember that cooking times can vary depending on the variety and quality of the beans, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare the curry.
  • Pressure cook the soaked rajma beans in about 4 cups of water, a large pinch of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook on high flame and after the first whistle, reduce the stove flame and cook for another 4 whistles. After turning off the stove, allow the cooker to cool down and pressure to be released on its own, as the rajma will continue to cook during this time (about 10 minutes)
  • Once the cooker has cooled enough for the lid to be opened, check if the rajma has been cooked soft - press one between your fingers (cool the bean first!) and see if it gets mashed. If not soft and mashable, keep again in the cooker (add upto one cup of water only if all the water has been absorbed) and pressure cook again for 4 whistles on high flame. Usually if the rajma has been soaked overnight, it should get cooked the first time around. Drain the cooked rajma and this time retain the water in which it is cooked.

Prepare the ingredients for Rajma Masala Curry

  • Slice the chillies, mince the garlic and ginger. If preferred, use ginger and garlic pastes instead. The minced garlic and ginger add pleasing texture to the food. Mince the onion, dice the tomato into small even sized pieces (about 1 cm cubes) so that they cook fast and uniformly.
  • Peel the potato and cube it so you get pieces of about an inch in length. You don't want small pieces of potato in the rajma, large chunks are better. Place the potato cubes in a bowl of water till ready to use.
  • Wash and mince the fresh coriander leaves. I usually leave them in a small bowl of water so they remain fresh till I need them, and then I drain and mince the leaves just before using. Half this quantity is to be added to the masala, and the rest for garnish.

To make the Rajma Masala

  • Heat a large pan on the stove and add oil. When the oil is hot, add fenugreek (methi) seeds, allow to sauté for 5 seconds or till they burst. Don't let them blacken. Add green chilli slices, turn them so they scald all over (about 5 seconds)
  • Add minced onions, stir well and sauté till the onions are fried, 1 -2 minutes on low flame, stirring frequently so the onion does not catch at the bottom of the pan. Ensure the onions don't brown.
  • Add ginger and then garlic (paste or minced). Stir each well, sauté for about 5 seconds each, on low flame. Again ensure the garlic does not begin to brown.
  • Keeping the stove flame on low, add the tomato slices. Stir well. Drain and add the potato slices, stir well. Always stir so that the onions and garlic are lifted away from the bottom of the pan as they can easily catch and char.
  • Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala. Most recipes suggest adding the garam masala at the end (after adding the rajma) so that its aroma is retained in the curry, and you could do that too. I add the garam masala at this stage while making the masala. (Perhaps it is because I use a garam masala which is very aromatic and the aroma is retained even after pressure cooking the rajma masala as in the steps below.)
  • Again stir the entire masala well and sauté for 2 minutes on low flame. Add about half the minced coriander leaves and reserve the rest for garnish. Stir! Add the tomato puree, and stir.
  • Add the drained cooked rajma, stir briskly, (I stir till my arm aches!) turning the rajma and its masala several times, scraping the bottom of the pan so that masala does not stick. Stir for at least 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to the pressure cooker.
    Stir the rajma into the masala_PepperonPizza.com
  • Add back the water in which the rajma was cooked. You need sufficient water to just cover the rajma masala. Add more or less water depending on this. If you need to add fresh water as all the cooking water has been absorbed, ideally add warm water.
    Add water to the rajma_pepperonpizza.com
  • Stir once. Add salt to taste. (remember you have added a little salt while cooking the rajma, so a taste check would be helpful here). Close the cooker, and cook on high for 2-3 whistles.
  • To serve: Transfer the rajma masala to a serving dish, garnish generously with minced coriander leaves. I keep lemon wedges available for those who want to squeeze some lemon juice on the rajma.
  • Serve with hot rice and a salad. Goes well with roti and phulka too. Or even with a lightly toasted focaccia or bread. Thick rajma without its liquid is a nice filling for a wrap or quesadilla.