Kidney Bean Curry ( Rajma )

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

Plump kidney beans simmered in a spicy tomato based gravy is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this earthy legume. Essentially an Indian version of chili that so many of us in the Western world enjoy, there are endless versions of this curry enjoyed throughout India. Rather easy to cook up, you will eagerly be awaiting dinner as the spicy aroma fills the kitchen. Rajma is particularly popular in North India but also enjoyed in South India as well with multiple variations.

This is a substantial dish that goes well with rice or any Indian flatbread of your choosing and side vegetable dish - a perfect meal for a cold winter day but comforting and enjoyable anytime of the year.

Note: If you want to make this dish vegan friendly, omit the ghee and use coconut milk instead of yogurt.

Kidney Bean Curry ( Rajma )Kidney Bean Curry ( Rajma )
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 11, 2012

A rich, hearty and spicy red kidney bean curry — like an Indian-spiced pot of chili

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

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  • 1 1/4 cups dried kidney beans
  • 4 to 5 black cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or a combination of oil and butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 3 fresh chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • large handful fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (reserve a bit for garnish)
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt, whisked or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala + extra for garnish
  • Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma)

    Rinse the kidney beans under cold running water and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain the beans and transfer them to a large saucepan along with 4 1/2 cups of water, cardamom pods, cinnamon and turmeric. Bring to a boil, the reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not drain.

  • While the beans are cooking prepare the sauce. Heat the ghee or oil and butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until the mustard seeds begin to turn grey and splutter and pop. Reduce the heat to medium and add the ginger, garlic and hot chilies to the pan. Stir and fry for a minute or so. Now add the asafetida and cayenne and stir for a few seconds. Time for the tomatoes and salt to be added to the pan, along with the fresh parsley or cilantro. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

  • Gradually stir in the yogurt, then toss in the ground coriander, fenugreek leaves, ground cumin and garam masala. Continue to cook and stir for another minute or two.

  • Add the sauce to the cooked beans and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, taking care to stir occasionally. If you want a watery version of this dish, add more water during the simmering process. Transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls and garnish with a bit of parsley or cilantro, sprinkle with a bit of garam masala and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

kidney bean curry

Other kidney bean curries you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chickpeas, Kidney Beans and Lentils with a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Curried Red Kidney Beans with Paneer Cheese
Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce
Punjabi Rajma


Claire said...

This looks fantastic, Lisa. I know I would love this with all the spices you've used. Thanks for sending this to My Legume Love Affair!

Priya Suresh said...

Nutritious curry,would love to have with some rotis.

lubnakarim06 said...

Spicy and yummy....perfect for those wintery nights....

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Your glossary is such a good idea. Oh and lovely curry too!