Rajma Chawal (Rice and Kidney bean curry)

15 Aug

My north Indian friends introduced me to the real Rajma Chawal and I am so hooked on to it. It’s a favorite comfort food for many! With proteins packed in the red kidney beans, it’s a healthy way to get children and adults to like it. There are only a few places where you can get the authentic Rajma Chawal. Otherwise everyone else has their own version of Rajma Chawal. Obviously if you visit a North Indian home, you will have one of the best home cooked Rajma Chawal. This is one of the few vegetarian dishes that I absolutely adore. Eating the entire cooked rajma the next day, instead of eating the same day you cooked it, with fresh steamed rice is like you are in a mini heaven of your own! Enough of talking, let’s get to it.

Tip: Soaking twice and rinsing and draining the beans several times helps reduce the gas that is built up due to the complex sugar in the beans ( One of my friends who is a nurse told me once and its true, my tummy hardly bloats up while eating beans).


All you need:

  1. 1 cup Rajma or red kidney beans (soak overnight in about 4 cups of water, if possible drain the water once and soak in fresh water again before sleeping)
  2. Water 4 cups
  3. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  4. 2 medium sized onions finely chopped
  5. 1 large tomato pureed
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 2 black cardamoms
  8. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  11. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  12. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  13. Salt as required
  14. 3 tbsp Oil
  15. 1/2 tsp kasoori methior dried fenugreek leaves (if available, you can get this in any Indian store)
  16. For garnishing you can add cilantro or lime wedge and sliced onion.

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Wash and drain the soaked rajma again.
  2. Cook the rajma in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, salt, whole masala that is bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom , most Indians use pressure cooker, you can use your own vessel to cook the beans till they are soft and fully cooked. It may take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t overcook them till they are mushy or it will end up looking like a dal instead of a curry!
  3. Once cooked, reserve the liquid, don’t throw it away. Drain the liquid in a separate bowl. You can remove the bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom if you wish at this point, I like to leave it all in there.
  4. Now, heat oil in a saucepan or kadhai on medium heat. Add the onions and fry them till they change color, you can even fry them till they are golden brown, but I prefer to fry them till they are transparent to pink.
  5. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears or till 30-45 seconds. Add the pureed tomato.
  6. Add all the spices one by one, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder and fry all the spices till they are well combined.
  7. Add the rajma/cooked beans and combine well with the mixture followed by the reserved liquid or the stock.
  8. Toss in the garam masala powder and kasoori methi(if available). Mix well. Check seasoning.
  9. Bring the curry to a good boil and simmer it for around 10 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro or lemon wedge and sliced onion.
  11. Serve hot with steamed white rice or chapati(Indian flatbread).

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