313. Rajma masala

August 20, 2013mayurisjikoni

I am getting there

 My eldest son had been asking for rajma since he got here. Basically, I was avoiding making them as usually the way I cook them, it does not turn out nice. I remember I made some rajma for Nami’s friends(mostly from North India) in Bangalore and I hardly got any reviews, comments or praises. Here I was trying to compete with North Indian mums for whom making rajma is not a big deal. Nami’s friend’s mum makes yummy rajma and whenever I would ask her how she made them… she would say arre Mayuri, there is nothing special about making them, stir fry onions,garlic, ginger etc etc etc and there your rajma is ready. 
 So this time, since my son was craving for them, I thought that this dish required some research before I made them and I am so glad I did so. I took tips from most of the recipes I read and now I have a recipe that my family appreciates. Excuse the poor quality of the photo as I took it when the rajma were steaming hot and thus the steam made it appear blurry. Next time I make rajma masala I will take a better photo. So before I lose the recipe ( I have lost one which  I was suppose to blog), I thought I must blog this one.


Serves 4 to 6

Spice mixture:
½ inch cinnamon stick (taj)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
4 cloves (lavin)
2 cardamoms (elachi)
8 peppercorns
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ghee
½ tsp dry ginger powder
½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)

For the Rajma:
1½ cups red kidney beans (rajma)
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 fresh tomato puree
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain, ajmo)
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips or 2 tbsp ginger paste
3 tbsp fresh cream (optional)
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Preparation of the spice powder:

  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan over low heat.
  2. Add to it peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamom, bay leaf and anise star. Roast it while stirring constantly for 2 to 3 mins or till the cumin turns brown. Let the mixture cool.
  3. Process the spices in a coffee mill or pound it with a pestle and mortar.
  4. Add asafoetida, ginger powder and red chilli powder to the mixture and mix well.
Preparation of the Rajma Masala:
  1. Soak the beans overnight in warm water.
  2. 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.
  3. Add turmeric powder and cook the beans for 3 to 4 whistles or till done. 
  4. Chop the onions finely to get 1½ cups of it. Mince the remaining half cup.
  5. Heat oil and ghee in a big pan over medium heat.
  6. Add cumin and carom seeds. As soon as it turns light brown, add the chopped onions.
  7. Stir fry the onions till they are soft and appear pink in colour.
  8. 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.
  9. Add the spice powder and stir fry for a minute.
  10. Add ½ cup water and mix thoroughly. 
  11. Add the tomato puree, salt and mix well. Cover the pan and let the tomato mixture cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Mash about ½ cup beans or lightly mash the whole mixture.
  13. 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.
  14. Just before serving add the chopped coriander and fresh cream.
  15. Serve with hot parathas, rotis or rice.
  • You may need about 3 cans of beans if you are not using the dry ones.
  • The consistency of the rajma will depend on how you like it. Mine was not watery.
  • 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. 
  • Use ready rajma masala (spices) if available in your area. 

You may want to check out the following:

dal makhani
chickpea curry

moong dal




  • 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 🙂

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