Mamta's Kitchen

Kidney Bean Curry Traditional Method

Rajma Rasedar

Mamta Gupta


This very popular, north Indian/Punjabi vegetarian dish is almost a compulsory part of a menu on special occasions in Punjab. It is so simple to make and yet quite delicious, an excellent source of proteins for the vegetarians. Those of you who live in the West, can use tinned, boiled kidney beans in brine, to save time and to make it a quick dish to prepare. It is traditionally served with plain, boiled Basmati rice, as part of a combination referred to as Rajma-Chaval. Left-over Rajma always tastes much better next day and can be frozen in portions, for re-heating later, so cook extra!

Note: to make this dish extra special, stir in a tablespoon of single cream to the Rajma after you have transferred it to a serving bowl and give it a little swirl.

This dish can be made with Adzuki beans as well.

Serves 6-8

Edited August 2023


  • For boiling kidney beans

  • 300 gm. dry kidney beans or Rajma

  • One large or two medium onions (225-250 gm.), peeled

  • 3-4 cloves or laung/lavang)

  • 2-3 large cardamoms or badi illaichi

  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon or dalchini

  • 2 bay leaves or tej-patta

  • 5-6 whole black peppers or kali mirch

  • 1 tbsp. oil

  • For making Curry Gravy:

  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil

  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds or jeera

  • A good pinch of hing or asafoetida

  • 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)

  • 1 inch square piece of ginger, peeled

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 2-3 medium tomatoes (175-200 gm.), washed and chopped or 200 gm. tinned, peeled tomatoes

  • 1 level tsp. turmeric or huldi

  • 1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder or dhania

  • 1 tsp. cumin powder

  • 1/2 tsp. chill powder (mirch), adjust to taste

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/4 tsp. Garam Masala

  • 2-3 cups water (adjust to your requirement)

  • A small bunch of coriander leaves


  1. If using uncooked kidney beans, clean, wash & soak them overnight in water, minimum 5-6 hours. They need to be hydrated fully to cook nicely.

  2. Place kidney beans, whole spices and 1 tbsp. oil in a pressure cooker and cook under full pressure for about 15 minutes, may take longer. Different varieties take different time to soften. If you do not have a pressure cooker, boil briskly, until tender and soft. This may take an hour or even longer. Cool and open pressure cooker.

  3. If using tinned kidney beans, use them straight from the tin. Tinned kidney beans can be a little sweet, hence the need to drain and rinse.

  4. Grind onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor, all together or chop finely.

  5. Measure all ground spices and keep aside in a bowl, keeping garam masala separate.

  6. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan.

  7. Add cumin seeds and asfoetida, wait until they crackle/splutter.

  8. Add onions, garlic and ginger mix and fry until onions are nicely golden brown.

  9. Add tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt.

  10. Fry until oil begins to separate at the edges.

  11. Add to the boiled kidney beans and stir for a minute or two.

  12. Add water, if required. The amount depends upon how thick you want the gravy to be.

  13. Let the beans boil briskly for a few minutes. You can cook under pressure for 1 minute instead.

  14. Taste and adjust salt, chilli etc.

  15. Crush a few kidney beans with a spatula, to give it a thicker, mushy looking gravy.

  16. Add garam masala, half the coriander leaves & mix. Turn heat off.

  17. Close the lid to allow the flavour to infuse.

  18. Place in serving bowl & garnish with the rest of coriander leaves.

  19. Serve hot with Tandoori Roti or Chapatti and Boiled Rice.

  20. Leftover curry can be cooked with basmati rice, to make a kidney bean pulao/pilaf.


  • Do not cook kidney beans in a slow cooker. If you have to, boil briskly in a pan for 10-15 minutes. Then transfer to a slow cooker. Red kidney beans contain high levels of a toxin Phytohaemagglutinin. Unless boiled briskly or pressure cooked, they will not reach a high enough temperature for a long enough period (minimum 10 minutes) to destroy phytohaemagglutinin.

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