Punjabi Rajma (Kidney Beans Curry)

Rajma-Chawal is a combination to-die-for. The best Rajma (Kidney Beans) and Chawal (Rice) can be had at obscure dhabas alongside the highways all over North India where the truck drivers eat. Most Punjabi households will agree that rajma is definitely a staple comfort food. Try this Rajma recipe with rice, some raita or just plain yogurt.


Kidney Beans – 1 cup
Water – 4 cups
Salt – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Green Chili – to taste (optional)
Oil – 2 tbsp
Onions – 2 medium, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tsp, minced
Garlic – 1 tsp, minced
Tomatoes – 2 cups, puree
Salt – to taste
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Chaat Masala – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Cilantro – for garnishing, finely chopped


1. Wash and soak the Kidney Beans in 4 cups of water overnight.
2. Put the Rajma in a pressure cooker, along with the water that you soaked it in.
3. Turn the flame on high and add in the Turmeric Powder, Some Salt and Green Chili.
4. Cooking time in the Pressure Cooker – 3 whistles, lower flame and cook for another 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a medium size pan on medium heat, add in the Oil.
6. Allow it to heat up and add in the Onions.
7. Add in a little Salt and cook till the moisture evaporates from the Onions. Stir frequently.
8. Add in the Ginger and Garlic, mix well and cook till the Onions start to brown.
9. Add in the Tomato Puree. Mix again.
10.Cook till the oil starts to separate. Keep an eye on it and keep stirring frequently.
11.Add in Coriander Powder, Chaat Masala & Garam Masala.
12.Add in a little water (about 1/4 cup) to help mix in the dry spices and to prevent it from burning.
13.Cook for a couple of minutes.
14.Open the Pressure Cooker once the pressure has gone and add in the Rajma to the masala.
15. Make sure Rajma (kidney beans) is well cooked and should have opened up a bit.
16. Mix well and allow it to come to a boil again.
17. Add in some of the fresh Cilantro leaves and keep some for garnishing.
18. Serve over hot rice on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Serves 4.


Some key points to making it a successful Rajma experience-
-soak rajma overnight
-every cooker is different, so know your cooker. If it did not cook well, put the lid back on and cook it some more.
-believe it or not altitude makes a difference in cooking time.
-if you want a smooth curry/gravy, just blend the onions and tomatoes very well (we love texture in the food so…)

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How to make the best rajma chawal at home, dhaba style rajma masala, restaurant style rajma curry recipe, punjabi vegetarian vegan recipes, Indian style kidney beans curry.

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106 thoughts on “Punjabi Rajma (Kidney Beans Curry)

  1. I love your recipes. Can tomato sauce be used instead of tomato purée as that is what I have at home. Thanks for all your yummy recipes

  2. This recipe was absolutely delicious! My pressure cooker doesn’t whistle, but the directions say cook for 3 minutes. I did simmer it for an extra 30 mins, which was maybe a little much, so next time I will decrease that to 15 minutes. Regardless, I loved this dish!

  3. I try this Rajma, and it was so delicious it’s now one of my favorites, Ladies when are you going to do a video on making Rogan Josh, please do.

  4. I have been trying for a while now to find a good curry recipe for beans…but it just doesn’t come out good like in the restaurants…until I found this recipe! I just made it for dinner tonight and although I am not familiar with the true authentic taste of this dish, I must say I really enjoyed it with a side of eggplants :). Oh and I also had to leave out the chaat masala as I didn’t have that on hand and also quadrupled the recipes and still enjoyed it :). I just want to thank you ladies for such a wonderful recipe!


  5. i tried preparing rajma with dry seeds and read online to soak for 8 hrs or put it in a cooker , i kept it in cooker i waited for 8 whistles till it is not boiled. so how many whistles need to rajma to boil?

    1. Hi Srinivas,

      Rajma must be soaked for at least 6 to 8 hours BEFORE pressure cooking. I have never tried pressure cooking rajma without soaking.

    1. Hi Gita,

      Yes, you can freeze rajma. Either move it to the fridge the night before to defrost or use the defrost button on your microwave. Once defrosted, you can transfer it to a regular pot and heat it on the stove or heat it in the microwave it self.

  6. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    I have a serious question regarding the type of rajma beans to use. In India (Punjab), my mother used to make rajma with the beans that look like borlotti beans that you get here in Australia (or US for that matter). I have grown up on those rajma and always loved them. However, here in Australia, I have been buying other beans. Lately, I have been using the maroon coloured beans (dark red). I must say that I have been disappointed with my rajma. I find that maroon coloured beans are almost a little bitter in taste, remain stiff and are not creamy at all. They just don’t blend with the gravy. The gravy was beautiful but the beans were not tasty. So they kind of kill the rajma.

    Please suggest which beans I should use for the best taste.

    1. Hi Guddi,

      Unfortunately, we don’t get a choice in the variety of kidney beans available here in the US. The Indian store carries only the maroon dark red type. Is it possible that maybe the beans you got were old? The best way to get the creamy texture is to pressure cook them for about 2 whistles and reduce the flame to a simmer and continue cooking for about 45 mins.

      1. Hi Hetel,

        I made the last rajma with borlotti beans. I liked rajma better with borlotti beans, though my husband prefers the red beans. I don’t think the red beans that I use are old. I will try and buy the red beans from a different place next time and see if that makes a difference. Your idea of adding chaat masala is great. I did not have chaat masala, so added dahi wada masala. It gave a ‘zing’ to the rajma 🙂

  7. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    I’ve tried out this and many of your other recipes and they always turn out great which has given me a lot of confidence in cooking 🙂 The time-saving tips in most of your recipes are really useful. Thank you and keep up the excellent work!

  8. Hetal and Anuja,

    I’m Cajun. Having tried this recipe a while back I think I like Rajma Chawal even more than Cajun Red Beans and Rice!! My pressure cooker is aluminum, doesn’t whistle, and apparently the last time I moved I hid it from myself. I ended up using a crock pot for most of the cooking. The Rajma took about four hours on high. I ordered a pressure cooker today that looks just like the one in this video, except the pressure release valve is all stainless. I’m looking forward to giving it a workout with many of your recipes.

    1. Speaking of pressure cookers, I forgot to ask a question in my initial post. While searching for info on whistling pressure cookers on the ‘net I came across a site that said one isn’t supposed to count the first whistle. But that one site was the only place I’ve seen that mentioned, and I haven’t been able to find that site again. To y’all start counting at the first or second whistle?

      1. Hi Kevin,

        We start counting on the very first whistle. When cooking rice in a pressure cooker, the first whistle is all you need to hear.

    2. Hi Kevin,

      Yes, pressure cookers are life savers for us! Just a bit of caution about cooking Rajma in a crock pot. Some people say that kidney beans release some type of toxin if not cooked in a certain way and are not a good choice for cooking in a crock pot. But…guess you have your new pressure cooker by now to play with :). Good luck!

  9. Yummy …tasted the best I ever had! Only one thing by mistake I added the tinned Rajma directly including the water from the tin and did not rinse the beans. The curry looked and tasted good….so I ate this. It is now 2 days and no side effects. Is it bad? Since the texture of the curry turned out nice and thick and creamy I wanted to ask why throw the water from the tin and rinse too? Another thing for pureed tomato I took a shortcut – just grinded 3 tomato with water. On whole it was just …WOW!!

    1. Hi Sarika,

      Glad you enjoyed the Rajma. The liquid in the canned kidney beans isn’t necessarily bad for you but it makes the texture a bit gooey. Also, some people believe that the liquid is gassy.

  10. Hi Anuja and Hetal

    Am married and residing in Ireland with my husband.. so some items are not available, so guide me is there anything alternative masala can we include or exclude??? because am a new learner i keep getting confused.. any video pls give alternative..as i said before am learning cooking by watching only ur site..

    thanks a million
    to both of u…

    1. Hi Caroline,

      The basic masalas are turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Garam masala can be substituted with whole cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom (can grind at home). Chaat masala has a lot of different salts and spices so it will be hard to substitute. You can try black salt (if you find it) or dry mango powder (amchur).

  11. Hi Anuja and Hetal..

    Am so happy am learning cooking thru your website.
    my husband is very happy and delighted with my cooking..
    I was watching this recipe of kidney beans.. how long should it soak ??? 5 hours or 6 hour what is the specific duration. because if i soak in the morning will it be fine ??

    1. Hi Caroline,

      The larger beans like kidney or garbanzo takes approximately 6-8 hours of soaking time (longer is okay too, it will not spoil them).

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