Indian Rajma Masala

Rajma Masala
A great variety of lentils and beans are used in Indian food, especially vegetarian, for its protein content. Every regional cuisine of India has a traditional bean recipe - Matki (Moth Bean) Usal from Maharashtra, Punjabi Chole (Chickpeas) and so on. Muga Ambat, a traditional Konkani Mung Bean Coconut curry is quite common in my Mom's kitchen. Similarly, Rajma is an integral part of North Indian cooking.

Dry Rajma/Red Kidney Beans - 1 cup
Onion - 1 medium
Canned Tomato Paste - 3 tbsp
Cilantro/Coriander Leaves - few sprigs
Bay Leaf/Tejpatta/Tamal patra - 1
Cinnamon/Dalchini - an inch piece
Cloves/Lavang/Long - 4
Star Anise - 1
Ginger Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Cumin/Jeera Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander/Dhania Powder - 1/2 tsp
Spanish Paprika - 1/4 tsp
Cayenne Pepper or Red Chili Powder - 1/4 tsp
Aamchur/Dry Mango Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chole Masala - 1/4 tsp
Yogurt/Curd/Dahi - 1/4 cup (optional)

How to cook North Indian Rajma Masala:
  • Soak rajma in plenty of water overnight. Wash soaked rajma well and pressure cook them until soft. Do not overcook them. Save the water used for cooking rajma. You can use a slow cooker or a big pot as well to cook the beans.
  • Finely chop onions and cilantro leaves.  
  • Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add bay leaf, star anise, cloves and cinnamon. After a minute, add onions. Sauté until onions soften. Now add ginger and garlic. Sauté at low flame for about 2 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and sauté for a minute or so. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, aamchur, cayenne pepper (for heat) and paprika (for color). Sauté for a minute or two.
  • Whenever I have fresh tomatoes, I use 3 tomatoes. Puree them in a blender and cook it until it thickens. Tomato paste takes less time cooking.
  • Next, add rajma with the water used for cooking, chole masala and salt.  Cook it covered at low heat for about 5 minutes or until you get the desired consistency. You can use any other seasoning like Garam Masala or Kitchen King Masala instead of Chole Masala.
  • Lastly, add thick yogurt and stir. You can skip yogurt, but it balances all the spices well. Cook for another minute and Rajma Masala is ready.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with roti or enjoy it as Rajma Chaval (Rice). I generally serve Rajma Masala with Jeera Rice and Palak Paratha to include some greens in our meal.


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