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North Indian rajma masala

North Indian rajma masala

  • Author: Panaceas Pantry
  • Prep Time: 20 mins plus soaking
  • Cook Time: 30 mins plus time to cook beans
  • Total Time: 28 minute
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Mains
  • Cuisine: North Indian


This authentic North Indian rajma masala is brought to by chef Smriti Iyer. It is the most deliciously spiced and flavoursome kidney bean masala, you will love it.


2 cups dried Rajma (kidney beans)
Water to Soak
To cook Rajma
5 cups water
1 Bay leaf
1 Cinnamon stick (small)
2 Badi Elaichi (Black Cardamom)
1.5 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
 1/2 tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
2 tbsp (3-4 cloves) Chopped Garlic
1 Tbsp Minced Ginger
1 large (1 cup) Chopped Onion
4 Tomatoes
1 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder (mild Chili Powder)
2 tsp Coriander Seed Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric


Cook the rajma (beans)

  1. Soak Rajma overnight (or 7-8 hours) in plenty of water. This will soften the skin and Plump up the Bean, makes it easier to cook.
  2. Strain the soaking water off.
  3. In a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients and cook for 6-7 whistles. Or until cooked through.
    If you don’t have a pressure cooker, add it to a Dutch oven and cook covered on medium high, till the Beans are tender and squishy.
    If you’re using canned Rajma, add the above mentioned spices to the oil in the following steps.

To make the masala 

  1.  In a pan over medium high heat, add oil (Sunflower / Peanut / Safflower / Any neutral oil. DO NOT USE Coconut or Mustard or Olive OIL – These add too strong). Let it heat up.
  2. Add Cumin, Carom and let it splutter a bit. Till you hear popping sounds. This will take only 4-5 secs if the oil is hot.
  3. Add Ginger, Garlic and saute until fragrant (1-2 mins.)
  4.  Add Chopped Onion and cook until translucent. It shouldn’t change colour (2-3 mins.)
  5. If using fresh Tomatoes, add them Chopped into the pan. If using canned, add them as is.
  6. Add Salt, Kashmiri Chili Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric. Mix well and cook. If using fresh Tomatoes, cook for 5-6 minutes), if using canned, cook for 2-3 minutes until the ‘masala’ thickens.
  7. Blend this into a smooth puree.
  8. In the same pan, add Oil, heat it up.
  9. Add Green Chili (you can leave this out or reduce it if you don’t want the heat) and Garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  10. Add the Masala, Rajma + water,
    Cook covered for 3-4 minutes until it thickens.
  11. Mash 1/3 of it with a masher / back of a spatula. This will make the whole thing naturally Creamy from the starches of Rajma.
  12. Add Garam Masala, cook for 10 secs, and then turn off the heat.
    Garam Masala is a NORTH INDIAN Spice blend which is made of roasted Spices. Since it is already roasted, cooking it for too long will reduce the flavour and aroma. This is why we add it at the very end.
  13. Add Lemon Juice and mix well. This is NOT a traditional ingredient, I add it to balance the Spices.
  14. Add Chopped fresh Coriander. Serve hot.


This will thicken as it rests, so you can add some water and heat it again. It will come back to the same consistency before serving.
The consistency of Rajma Masala is kept slightly runny (more water) if served with Rice or Millets. So that it mixes well and doesn’t appear ‘dry’.
The consistency is kept slightly thicker if served with Roti or Naan, so that it sticks to the breads better.