Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)

Rajma is an North Indian classic made with plump red kidney beans and aromatic spices simmered in a rich tomato sauce. For those unfamiliar with the dish, a comparison point would be what the Western world refers to as chili. The key to the dish is to create a thick and creamy sauce that is slowly simmered down in stages to allow the spices to blend and the sauce to thicken into a creamy gravy. Here I've used tomato paste and some shredded paneer cheese for a slightly more elaborate preparation. The complexity of this dish is in the taste experience alone, as the preparation is a simple pleasure.

This rich and gritty kidney bean curry is adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, an extensive and creative collection of Indian creations that are straightforward to follow and easily changed to suit the preferences of the cook. This collection is not vegetarian, but even if you took out the meat and seafood recipes, you would still have a fat cookbook with lots of inviting vegetarian recipes. This book comes highly recommended from my kitchen and a special spot is reserved for this informative treasure trove of recipes on my book shelf.

 Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce (Rajma) Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce (Rajma)
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 22, 2009

Red kidney beans simmered in a rich and creamy Indian-spiced sauce with shredded paneer cheese

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

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  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 1 6-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3 fresh green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 5 1/2 oz (160 mL) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup paneer cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • small handful of dried curry leaves
  • Rinse the kidney beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, and add to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and cook for 15 seconds. Add the onion and stir and fry for a few minutes. Now add the garlic, chilies and ginger and stir and fry for another minute or so.

  • Add the ground spices and salt, stir, and add 1/2 cup of water, along with the tomato paste. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the water is evaporated. Stir in another 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer until the water evaporates again, stirring occasionally. Repeat one or more times until you have a nice, thick red sauce.

  • Stir in the kidney beans, along with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

  • Add the cream, garam masala and shredded paneer, and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the curry leaves and the cilantro, reserving a bit for garnishing if desired. Remove the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick pieces before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Shredded Paneer (Rajma)

Other Indian rajma (red kidney bean) dishes you may enjoy:
Mint and Potato Rajma
Curried Red Kidney Beans with Paneer Cheese
Rajma with Sauted Chard


A_and_N said...

Raajma (kidney beans) looks great and I loved the addition of grated paneer :) We've tried with grated mozzarella before just for the heck of it :)

sunita said...

Yummy! And I love your new header :-)

Thistlemoon said...

Oh boy, does that look good or what???I am so drooling over this dish Lisa - the colors and the flavors!

Soma said...

Your header looks really good!

& the rajma looks awesome. My hubby just loves rajma, so i make it pretty often. always looking for new ways to do it.

Usha said...

Your new header looks really cool!

Loved the red kidney beans with paneer in it, I am sure it tasted awesome with the blend of spices used in it ......

test it comm said...

Kidney beans and paneer sounds good!

Johanna GGG said...

I love your use of paneer - I would like to use it more so like seeing how you do it - will be bookmarking this recipe

by the way - love your new photos on your banner

Susan from Food Blogga said...

The aroma in your kitchen must have been tantalizing!

Red Chillies said...

I loved the rajma idea but best of all loved the shredded paneer idea. I am not fond of paneer, but shredding it will definitely give it a great taste.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

That looks really delicious Lisa! I would love that with a piece of chunky bread to dip in, yum!

I too like your new banner! Very nice :)

Chutneytales said...

Slurp!The rajma curry is perfect..I love it with boiled rice.Nice click!

FewMinute Wonders said...

A nice touch to the rajma with paneer.Paneer is something my daughter loves so I make it a lot.SO I am sure to make this one soon.

TBC said...

I made your quick and easy fudgy brownies. Turned out really well. Thanks so much for the recipe.:D

Anonymous said...

The idea of Rajma with shredded paneer itself make me hungry..great click !!

Deepthi Shankar said...

loved the idea of shredded paneer ,, next time, trying this for sure

Astra Libris said...

Oooh, so gorgeous and cozy and comforting!

Juliana said...

This recipe looks great and sounds very tasty. Love all the spices in it!

eatme_delicious said...

Ooo this sounds really good and I have all of the ingredients. Well I don't have kidney beans but I do have pink beans. Do you think it's worth it to seek out black cardamom or can I just use green cardamom?

Lisa Turner said...


If you can find the black cardamom without too much trouble, I'd use that, otherwise, substituting green cardamom would be fine.

Unknown said...

Wow here is one more delicious recipe looks so tempting. And that's so sweet of you and thank you so much for the quick and lovely comment. i am on the way to leave a comment in your blog, that i tried your recipe and we just loved it.Thank you so much for this aromatic and yummy recipe.

Suzer said...

Sounds amazing; I'm a sucker for paneer.

Kara said...

Looks good! Should go great with whole wheat tortillas

Red Chillies said...

Lisa, I made this yesterday and it was a hit. Thanks for the great recipe.

Lisa Turner said...

Glad you enjoyed the dish Red Chillies!

Anonymous said...

this looks so good. Just wondering if you make your paneer or buy it. If you buy it where do you get it? Im in London too.

Lisa Turner said...

I have been meaning to make my own paneer, but I haven't yet, though I understand it is easy to do. I buy my paneer at India Spice Centre, located at 611 Wonderland Road.

basil said...

Thanks again for this recipe. I made it tonight and it was awesome. I substituted Swiss for the paneer and it blended nicely.

basil said...

Made it again, this time with cheddar fresh tomatoes - sublime once again.

Anonymous said...

Made this last nite for dinner and I loved it ! It turned out great ! The only change I made was I only used 1.5Tbsp of tomato paste and used a whole tomato instead and i didnt have paneer so we just had rajma ! Delicious !