Rajma Masala (Indian Kidney Bean Curry)
Kidney beans simmered in a mildly spiced and light onion-tomato based curry. Rajma is traditionally a North Indian dish that is cooked regularly in Punjabi households. However, it has now become popular across India and is served in most Indian restaurants. This used to be one of my favorite meals while growing up and still is. My daughter loves a bowl of rajma with rice topped with a dollop of natural yogurt.
I learnt this recipe from my mom, who unquestionably makes the best Rajma curry. The recipe is a homestyle version where the curry is light and mildly spiced as opposed to what you would eat in a restaurant. Restaurants serve Rajma masala with a thick creamy and spicy curry.
The kidney beans are soaked overnight and boiled in a pressure cooker before adding them to the curry paste. You can also use the canned kidney beans if you want to make this for a quick weekday dinner or if you do not have a pressure cooker.
Conventionally, rajma is served with boiled basmati rice but you can eat it with rotis or paratha if you prefer. I promise it tastes divine any way you eat it.
Prep time: 20 minutes (excluding soaking time for 8 hours)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 people
1.5 cups kidney beans (I use the dark red variety)
1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
2 large tomatoes blended into a puree or a can of tomato pulp
1 inch ginger + 1 green chily - finely chopped or made into a paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp oil or ghee
10-12 Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
Rinse and soak the kidney beans in enough water overnight or for 8-9 hours. Next day, discard the water and rinse the beans again in fresh water.
In a pressure cooker, take both the rajma and 4 cups water. The level of water should be an inch above the rajma. Add a tsp of salt. Pressure cook on a medium to high flame for 15-20 minutes.
When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid, check if the rajma is cooked. You should be able to mash the bean by pressing it between your fingers. It is important to cook the beans well. Drain the beans and reserve the water for later use.
Curry Paste or Masala:
Heat oil or ghee in a pan and add onions and saute them till they caramelized or golden browned. Add a tsp of salt to fasten the process. Keep on stirring the onions while sautéing them so that they don't get burnt. Add ginger and green chili paste and sauté for another 5 minutes on low flame.
Once done, add the tomato puree. Sauté the tomatoes until they become soft and pulpy. You will see oil on the sides of the tomatoes once they are ready. Add all the spice powders – coriander powder and garam masala.Stir and saute the whole mixture for about 2 minutes of low heat.
Add the reserved water from the beans to the pan and give this a good boil with the onion-tomato masala. Add the kidney beans and simmer this curry for 10-15 minutes on low flame until it thickens. Mash a few beans with the help of the back of the ladle. This will help thicken the gravy. Add salt to taste.
Serve hot with a bowl of basmati rice or rotis.
Canned kidney beans can also be used. Just make the curry paste first and then add the beans and water.
If you do not have a pressure cooker - first soak the rajma as usual for 8-9 hours. Drain them and rinse them with fresh water. Boil enough water in a big pot and add the rajma and salt. Cook covered for about 45 to 1 hour or more if required.