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Rajma – Easy Spicy Red Kidney Beans Curry

May 12, 2010

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Rajma is an all time favorite dish. My mother never made it much when I was a child but I remember her making it quite often when I was in college. She usually made some fresh, crispy parantha’s with it and some tangy raita. I think this had a lot to do with how easy it is to prepare, if you’re armed with a good pressure cooker and a few basic Indian ingredients.

Dark Red Kidney beans - Rajma

Dark Red Kidney beans - Rajma

Rajma is a popular North Indian dish and is usually eaten with an extra vegetable preparation, rice and paratha’s or poori’s. As is with most other North Indian dishes, the usage of dairy products is pretty common in the dish, as a garnish or as a main component itself; for ex. in the marinade. Traditionally, Rajma is made in Ghee and garnished with fresh cream and yogurt. Going with the healthy theme of OneLifeToEat, my version is made in vegetable oil and has a garnish of yogurt, to thicken the curry.

Rajma curry

Rajma curry

Get a printable version of this recipe here.

To make Rajma for 2, you will need:

  • 1.5 cups dark red kidney beans, washed and soaked overnight (about 9 hours) in 3 cups of warm water
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large pod od garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 1tsp Cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small green chili, sliced lengthwise (I use the thai chilies)
  • 1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Dhania-Zeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala powder
  • Salt to taste – about 1.5 tsp
  • A big dollop of fresh yogurt, lightly whipped
  • Chopped cilantro leaves and lemon juice for garnishing


  • Soak the beans overnight. When ready to cook, drain the water and keep aside
  • In a medium pressure cooker, heat the oil. When heated, add the whole spices – Cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and star anise
  • When the spices release a fragrance and the cumin seeds pop, add the sliced chili, chopped onions and garlic. Cook on medium heat, and when the onions are a light brown, add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute or so more
  • Then add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft
  • Add all the dry spices, mix well and wait for the oil to separate from the mixture. Finally, add the soaked beans with about 1 up of water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. You can also cook this in a large pot, adding water as needed. It’ll take about 4-5 hours.
  • When the beans are cooked, make sure there is no excess water. Burn off any extra water by cooking on high heat and stirring constantly
  • Allow the Rajma to cool a little, and add the whipped yogurt. Garnish with chopped cilantro and a little lemon juice. Enjoy with Zeera Rice, Parathas or Rotis.

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