Rajma Masala – Kidney Beans Curry

Beans are a staple food in so many cultures around the world. They’re nutritious, contain protein as well as fiber, they’re widely available, inexpensive and above all- almost every culture has a comfort food version including beans.  In northern India, a popular rustic combination of Beans and Rice is called Rajma Chawal, where Rajma refers to any variety of kidney beans, and, Chawal means rice. This dish is very close to my heart- it represents my Punjabi roots and has countless childhood memories attached to it.

Instant Pot Rajma Masala- Red Beans curryThere are many varieties of kidney beans, mostly distinguished by color and region, where they’re grown. My favorite type is dark kidney beans. If I have time to plan ahead, I soak the dry kidney beans the night before. Then, I cook these rinsed and drained beans in a mildly spicy, tomato based curry, seasoned with warm Indian spices. Beans take around 45-50 minutes to cook on a stove-top, so I always pressure cook them in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot, which cuts the cooking time in half.  For weeknights, using canned kidney beans and crushed tomatoes in the same recipe, makes this comfort meal possible in 5-6 minutes of cooking time. In the same amount of time, you can cook white Basmati rice, Brown rice or quinoa.

Beans and Rice, pot in pot Instant PotPIP meal: You can cook this kidney beans curry, using the Pot-in-Pot technique, along with rice, all in the same pot. The cooking time of dry kidney beans matches that of brown rice, so they can both be cooked in the same pot. Here is the recipe for that. If you’re using canned Kidney beans, you can pair that with white Basmati rice.

This recipe is very versatile. If you have a favorite way of making Kidney Beans, you can simply use this recipe as a guideline and use your spices!


Rajma Masala - Kidney Beans Curry

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 25 Minutes Manual/Pressure Cook, NPR




Prep: If using dry kidney beans, rinse and soak them overnight. Drain them before use. Chop onions and crush ginger-garlic. You can do that by pulsing them together in a mini food processor. Puree tomatoes if using fresh.


Turn on SAUTE mode, adjust to more. Wait 30 seconds and add oil/ghee, cumin seeds and green chillies. When the cumin seeds begin to sizzle (a few seconds), add chopped onions and crushed ginger-garlic. Saute for 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and all spices, saute for 30 seconds. Add drained kidney beans and water and stir.


Close lid, Valve set to sealing. Set Manual or Pressure Cook for 25 minutes, NPR (natural Pressure release). Open lid after NPR and garnish the Kidney Beans curry (Rajma) with chopped cilantro.


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