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Raajmah – Red Kidney Beans Curry

Talk about a classic recipe! A regular, on the weekly menu, Sunday special, and passed down over generations kind of recipe. Think of it as a hearty stew that is satisfying and completely comforting. Cooking raajmah is a labor of love, not because it’s hard to make, but because it requires patience and planning ahead. The dry beans need soaking for 6-8 hours and then cooking for a little while. Then you separately make a masala that adds to the simple and earthy flavor of those beans. And the result – absolute bliss! Eat raajmah by the bowlfuls by itself, serve it with some rice or enjoy it with roti/ naan. You will not be disappointed.

We are all lovers of raajmah in our house. I remember my mom cooking them at least once or twice a month and raajmah would also most likely be a part of a special dinner or when cooking for company. At my in-laws house, it was like clockwork – every. single. Sunday. One reason for that was that Dr. A absolutely loves raajmah. Even now, he always insists on me making a bigger batch, so that he can eat it for days in a row and freeze some…P.

For as long as I remember being around in kitchens back in India, I remember raajmah being cooked in pressure cookers. In the ages gone by, or even at present, in certain parts of India where people use outdoor stoves with wood or coal as the heat source, raajmah are cooked in open vessels/pans for a longer period of time. That flavor is hard to beat, but I will take the ease and convenience of cooking in my kitchen and in a pressure cooker. We need to choose our battles wisely – right?

For our friends with vegetarian diets beans form a great source of protein. When cooked with other groups of health foods, like olive oil for healthy fats; onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic for vegetables; and serving with whole grains; this recipe becomes a complete balanced meal.


Dry Raajmah/Red kidney beans – 2 cups

Ginger – 1 inch nub

Garlic – 3 cloves

Green chili – 1 (optional)

Yellow Onion – 1, small

Tomatoes – 3

Oil – 2 tablespoon

Heeng/Asafoetida – ¼ teaspoon (optional)

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Turmeric – ½ teaspoon

Red chili powder – ¼ teaspoon (optional)

Coriander seed powder – 2 tablespoon

Garam Masala – 1 teaspoon

Cilantro – 8-10 sprigs

Salt – to taste


First, I want to say that this recipe requires PLANNING AHEAD. Soak the dry beans for at least 6-8 hours. After soak time, drain the water in which the beans were soaked and give them a quick rinse. Set a pressure cooker on high heat and add the soaked raajmah to it, along with 7-8 cups of water and salt. Close the lid and wait until the first whistle of the pressure cooker. At this time, lower the heat to medium low and cook for 35-40 minutes.

While the raajmah are cooking, proceed to prepare the masala. In a blender jar add ginger, garlic, green chili (if using), onion (cut into big chunks), and tomatoes (cut into big chunks). Blend until everything is crushed and smooth. Set a heavy bottomed, wide frying pan on medium heat. Add a swirl of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Wait for the oil to heat up and then add heeng and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds begin to crackle and dance around a little bit in the oil, add the blended onion-tomato-ginger-garlic masala. Add turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, and a little salt. Mix and cook on medium heat until the masala is cooked. This method of cooking the masala on medium to low heat until all the moisture evaporates and the spices become fragrant is called “Bhoona” so “bhoono” the masala till all the liquid evaporates and you can see tiny oil droplets seeping out of the masala. The masala will eventually leave the side of the pan and come together. If the masala begins to stick to the bottom of your pan, add few drops of water to release those flavorful bits of masala stuck to the bottom of the pan. The color of the masala would deepen as you bhoono it but it should not get too brown, as in burnt…lol. Using a cast iron or nonstick (love my Scanpan) pan helps. This whole exercise of cooking and bhoonoing the masala should take you at least 20 minutes. Be patient with it. This is where all the magic lies..:).

After the raajmah have cooked for 35-40 minutes, turn the heat off and let the pressure release by itself slowly…10-15 minutes. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and mix the masala that we prepared into the boiled raajmah. Let the flavors marry and add garam masala and chopped cilantro to finish the dish. Give it a taste check and adjust salt. Serve Raajmah curry with rice or chappathis/naan.

Love – Vaishali.


  1. Open-pan – If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook raajmah in an open pan. Set them to boil with water and salt in a Dutch oven. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low so that the beans are gently simmering. Cover and cook for at least an hour. After that, check for consistency and doneness. You might have to add more water. At this point, add the bhoonoed masala and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour or until the beans can be mashed between your thumb and finger by gently pressing on it. Finish with garam masala and cilantro.
  2. InstantPot – I am sure some instant potters might have come up with time required to cook raajmah in Insta pot. I have not tried it.
  3. Crock-pot – Add soaked beans, 8 -10 cups of water, bhoonoed masala and salt to crockpot. Cook on high for 10 hours. Finish by adding garam masala and cilantro.
  4. Raajmah freeze very well. Once completely cooled, put in air-tight containers or freezer bags, label and freeze for 3-4 months. When ready to eat, thaw and reheat in a sauce pan.

Tools used:

Knife and chopping board

Blender/Food processor

Pressure cooker

Frying pan


Measuring cups and spoons

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