A flavorful, simply-made bowl of rajma masala with fresh roti. Be ready for a creamy, not-too-spicy dish with a dollop of cream and a fried chili on top.
Rajma Masala is a popular North Indian dish made with red kidney beans. The beans are soaked overnight, then cooked to a creamy consistency in a spicy and tangy tomato-based gravy. It’s typically served with rice and commonly referred to as “Rajma Chawal” where “Chawal” means rice.
We are a family of dal-lovers. We were also a family who took many short road-trips, to get out of the city and feed some fresh air into our lungs when I was a kid. It was during one of those trips at a roadside dhaba, I ate the most flavorful and simply-made bowl of rajma with fresh roti from a tandoor. It was all that was promised – creamy, not-too-spicy and with a big dollop of cream and fried chili on top. I was an enthusiastic 11-year old, discovering new food (with the help of my mother) and that combination simply bowled me over. I still remember my school friends from Northern part of India just couldn’t understand the zealousness and what was such a big deal about it!
Until today, the memories of that first bite are fresh and this recipe for red beans curry with rice or bread is (and will be) my absolute definition for comfort food.
Step by Step Guide to Making Rajma Masala Curry
Preparation of Beans:
- For dried beans: Wash and rinse the beans 2-3 times and soak them overnight. The next day, drain and rinse again. Pressure cook with the green tea bag and whole spices for 3-4 whistles or until the beans are tender but still holding their shape. Once pressure releases, discard the tea bag and spices. Reserve the cooking liquid.
- For canned beans: Drain the canning liquid and rinse the beans thoroughly before proceeding.
Preparation of Masala Base:
- In a pan on a low-medium flame, melt the butter. Add cumin seeds and hing. As they begin to sizzle, add onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the ginger-garlic paste and green chili. Continue to fry for another minute.
- Introduce the spices: turmeric, salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and mango powder. Mix.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Cook until the tomatoes break down, forming a mushy consistency.
Adding Beans and Liquid:
- Pour in the reserved cooking liquid (about a cup). If using canned beans, use water or stock.
- Add the beans and mix. Simmer on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
Creating a Creamy Consistency:
- Take a small portion of the simmering curry, cool it slightly, and blend into a fine paste. This helps thicken the curry.
- Return the paste to the pot and mix. Stir in the cream. Adjust the consistency by adding more or less liquid as desired. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with additional cream (if desired), coriander leaves, and fried green chilies. Serve with rice or roti, complemented by raw onion and lemon wedges.
Siri is an obsessed foodie, an avid blogger, a passionate photographer and one who yearns for simple pleasures of life. She writes about recipes, her culinary adventures and reviews local restaurants & events on her blog - Cooking With Siri, which she started in summer of 2007 during her stint in the US. She believes in farmer's markets, growing her own food and eating responsibly & locally. She also has a photography blog - 365 Days of Siri, where she shares and documents a slice of her daily life through the camera lens. She currently lives in Hyderabad, India along with her food-loving husband.