Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew)

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking

Red kidney beans in dazzling rich gravy, infused with an array of spices! As it simmers, the taste gets fuller, the flavor gets more robust and you get that cozy feeling. Here in Bangalore, we are at the peak of monsoon season and Rajma is one of those hearty rustic meals that fit the season perfectly. We have been waking up to grey clouds everyday. On some days, it keeps drizzling non-stop and on other days, the heavy showers are accompanied with chilly wind. Loving every bit of it, especially since the past few months were a little too warm. 

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking

Rajma happens to be Arvind’s favorite dish. Like most North Indians, he grew up eating Rajma Chawal. Chawal meaning steamed rice and it is the most desired pairing option with this luscious aromatic red kidney bean stew. The balanced texture of the fluffy white rice with the spice loaded gravy and that creamy red kidney bean is somehow, quite satisfying.

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking

Preparing Rajma needs planning and patience. Soaking the dried beans overnight is extremely crucial, as it not only fastens the cooking time but it also helps digesting the beans. Indians love their pressure cooker and although it’s not one of my favorite cookware, it sure does bring down cooking time by a great deal. And it comes quite handy when you need to boil beans or lentils.

Of course, you could always use canned beans and make it much speedier!

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

Prep Time: 8 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 2

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Bean Stew)


  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 200 gram tomato puree
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • salt
  • oil


  • Boil the soaked beans using a pressure cooker until they’re tender but still hold the shape.
  • Finely chop garlic, ginger and onion in a food processor.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom pan and drop the whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom and clove). Once it starts to splatter, add finely chopped garlic, ginger and onion. Sprinkle salt, turmeric and cook in medium heat until it’s golden in color.
  • Next, scatter the boiled red kidney beans along with cumin powder, chili powder and coriander powder. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes and then, pour tomato puree along with ½ cup of water. Sprinkle some salt and sugar.
  • Allow it to simmer in medium heat for about 15 minutes until the gravy gets thickened and flavor starts coming out.
  • Check for salt and add any, if required.
  • Finally, sprinkle garam masala, give it a stir and cook for another couple of minutes before turning off the stove.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice and scatter some chopped cilantro on top.
  • Serve warm with fluffy steamed white rice.
  • Notes: If you don’t want to use pressure cooker, allow more cooking time as you simmer the soaked red kidney beans. You can follow the same recipe but just make sure that after you add kidney beans to the heavy bottom pan, add a lot more water, bring it to a boil, cover and let it simmer until the beans are tender but still holding shape. If the water gets absorbed but the beans are still not done, add more water and continue simmering. Add tomato puree only after the beans are done.


The preparation time will reduce to a lot if you are using canned beans.


Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Stew) | Playful Cooking


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Looks soo delicious kankana! gorgeous clicks!

Looks super duper delicious and I love the photo styling too. Beautiful!

Love this dish! Yours looks delish. xo

Appu says:

rajma chawal on a windy blustery rainy day, and then a nap in a dark room seasoned with putter patter of rain drops on the windowsill. Anything better than that?? Always relied on my punju friends for this dish. Now I’ll try my hand at it. Btw. Ur pics are absolutely amazing. Makes me want to nose dive into the food right away. Would u give me lessons ?? Appu

Kankana Saxena says:

Thanks Appu 🙂 I did shared two tutorials few years back! Will hopefully share more in future!

Anindya says:

A nicely made rajma chawal is always an object of desire for anyone and your pictures are drool worthy for sure . Great post

Your photos always make me drool! Love the look of this dish and definitely suited to our icy winter days at the moment.

Kankana Saxena says:

Thanks Alida! You works is absolutely inspiring and am a fan 🙂 xx

Hi Kankana. A complete feast of colour, texture and flavour. I love beans in all forms and your masala bean stew is all this in one bowl. Beautiful.