Rajma Masala

August 20, 2013mayurisjikoni
Blog post


Rajma Masala or simply known as Rajma is a popular North Indian curry dish which is usually enjoyed with rice. Red Kidney Beans, onion, tomato, garlic and spices makes this rajma comfort for so many. Besides rice it is also served with hot roti. But my family loves it with plain rice. Rajma masala is a healthy, filling and protein rich meal with rice or roti.

Evidently, cook Rajma Chawal for my son in law and he is the happiest person on Earth!


Don’t know what it is, but whenever I buy dried kidney beans, be it in India or Kenya, they never turn out soft on cooking. Yes, I soak them overnight, have also added a bit of baking soda, cooked them with endless number or pressure cooker whistles till I have turned deaf!

Because of my luck with dried kidney beans, I stopped buying them myself. When in Kenya I usually use the fresh kidney beans whenever in season or ask my house help to buy them for me. Whenever he buys them, they cook well.

Undoubtedly, in India so many recommended Kashmiri Rajma and still failed to cook them to the soft consistency. Basically, if the beans are too old, they do not cook well, even if you soak them in warm water overnight. Then, once I ordered them online from Big Basket and voilà they turned out perfect.


In fact, I remember I made some rajma for Nami’s friends(mostly from North India) in Bangalore. Usually, I get a lot of oohs and aahs and sooo delicious aunty for all my food preparations. However, rajma is a different story altogether. Actually, I was trying to compete with North Indian mums for whom making rajma is not a big deal.  Got praises for the other dishes but not a sound for rajma. Poor things! So when next time Nami insisted I make rajma, I told her ask your friend’s mum to make them!

And I kept on wondering why she would ask me to make rajma! It doesn’t feature as a common dish in our household. After years got to know why. Actually, it was for her then boyfriend, now my son in law!

As a matter of fact, Nami’s friend’s mum makes yummy rajma and whenever I would ask her how she made them… she would say “arre Mayuri, koi special tarika nahi , stir fry onions,garlic, ginger etc etc etc and there your rajma is ready. Tried explaining to her that my rajma are always hard but she refused to believe that!


  • When in Kenya, I freeze fresh kidney beans when in season and use those for all my recipes that need kidney beans. If I need to use the dry beans then I prefer to buy the Wairimu tiny red beans.
  •  In India, I buy them online only from Big Basket and that too the Kashmiri or Jammu rajma variety.
  • Whenever I make them in Canada, I simply open a can, drain the beans out, wash them in water and use them. I try and buy the small red beans as opposed to the giant ones. No ‘jhanjat’ of them remaining hard. I will have to look for the dried variety. My online Indian store does sell the Jammu variety but are so expensive.



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Specifically, I prepare a special rajma spice powder to add to my rajma masala. Ready made ones are available in any Indian Grocery Store but I find they hardly have any flavour.


  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Cardamom
  • Pepper Corns
  • Star Anise
  • Bay Leaf
  • Ginger Powder
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Asafoetida – omit if you want to make gluten free rajma masala. Or try and source pure hing which has no wheat flour added to it.



  • Red Kidney Beans – soak them overnight in enough warm water. Or use fresh kidney beans or canned ones.
  • Water – normal tap water. Warm water to soak the beans. Also need some to cook the beans.
  • Onion – peeled and finely chopped. Some you need to mince.
  • Garlic – peel and mince.
  • Fresh Ginger – peel and grate, make into a paste or cut into very thin strips.
  • Green Chillis – make a paste
  • Cumin Seeds – jeera, jiru. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
  • Carom Seeds – ajwain, ajmo. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
  • Turmeric Powder – haldi, hardar. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
  • Salt – add according to your taste.
  • Red Chilli Powder – add according to your taste. I don’t usually add as they is enough in the spice mixture. Easily available in all Indian Grocery Stores or online. I usually source mine from Big Basket in India or Singal’s in Montreal.
  • Rajma Masala Spice Powder – I make mine at home. Feel free to buy ready made if you wish.
  • Oil – use any of your choice. I like to use sunflower oil.
  • Ghee – I love adding ghee for the aroma and flavour. You can omit it if you want to make vegan rajma masala.
  • Fresh Cream – optional. Omit for a vegan version. Can add coconut cream instead.
  • Fresh Coriander – cilantro – chopped along with the tender stems.




Rajma Masala or simply known as Rajma is a popular North Indian curry dish which is usually enjoyed with rice. Healthy, filling and rich in protein, it is comfort food for so many.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Course Main Meal
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4



  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dry ginger powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder hot
  • tsp asafoetida


  • cups red kidney beans
  • 4 to 5 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 big onions to get 1½ cups finely chopped onions and ½ cup for mincing
  • 1 cup tomato puree fresh
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp carom seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1-1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp green chilli paste
  • 1 inch ginger peeled and cut into thin strips or 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream optional
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander chopped



  • Heat a small pan over low heat.
  • Add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and anise star. Roast it while stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Add cumin seeds and roast further for 2-3 minutes or till the seeds turn brownish.
  • Remove the spices into a plate and allow them to cool down completely.
  • Process the spices in a coffee mill or pound it with a pestle and mortar.
  • Add asafoetida, ginger powder and red chilli powder to the mixture and mix well.


  • Soak the beans overnight in warm water.
  • Next day drain out the stale water, wash the beans and put them in a pressure cooker with about 3 cups of water (from the measured amount) or till the beans are covered with water.
  • Add turmeric powder and cook the beans for 3 to 4 whistles or till done.
  • Chop the onions finely to get 1½ cups of it. Mince the remaining half cup.
  • Heat oil and ghee in a big pan over medium heat.
  • Add cumin and carom seeds. As soon as it turns light brown, add the chopped onions.
  • Stir fry the onions till they are soft and appear pink in colour.
  • Add the minced onion, ginger strips, garlic and chilli paste. Stir fry till it becomes light brown and the oil begins to separate from the mixture.
  • Add the spice powder and stir fry for a minute.
  • Add ½ cup water and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the tomato puree, salt and mix well. Cover the pan and let the tomato mixture cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Mash about ½ cup beans or lightly mash the whole mixture.
  • Add the beans to the tomato mixture. Add the remaining water.
  • Mix well and let the rajma simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remember to stir it occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Just before serving add the chopped coriander and fresh cream.
  • Serve with hot parathas, rotis or rice.


  • You may need about 2 cans of beans if you are not using the dry ones.
  • The consistency of the rajma curry base will depend on how you like it. Mine was not watery as we prefer it thick. Add more water for a lighter curry.
  • If you want to do an extra tempering (vaghar) for the top then heat some ghee in a small pan. Add red chilli powder and immediately pour it over the rajma masala. Do not stir.Serve.
  • Adjust the amount of spices according to your taste.
  • For those living in Kenya, I use the wairimu variety of red beans. In India, I prefer the Jammu/Kashmir Rajma.
  • Use ready rajma masala (spices) if available in your area. 
Keyword how to make rajma, rajma masala, red kidney bean curry



If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email mayuri.ajay.patel62@gmail.com
  • tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962





  • Jay

    August 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    nice presentation…
    Tasty Appetite

  • linsy patel

    August 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    yummy rajma. perfect with rice.

  • Arthy shama

    August 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Wow, rajma masala looks too yummy! And the spice combo used here is also too unique, thanks for linking by 🙂

  • Shobha Keshwani

    May 24, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    5 stars
    Rajma is our family favourite. It is really so delicious with rice. My hubby could eat this meal any day any time.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 25, 2022 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks Shobha, guess your husband is like my son in law. He can eat rajma chawal every day.

  • Seema Sriram

    May 24, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    5 stars
    The rajma masala thali looks so yummy. Rice and rajma is always my favorite combo, this thali tallies it all together.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 25, 2022 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you so much Seema.

  • Priya Vj

    May 25, 2022 at 9:18 am

    5 stars
    Rajma chawal is an eternal favorite and i love to have it hot hot with some papad as an accompaniment . I prefer the jammu or kashmiri variety as they cook perfectly.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 25, 2022 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you Priya, we too love it and that too hot.

  • Jayashree T.Rao

    May 26, 2022 at 3:22 am

    5 stars
    I have been planning to buy the Kashmir rajma and will soon order it. I have never seen the fresh ones here. The rajma masala looks flavoursome. I love it only with rotis but my son loves rajma chawal anytime.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 26, 2022 at 9:44 pm

      Jayashree, try the Kashmiri/Jammu type. They are smaller and if not old, will cook very well. In Kenya we get fresh ones in season. Kidney Beans is a staple in Kenya.

  • Kalyani

    May 28, 2022 at 1:23 am

    5 stars
    Nothing can beat rajma masala with the fresh homemade spice powder. the pics are just popping on the screen . very inviting!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 28, 2022 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you so much Kalyani.

  • Navdha

    October 25, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    5 stars
    My Mami just made this Kenyan Version of Rajma over Diwali and I had to come to your site and get the recipe! So yummie 🤘 thank you! They said they used to make this for the locals at various samaj events!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 26, 2022 at 3:02 am

      I am glad that you all enjoyed the Maharage Ya Nazi/ Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk over Diwali. Yes long time back when most samaj helpers didn’t like our Indian food as they found it too spicy, maharage or kidney beans and ugali is what was prepared for them. However, nowadays most of them like our Indian food as they also tend to add spices in their daily food. So most times they enjoy the Indian food.

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