Rajma Masala (or Red Kidney beans curry) or “vegetarian chili” is a very popular North Indian dish served with roti (Indian flatbread) or plain steamed rice.
The “vegetarian chili” consists of steamed Red Kidney beans in a thick gravy of onions, tomatoes and spices. “Rajma Chawal” (or Red Kidney beans curry with plain steamed rice) is one of the most popular North Indian comfort food. This combination is a favorite of many Indians across the globe 🙂
Going back to its Origin
Red Kidney beans were initially grown in Peru, from where it spread to Central and South Americas. The European traders spread it further to Europe, Africa and Asia. Currently India, United States, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia are its major cultivators.
Rajma is known for it’s great taste and nutrition. It’s a rich source of protein and soluble fiber. The soluble fiber helps the body maintain blood sugar level. The dietary fiber helps reduce cholesterol. It’s also a good source of Iron.
Cooking the beans…
Well cooked kidney beans are always easier to digest! Prepping for this curry begins a day earlier. The beans are soaked for a minimum of 8-9 hours or overnight before cooking. This would make the beans softer and easier to cook.
I always belief, there is nothing called as cooking beans/ lentils al dente! Hence most Indian households use a “Pressure cooker” to cook their legumes/ beans daily. Using a pressure cooker saves you time and energy. If you aren’t using one, then boil the beans in a pot until it’s soft.
Salting your beans is the second important aspect. Salt it well!
Related recipes: Chole Puri, Phiki Dal, Aloo Methi
So let’s get started with my version of this popular dish 🙂
- 3/4 cup Red Kidney beans
- 1/2 big Red Onion chopped
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste or 2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
- 5-6 cloves
- 4-5 whole cardamon use the pods
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp Red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 Green chili
- 2 tbsp Cilantro chopped
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- Wash and soak Red kidney beans overnight or for 8-9 hours. Discard the water and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Let it cool.
- If not using a pressure cooker, boil 4 cups of water in a large sauce pan or kettle with lid. Add the beans and cook for 45-50 minutes, until the beans are soft.
- Take a medium sized pot and heat oil. Add bay leaves, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds. Now add chopped onions and cook until it turns pink and translucent.
- Add ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute. Next add red chili powder and turmeric and cook for a minute. Add the tomato paste (or chopped tomatoes) and water and bring it to a boil.
- If using the raw tomatoes, cook until the water from the tomatoes dries and the oil leaves it’s sides.
- Add the cooked beans, green chili and add water to get a gravy consistency.
- Add salt to taste and bring it to a boil. Now add coriander and garam masalaand let it cook for 15 minutes for all the flavors to soak in. Maintain the gravy consistency (for which you might have to add water).
- Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rotis or plain steamed rice. Enjoy!
- It’s always good to use a pressure cooker to cook your pulses and legumes as it’s energy and time efficient.
- You get canned red kidney beans in grocery which can be used instead. In this case, just add the canned beans to the gravy. Always use canned beans with less preservatives and salt content. In my opinion, it’s best to use fresh dried beans rather than canned ones!