Rajma Masala / Rajma Chawal / Red Kidney Beans Curry With Rice


Merry Christmas and hope everyone’s enjoying the much-needed break this holiday season! We had a good time taking in some really pretty winter scenery on a frozen lakefront home with friends. Now, there’s something about white winter scenes that makes you want to eat everything that’s got a deep red hue with hot steam wafting upwards. This recipe fits the bill perfectly. Its red, fiery and has everything going for it including being able to store well for months in the coldest Alaskan cellar. So here’s a wonderfully warm recipe for the most wonderful time of the year!

moosehead lake, ME and rajma chawal

Rajma and Chana masala are both so similar and usually made with the same ingredients that most Punjabi sauces use –  onion, tomatoes, ginger/ garlic and some dry spices. But here’s how I differentiate them – the onion:tomato ratio, which can make the difference between a tangy red curry and a full-bodied sauce. It can be anything from 1:1 to 1:2 or even 1:3. For me, the deep red rajma curry derives a lot of its tanginess and color from the tomatoes – so I go with 1:3. And it was FANTASTIC, to quote D 🙂


Rajma Masala / Rajma Chawal / Red Kidney Beans Curry With Rice

Serves: 4 | Cooking Time: 40 minutes


  1. 1 cup dried rajma (red kidney beans), soaked overnight or in hot water for 3-5 hours (substitute with 2 cups pre-soaked red beans)
  2. 1 large onion, pureed
  3. 3 medium tomatoes, pureed
  4. 2 green chilies (optional), pureed along with the tomatoes
  5. 3 tbsp oil
  6. 1 or 2 dry bay leaves
  7. 2 cinnamon sticks
  8. 3-4 cloves
  9. 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  10. 1/2 tbsp ginger+garlic paste (substitute with minced ginger garlic or just ginger)
  11. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  12. 3/4 tsp red chili powder (substitute with paprika or cayenne pepper)
  13. 2 tsp ground coriander (dhaniya powder)
  14. 1/4 tsp ground cumin (jeera powder)
  15. 1/2 tsp ground-spices powder (garam masala)
  16. salt to taste
  17. 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  18. few stalks fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped, for garnishing
  19. 1 – 1 1/2 cups stock from cooking the rajma (or just water) to thin sauce to required consistency


  1. Cook the rajma with water, enough to cover all the beans and stand up to an inch over the soaked beans, along with some salt to flavor the beans until its cooked but still has a bite left (not very mushy and soft). While the beans are cooking, get started with the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and jeera and saute for a few seconds until they start browning and there’s an aroma from the tempering of whole spices.
  3. Add pureed onions and cook for 3-4 minutes on med heat, along with some salt, until all the moisture has evaporated and onion paste turns golden brown.
  4. Add turmeric powder and ginger garlic paste and saute for another minute.
  5. Add pureed tomatoes and chilies and saute for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the dry spices (red chili powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala) and combine.
  7. Cook with lid on, stirring frequently, for 7-10 minutes on med heat until the curry develops a deeper color and oil begins to separate from the mixture.
  8. Add the cooked rajma and 1 to 1.5 cups rajma stock to bring the curry to desired consistency and combine.
  9. Cook for another 5 minutes with lid on to allow flavors to combine/
  10. Sprinkle chopped coriander and turn off the heat.
  11. Add the lemon juice at the very end and serve hot with steaming white rice!

Step-by-Step cooking pictures:

rajma masala - step by step recipe

One Response to “Rajma Masala / Rajma Chawal / Red Kidney Beans Curry With Rice”
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  1. […] that time of the year again when red curries are all the rage – nothing better to warm the senses when the temps take a deep dive out […]

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