Rajma (Spiced Red Kidney Beans)

Today I went on an Indian cooking spree. For dinner, I made rajma and saag. This post is about rajma, which is an Indian red kidney bean stew (For saag, see the next post).  I really like this recipe since it is super healthy, high in fibre and a source of iron. That’s not bad for these little beans! Feel free to enjoy it with some rice or whole wheat chapattis.

Rajma (red kidney beans)
Rajma: kidney beans cooked with onion and spices 
This recipe starts out the night before with soaking the kidney beans overnight in the fridge. The water to bean ratio should be 3:1. If you’re preparing this for dinner, soaking can be done in the morning and simply left out in room temperature.

Once the beans have been soaked, boil them in unsalted water for about 1 hour until they are soft. Drain and reserve.

In the meanwhile, dice two tomatoes, one onion, mince three cloves of garlic, half an inch of ginger, and one green chili.

Rajma ingredients: tomatoes, green chili, ginger, garlic and onion
Top: diced tomatoes, bottom left to right: minced green chilies, ginger, garlic, and diced onion
In a pan, heat oil and add ginger, garlic and chilies and fry for 1-2 minutes, watch the garlic closely so it doesn’t burn. Then, add the onion and tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. Add a pinch of turmeric at this point. The turmeric will turn everything a lovely shade of yellow and impart its characteristic aromatic fragrance. Add the boiled red kidney beans, cayenne pepper, coriander powder.

At this point, the recipe told me to “simmer until a thick gravy is formed” but the mixture was pretty dry to begin with, so I added some of the liquid that the beans were cooked in for the gravy.

After about 20 minutes, the flavours from the tomatoes, chilies, spices will have infused the kidney beans. Add a pinch of garam marsala. Taste them at this point and add salt to taste. Garnish with some minced fresh coriander leaves and ring the dinner bell.

Rajma (red kidney bean)
Rajma for dinner anyone? 

Taste test: 3.5/5
Slightly spicy from the green chilies and cayenne, this left a pleasant heat  in my mouth. I don’t think I cooked the kidney beans for long enough, they were a little too chewy for my liking. Otherwise a lively and brightly coloured dish. This would make a lovely filling for an Indian-style burrito, and I’ve also read about using it as a pizza topping, or simply eaten with plain rice.


1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 tbsp vegetable oil/ butter/ ghee
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 green chili, minced
1 small onion, fine dice
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 pinch ground turmeric, about 1/4 tsp
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam marsala
salt to taste
2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), minced

  1. Boil red kidney beans until they are soft, about 1 hour, drain and reserve the cooking liquid 
  2. Heat vegetable oil/ butter/ ghee in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add minced garlic, ginger, and chilies and cook for 1 minute 
  3. Add the onion and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent and tomatoes are softened 
  4. Add turmeric, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, and cooked kidney beans 
  5. Add enough of the cooking liquid from the kidney beans to form a sauce, about 1 cup; simmer until the sauce is thickened and coats the beans 
  6. Sprinkle with garam marsala, do a taste test, salt accordingly 
  7. Garnish with minced coriander and serve 

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