Rajma masala is a simple and flavorful curry made with red kidney beans. The base of this kidney beans curry is made with onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and spices. I am making this easy rajma recipe in an Instant Pot. It is ready in less than 45 minutes with just 5 minutes of hands-on time.
Rajma chawal (rajma served with steamed rice as the side dish) is considered the ultimate comfort food in North Indian households and this is the easiest one-pot recipe for weeknight dinner. And the best part is that it tastes just like authentic Punjabi rajma masala. Leftover rajma curry tastes best the next day so make a big batch. And the next morning, take out the stored rajma from last night and simply reheat it in a microwave or on the stovetop. You will thank me later!
The red kidney beans need to be soaked before making this curry so make sure you prep them beforehand. It is best to soak them overnight or for at least a few hours. This vegan curry can be served with basmati rice, red or brown rice, or short-grain white rice for a complete meal. You can also serve it with any flatbread of your choice.
Red kidney beans are a very good plant-based protein source. Kidney beans are rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins. It is also rich in fiber and also is a natural diuretic. It is known to regulate blood sugar levels and help with weight loss. This rajma curry is hugely popular in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in northern India. Read on for the ingredients, step-by-step instructions, useful tips, and FAQs to make this easy vegan bean curry.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Simplicity: This Instant Pot rajma recipe is easy to follow, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced cooks. With just a few basic ingredients and minimal hands-on time, you can enjoy a flavorful and satisfying dish.
- Authentic flavors: The combination of aromatics and spices creates a rich and authentic Punjabi rajma masala taste. You can expect the dish to be flavorful and reminiscent of the popular North Indian version.
- Leftover goodness: Rajma masala tastes even better the next day, making it an excellent dish for leftovers. You can make a large batch and enjoy the flavors for multiple meals, saving time and effort.
- Nutritional benefits: Red kidney beans, the main ingredient of rajma masala, are a great plant-based protein source. They are also rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber. Additionally, they offer potential health benefits such as blood sugar regulation and aiding in weight loss.
Rajma: (red kidney bean) Soaked kidney beans are the main ingredient of this dish. There are three main varieties of kidney beans - Chitra, Jammu, and red rajma. Use red rajma for this curry.
Onion, ginger, and garlic: Roughly chop them and use them to grind along with tomatoes and spices to make the masala base.
Tomatoes: Dice the tomatoes and grind them. Alternatively, you may use tomato puree to make this dish.
Spices: I use ground coriander (coriander powder), ground cumin (cumin powder), red chili powder, turmeric powder, asafetida (hing), and garam masala powder.
Kasuri methi: This is dried fenugreek leaves. This is an optional ingredient but I highly recommend using it.
Step 1: Grind together onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, hing, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder using ¼ cup of water (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add oil. Add the ground paste and salt. Mix well. Cover and saute for 4-5 minutes to make the bhuna masala, stirring occasionally (images 3 and 4).
Step 3: Add the soaked rajma and 3 cups of water and close the Instant Pot lid (images 5 and 6).
Step 4: Set it to Bean/Chili mode (on high pressure). Pressure cook for 30 minutes (image 7).
Step 5: Once the Instant Pot beeps, turn it off. Do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then do a quick release (image 8).
Step 6: Add garam masala, crushed Kasuri methi, and cilantro (coriander leaves). Mix well (images 9 and 10).
I am making this dish in an electric pressure cooker. You can also follow this recipe and make it on the stove top.
Steps to make on a stovetop pressure cooker:
- Grind together onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, hing, turmeric, chili powder (or green chilli), coriander powder, and cumin powder using ¼ cup of water.
- Heat oil, and add the ground paste and salt. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the soaked beans and 4 cups of water.
- Increase to high heat and bring it to a boil. (You can use hot water instead of room temperature water to save time).
- Cover the lid and cook it for 4-5 whistles.
Use dried rajma beans to make traditional rajma masala. Soak them in enough water beforehand and rinse them in running tap water before using them. Unsoaked beans will take a long time to cook and get the perfect texture.
For every cup of dry beans, we will need 1.5 cups of water. In this recipe, I have used 2 cups of dry rajma and 3 cups of water. Adjust the quantities as per your preference.
To make Indian kidney bean curry using canned kidney beans, follow this recipe, add the cooked beans, and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook mode for 3-4 minutes. The rest of the cooking process remains the same.
You can use the pot-in-pot cooking method to make rice when using canned beans. Place washed rice and water in a small pot and place it on a trivet. Place the trivet on top of the curry before pressure cooking. Rice and the curry will be ready at the same time using this pip method.
You can also use canned beans and make this red kidney bean curry. In that case, adjust the cook time to 3 minutes. The rest of the recipe remains the same.
Do a natural release of the pressure for 10 minutes and then do a quick release. You can also skip the quick release and let the pressure release naturally.
I am using the Bean/Chili mode of my Instant Pot and cooking it for 30 minutes. This gives me soft beans that hold their shape and are not mushy. Alternatively, you can do a manual pressure and adjust the cooking time to 20 minutes.
Here are some optional ingredients and substitutes you can use in this Instant Pot rajma recipe:
- Replace fresh ginger and garlic with ginger garlic paste.
- Use green chili to the masala base for a spicier version. You can also skip the chili powder and use green chilies instead.
- I am not using any whole Indian spices in this recipe. However, you may add bay leaf and cumin seeds before adding the masala paste.
- Top the curry with lemon juice or amchur powder for a nice tangy taste.
Click here for my collection of Instant Pot Indian curries. Click here to see how to make easy chana masala.
Beans like red kidney beans, black beans, etc. are a great way to include plant-based protein in your diet. Try this vegan black bean burger for a flavorful and delicious vegan and gluten-free meal.
Click here to see more mains recipes.
Variations of rajma masala
While the classic rajma masala recipe is delicious on its own, here are some variations that add variety to the dish:
Rajma paneer masala: This variation incorporates paneer (Indian cottage cheese) into the dish. You can add cubed paneer along with the cooked kidney beans to create a protein-rich and creamy version of rajma masala.
Rajma masala with spinach: To boost the nutritional value of the dish, you can add chopped spinach leaves to the rajma masala. Spinach adds a vibrant green color and adds extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the dish.
Coconut milk rajma masala: For a creamy and slightly sweet twist, you can substitute a portion of the tomatoes or add coconut milk to the gravy. Coconut milk adds a rich and mellow flavor to the dish.
Rajma masala with potato: Add chopped potatoes along with rajma to add flavor and depth. Make sure you cut them into big chunks for this dish.
Smoky rajma masala: For a smoky flavor, you can add a few drops of liquid smoke to the dish. This variation adds depth and complexity to the flavors.
Rajma masala with mixed beans: Instead of using only red kidney beans, you can create a mix of different beans such as black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas. This variation adds a diverse texture and flavor profile to the dish.
What to serve with Instant Pot rajma masala?
Rajma masala is typically enjoyed as a main dish and is commonly served with a variety of accompaniments to create a complete and satisfying meal. The idea is to have a combination of textures, flavors, and temperatures that complement the robust flavors of rajma masala.
Steamed rice (rajma chawal): The most traditional and common pairing is rajma masala served with steamed basmati rice. The combination of the flavorful curry and fluffy rice is a classic and comforting choice.
Indian bread: Rajma masala pairs well with various Indian bread like roti, naan, or paratha.
Jeera rice: Jeera rice, or cumin rice, is another delicious option to serve alongside Instant Pot rajma. The subtle flavors of cumin complement the spiciness of the curry, creating a delightful combination.
Brown or red rice: For a healthier twist, you can opt for brown rice or red rice as a nutritious alternative to white rice. These grains provide added fiber and nutrients to the meal.
Salad: A refreshing salad can be a great accompaniment to balance the richness of the rajma masala. A simple cucumber-tomato-onion salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of chaat masala complements the flavors well.
Raita: Raita, a yogurt-based side dish, helps cool down the palate and provides a creamy and refreshing element to the meal. You can make basic raita with yogurt, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and a pinch of cumin powder.
This kidney bean curry stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be frozen for up to three months. Make sure you cool the curry completely before storing it and store it as soon as it is cooled. To reheat, add a small amount of water and simmer on the stovetop.
Rajma is rich in iron, folates, and vitamins, and is a good source of plant-based protein. Additionally, it is known for its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss. It is, however, important to soak them and rinse them well before using them.
Soaking the rajma is important before cooking it. This step not only helps in cooking it easily, but it also helps with the digestion of the cooked rajma and makes its nutrients easily available to the body. Discard the water in which it was soaked and thoroughly rinse the soaked rajma with fresh water. This step will help remove the indigestible starch which can cause flatulence.
Rajma or red kidney beans are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index. This helps you stay full for longer and thus helps with weight loss.
If you liked this recipe, please don't forget to give a 5-star rating and leave a comment below.
Instant Pot Rajma Masala
- 2 cups red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 inch ginger
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Kasuri methi dried fenugreek leave
- A small pinch hing asafetida
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- Soak rajma in sufficient water for 8 hours (or overnight). Rinse under running water and set aside.
- Grind together onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, hing, ground turmeric, chili powder, ground coriander, and ground cumin using ¼ cup water.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add oil.
- Add the ground paste and salt. Mix well.
- Saute on less for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the soaked rajma and 3 cups of water.
- Secure the lid of the IP and seal the vent.
- Set it to Bean/Chili mode and cook for 30 minutes (see tips section above).
- Once the Instant Pot beeps, turn it off. Do a natural release of pressure for 10 minutes and then do a quick release.
- Add garam masala, crushed Kasuri methi, and cilantro. Mix well.
- Serve hot with plain steamed rice or jeera rice.
Kayla DiMaggio says
This instant pot rajma masala was so delicious! I love all the flavors! The perfect for a chilly day!
This is a great rajma masala, really tasty! I love this recipe, looks very easy and filling. Definitely going to give this a go, thank you so much for sharing!
This kidney bean curry is so flavorful and easy to make, plus the kitchen smelled incredible as it was cooking! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Love bean curries. I haven't made one with red kidney beans in a long time, so I'll have to give yours a go soon. Your instant pot does a good job of cooking those beans quickly.
This was so yummy! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Loved this wonderful flavourful curry. I'll be making this again soon.
Kayla DiMaggio says
What a delicious dish! You are now my go to when it comes to Indian dishes, this was amazing and the whole family loved it!
This dish sounds so flavorful and delicious. COmforting and warming. Perfect winter dinner. I'm going to make this for sure. Thanks!
This instant pot rajma masala was so good! I love all the flavors and spices! It was such a delicious family dinner. Thank you.
Curry is such a comfort food to me and this kidney bean curry looks amazing! Plus, only 5 minutes of prep time- thanks for sharing the recipe!
This turned out absolutely perfect for dinner! I'm glad I made a big batch so my family can eat on throughout the week. It's so flavorful and delicious by itself!
we love this kidney bean curry that is so easy to make and fills you right up!