Goodness In A Pot: Rajma

Last week was a tough week.

A nail-biter of a deadline at work left me with little to no time to brood about mother’s departure. I obsessed about the Summer of Death. And tried hard not to think of The Boy happily squandering our life savings at The Bellagio, egged on by a bevy of well-endowed airheads.

What I needed was some comfort. Preferably on my dinner plate. And what better dish than the heartwarming rajma, a hearty preparation of red kidney beans stewed in a mouthwatering masala of tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and a mix of spices.

Rajma has been one of my favorites since childhood, where the sight and smell of it was known to send my sister and I into feeding frenzies – be it morning or midnight. A very moreish dish, it can be made as mild or spicy as you would like, and tastes even better the day after it is made. Kidney beans come in two colors, reddish and pinkish. I tend to use the former and my sister swears by the latter, but they both taste equally good.

I also add a dash of rajma masala to give this dish an authentic touch. This is optional, since the other spices do most of the work for you, but rajma masala is easily available in any Indian grocery should you need it.


1 1/2 cups or 2 small cans red kidney beans (rajma)
1 large onion
4 tomatoes
2 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tbsp rajma masala
5 tbsp oil
Fistful of fresh coriander leaves
Salt to taste

Soak the rajma overnight in 4 cups of water. Pressure cook for 15 minutes until soft, but not mushy. If using cooked canned beans, make sure to wash them thoroughly in a colander.

Coarsely chop onions and tomatoes. Puree separately in a blender.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot. Add ginger and garlic pastes. Fry gently for about 5 minutes, and add onion puree. Continue frying until you get an aroma, and the onion doesn’t smell raw anymore (about 10 minutes). Add the tomato puree. Stir vigorously. After five minutes, add cooked rajma, salt and a cup of water. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a seasoning spoon or a small saucepan. Once hot, add all the spice powders. Let the mixture sizzle for 30 seconds, stirring continuously so the spices don’t blacken and burn. Add this masala to the pot and stir to incorporate all the spices into the stew. Let it simmer for five minutes.

Garnish with fresh, chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Goes best with steamed white rice or rotis and coarsely chopped red onions and cucumbers dusted with salt and lime juice.

Serves 4.


  1. Nice recipe. I personally prefer the lighter colored kidney beans, but will take rajma in any form.
    And, methinks you need a vacation - complete with well-endowed airheaded males! That will give The Boy something to sulk about!
    Hope the Youngling is happy in school.

  2. and let the belly deal with the after-effects... I have a quicker version of this. I toss the onions and tomatoes into the blender. Fry the puree in oil and then add the ginger garlic paste. Consumes less oil.


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