Rajma Masala

Rajma Masala is one of the most popular North Indian vegetarian curry. It is  prepared with red kidney beans in a spiced tomato based gravy. It is traditionally prepared with dried red kidney beans. But you can also be prepare with canned beans to make it faster on busy nights. Paired with steamed white rice, it’s a very comforting hearty meal. Here I am sharing with you both the method of preparing in stove stop and electric pressure cooker.

What is Rajma Masala?

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans North Indian Curry) is a dazzling rich curry, infused with an array of whole and powdered spices!

As it simmers, the taste gets fuller, the flavor gets more robust and you get that cozy feeling. Often people tend to name the dish Rajma Chawal and that’s only because this dish is paired best with steamed white rice (chawal). 

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 (North Indian Style Red Kidney Beans)

What different ways can you prepare Rajma Masala ?

  • Typically you will soak red key beans overnight and then boil the beans in pressure cooker. The boiled beans will then cooked in stove top with spices, onion, garlic and tomato.
  • If you have an electric pressure cooker, it becomes a one pot meal. And you don’t need to soak the beans overnight. You saute everything along with spices and the dried red kidney beans, then pressure cook it until it’s tender but still holds shape.
  • You can also follow the slow cooking method of sautéing everything in a heavy bottom pan and let the beans simmer along with the spices in the tomato based gravy, until it turns tender.

All these three methods tastes equally good. It’s all up-to you to pick your preferred choice of cooking.

Rajma Masala (North Indian Style Red Kidney Beans)

Prepare Rajma Masala without soaking the beans!

Yes, you can absolutely prepare rajma masla without soaking the beans. For that you either have to use the slow cooking method in a heavy bottom pot or use the Electric pressure cooker.

Having said that, there are several articles where they mention soaking beans for few hours helps in digestion while other says it doesn’t matter. So choose what you prefer!

I used Mealthy Pressure cooker when I prepare it without soaking.


What ingredients goes in Rajma Chawal?

Every family has their own way of preparing Rajma Chawal. I choose the most simple method with few basic every day spices.

Onion, Garlic, Ginger: Like most Indian curries, the combination of onion garlic and ginger is a must foundation to build the essence of the curry.

Tomato: I like to go for canned tomato puree only because it gives the gorgeous red hue to the curry. But you can definitely use whole tomato, boil and then blend to make your own tomato puree. Alternatively, you can also add chopped tomato.

Red Kidney Beans: I go for the dark red kidney beans manly for the rich color, but you can go for the light red kidney beans too.

Food Photography with Red Kidney Beans Indian Style

Spices that goes in:

The cooking starts with whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and clove). In the middle of the cooking, ground cumin, ground cardamom and ground chili powder goes in, along with turmeric. At the end of the cooking little bit of Garam Masala is added.

I keep it quite simple, but you can ignore all these spices and just use store bough rajma masala instead.

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 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.

Here are couple more recipes you will love:

Chicken Ghugni

Chickpea Shrimp In Makhani Sauce

Rajma Masala in stove top (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

Rajma Masala in stove top (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes


  • 1/2 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato puree or 2 juicy tomato blended
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cloves
  • 5 green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • fresh lemon juice
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil


  1. Boil the soaked beans using a pressure cooker until they’re tender but still hold the shape.
  2. Finely chop garlic, ginger and onion in a food processor.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottom pan and drop the whole spices (bay leaf, 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.
  4. 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 1 cup of water. Sprinkle some salt and sugar.
  5. Allow it to simmer in medium heat for about 15 minutes until the gravy gets thickened and flavor starts coming out.
  6. Check for salt and add any, if required.
  7. Finally, sprinkle garam masala, give it a stir and cook for another couple of minutes before turning off the stove.
  8. Squeeze some lemon juice and scatter some chopped cilantro on top.
  9. Serve warm with fluffy steamed white rice.
  10. 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.

Comforting Indian food - Red Kidney Beans with Rice
Did you enjoy this Rajma Masala? Share your creation by tagging @playfulcooking on Instagram with the #playfulcooking and I will re-share in my story!

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Comments are closed.

  • Janani Rakesh Kumar
    Janani Rakesh Kumar
    July 5, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    Looks soo delicious kankana! gorgeous clicks!

  • angiesrecipes
    July 5, 2016 at 11:40 AM

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

  • jenn | foodess
    jenn | foodess
    July 5, 2016 at 10:05 PM

    Love this dish! Yours looks delish. xo

  • Appu
    July 6, 2016 at 12:44 AM

    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
      Kankana Saxena
      July 13, 2016 at 3:47 AM

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

  • Anindya
    July 7, 2016 at 12:23 AM

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

  • Alida Ryder
    Alida Ryder
    July 7, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    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
      Kankana Saxena
      July 13, 2016 at 3:48 AM

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

  • Di@Bibbyskitchen
    [email protected]
    July 7, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    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.

  • mobasir hassan
    mobasir hassan
    January 8, 2021 at 8:14 AM

    One of my favorite and truly appreciate the way you made this rajma masala. We often made it at home and now it would like yours. Thanks for the yummy recipe and looking forward for more such delicious recipes in future too.

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