Rajma chawal is a popular Indian masala curry made with kidney beans and served with rice. Make this rajma recipe for a warm meal in just 40 minutes!
Curries are one of my favorite comfort food meals to make and to eat, especially as the weather turns cooler.
Technically, a curry is just a well seasoned stew, and who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of stew to warm up from the cold with?
As this rajma recipe proves, even meatless meals can be hearty and filling! My original bean curry recipe included lamb back in 2014, when it was first published on my other food site, Kevin is Cooking.
The lamb has been removed from the recipe, but red kidney beans are packed with enough fiber to make the dish hearty.
Cuisine: Indian / Asian
Traveling to India offers the opportunity to experience the flavors of plenty of different Indian masala curry dishes, and of course, there are popular curries made without a masala seasoning as well.
Some of my favorite Indian curry recipes are chickpea masala and mango chicken. And then there’s everyone’s favorite, the Punjabi butter chicken recipe.
rajma masala, red rajma, rajmah, bean curry, kidney bean curry
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
A vegetarian Indian masala curry of kidney beans (or other rajma beans) simmered with tomatoes and served with or over white rice.
What is rajma?
The Indian word rajma in English means red beans, and the word chawal in English means with rice.
Rajma masala is an Indian curry, but it’s most popular in the northern states of India, where it’s an integral part of their diet.
Despite being a vegetarian dish, rajma chawal is actually quite rich and hearty. The tomato-based gravy gives it a pleasing, stew-like consistency.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Red beans– Although there are several varieties of red beans available, either light or dark red kidney beans are the most commonly used for rajma masala curry.
You’re welcome to cook dried kidney beans from scratch if you’d like, but to keep the recipe quicker and easier to make, I use canned dark red kidney beans.
If cooking dry beans from scratch, be sure to reserve a cup of the cooking liquid to use later in the recipe.
- Rice– This ingredient isn’t a part of the curry recipe itself, but by definition, rajma chawal is a bean curry with rice.
Because the rice is cooked separately, any variety of rice could be used. I typically use either Basmati or Jasmine.
- Garam masala– There are at least 8 different masala powders used in Indian cuisine.
I use chana masala powder to make an Instant Pot curry that’s out of this world delicious. For this dish though, I prefer to use my garam masala recipe.
You can certainly use a premade garam masala spice blend if you’d like. Personally, I find that the flavor of homemade spice blends is much fresher.
Making rajma chawal
- Make the curry paste.
The first step in this recipe is creating a paste to thicken the curry with. This curry paste is a blend of white onion, serrano chiles and water.
Either a blender or small food processor is perfect for making the puree. It will be very loose but after mixing it with ghee and cooking for a few minutes, it thickens up and will have a paste-like consistency.
- Add ghee and cook to reduce.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer.
The kidney beans, tomato passata, some ginger and garlic, and plenty of delicious spices go into the pot with the thick rajma paste.
Turn down the heat and let the rajma masala simmer for 15-20 minutes. This is the perfect time to steam or boil some rice!
Other than a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish and rice for serving alongside the dish, there isn’t much else needed.
Some warm naan, dosa, roti, or other flatbread like simit or khubz might be nice; you’ll want something to help sop up all of the delicious gravy in your bowl.
Storing rajma chawal
If you have any leftover curry, refrigerate it in an airtight container and use it up within 5 days.
For longer storage, it should freeze well for 3 to 4 months.
To reheat the dish, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until it’s warmed through.
Rajma chawal FAQ
Yes, both are names for the Indian kidney bean curry, and are used interchangeably.
Kidney beans and rice both freeze well, so if you have any leftover rajma chawal, it should keep well in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma Chawal)
- 1 large white onion quartered
- 3 serrano chiles quartered
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 8 oz tomato passata or tomato sauce
- 1 tsp garam masala seasoning
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp fenugreek leaves
- 28 oz red kidney beans (See Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- cilantro chopped (for garnish)
- Puree the onion, chili and water in a blender until a loose paste is formed.
- In a dutch oven over medium heat, melt the ghee and pour in the onion puree. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until it turns a dark golden brown and thickens to a paste, stirring often.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the ginger and garlic, stirring to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato passata, garam masala, cumin and fenugreek leaves. Stir in the beans and the liquid, season with salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
- Serve with chopped cilantro on top. I like this with warm naan and steamed rice.
- I use canned kidney beans and their liquid. If you want to make beans from scratch, use 3 1/2 cups dried, soaked and cooked kidney beans along with 1 cup of cooking liquid.
- This recipe was previously published on my other food site, Kevin Is Cooking, as Red Kidney Bean Curry with Lamb, dated March 2014. I have since updated the cooking technique and omitted ground lamb from the recipe.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.