Rajma (red beans)

Preparation time: 20-30 minutes (excluding soaking time)

Cooking time: 1 hour, minimum. More likely 2. Depends how long the beans take to boil (at least 40 minutes).

I love rajma! πŸ™‚ It’s best eaten with rice and yogurt. I advise waking up and setting the beans to boil all morning while you are getting ready for the day, or something like that. Also, best cooked on a weekend.

You need: 1 cup rajma (red kidney beans); 2 large tomatoes; 1 large onion; 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp rajma masala or garam masala, 1 heaped tsp red chili powder (or not, if you can’t take the spice); salt to taste, cilantro (dhania) for garnishing; 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera); 1-2 bay leaves; 1-2 dried red chilies; 1 heaped tsp paprika (this is for color).

How to: Soak the rajma overnight or 6-10 hours. If you soak it in the day, try to change the water a couple of times. Drain and rinse well. Add 1 tsp salt and lots of water and boil until tender. Make sure the water doesn’t evaporate as you’re boiling it. Once it’s cooked, retain about 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and throw the rest away.

Meanwhile, puree the onion and tomatoes – separately! – in a food processor (or chop them really, really, fine, but pureeing works best).

Heat 2-3 tbsp oil. Add the cumin, bay leaves, and red chilies. When it starts sizzling add the onion paste. Stir well and let it cook.

It’s critical that the onion is fully cooked. If it smells raw and tastes raw, keep cooking. Stir now and again; don’t let it burn.

Add the ginger paste when the onion is cooked and stir.

Add the tomato puree. Mix well. Add salt and the remaining spices. Cover. This is really important – this tends to splatter everywhere while cooking. Lower the heat (to “medium”, or “simmer” if you’re in India). Stir now and again, taking care not to get splashed, and let it cook for 5-10 minutes.

Add the rajma and cooking water. Mix well. Cover again, and let it cook for another 5-7 minutes. Garnish with cilantro, and eat over rice with yogurt.

Optional: Boiled potato. Boil a potato, but don’t let it get mushy. Add it with the pureed tomato. If you let it get mushy, it will crumble with the added cooking, so undercook it just a little when you boil it.


2 thoughts on “Rajma (red beans)

  1. I was wondering if there is a significant difference in using red beans vs. red kidney beans? My mother-in-law’s rajma tastes smoother and creamier than what I make. The skins of the kidney beans don’t seem to ever become soft like hers. The skin of red beans is more like a pinto or northern white bean, soft and creamy. Does this make sense?

    • I’m actually not sure of the difference. Next time I go to the grocery I’ll take a look. In any case, you could just try both and see which one you prefer πŸ™‚ In India, you get two kinds of rajma, as far as I know, the second being Kashmiri rajma. That’s the one I always used in India, but I don’t see it as often here.

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