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Rajma-red kidney bean-Recipe

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For anyone who comes from North India, rajma-chawal is one of those national symbols that keep us beckoning to our mothers' kitchens. Red kidney beans are also a common ingredient of Mexican dish 'chilli con carne' and are equally used in Creole dish of red beans with rice in Louisiana.




Without further ado, here's the punjabi recipe that works almost flawlessly for Rajma.

What will you need:

  • 3 cups Rajma (red kidney beans)
  • 2 medium sized Onions (chopped)
  • 3 medium Tomatoes (chopped) or tomato pur√©e 200 ml
  • Ginger paste 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste 2 teaspoons
  • Spices (asafoetida, cumin seeds, coriander powder, 'garam masala' powder & turmeric powder) 1 teaspoon each
  • Clarified butter 2 tablespoons
  • Salt 2 teaspoons (or according to taste)
  • Fresh coriander leaves, green chillies to garnish (optional)

Directions to follow:

  • Soak Rajma overnight in a pan with a pinch each of salt and baking powder. Drain and discard the water the next morning. Rinse the red beans well.
  • Put the rinsed red kidney beans in a heavy bottom pan/ pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover them. Add salt and turmeric. Boil till soft and done (3-4 whistles for a standard Indian pressure cooker or approx. 30 minutes in a pan, add water if necessary). Mash 1/4th of these boiled red beans in a blender. Add this mixture to the rest.
  • Heat ghee (clarified butter) in a heavy bottom pan/ skillet/ wok.
  • Add cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida. Fry for 1 minute.
  • Add chopped onions. Shallow fry till golden brown.
  • Add ginger and garlic paste. Stir fry for about a minute.
  • Add chopped tomatoes or tomato pur√©e. Mix in well. Leave for about 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle coriander powder and garam masala.
  • Add Rajma. Cover and let simmer on low heat for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves, green chillies.


  • Rajma is a typical North Indian dish enjoyed with basmati rice. Rajma-Rice is a staple food at 'dhaba' or unassuming road-side joints throughout north of India. Very punjabi in style and flavour, this dish shares the same place as the classic duos of 'makki ki roti- sarson ka saag', 'halwa-poori', 'chhole-bhature', 'daal-chawal' etc.
  • Red kidney beans are high in starch, proteins, dietary fibres and some minerals such as iron, magnesium, vitamin B5, vitamin B9, calcium etc. Preparing them with asafoetida, cumin, ginger and other spices helps reduce the indigestion that is normally associated with beans. In addition, some flatulence causing complex sugars are leeched out in the soaking process. That is why it is recommended to soak overnight, drain the water and rinse a few times before boiling the beans.
  • A part of the boiled beans is mashed in order to give a thicker, less watery consistency. For the same reason, ginger & garlic pastes (not chopped ginger & garlic) and tomato pur√©e are prefered (in place of chopped tomatoes). However, after a few trials, one can start to experiment with different consistencies by varying the type of ingredient used.
  • Spices are best added before the end as most of the ground spices have essential, volatile oils (cloves and black pepper for example). Adding them at the beginning might lead to a loss of these oils.
  • Clarified butter (ghee) is a healthier source of fat compared to butter. However, it is not essential to preparation. One may make this dish according to one's dietary preferences for certain sources of fat (margarine, sunflower oil, groundnut oil etc.). Olive oil, however, is not recommended because of its distinct taste.

For parisians, all the ingredients (Ghee, spices etc.) are available in Indian Quarter. Look up the article for addresses of some grocery stores.


French Equivalents:



Red kidney beans


Baking powder





haricots rouges

du sel

levure chimique





Cumin seeds


Coriander powder

Garam Masala


graines de cumin


poudre de coriandre

garam masala


Clarified Butter


du beurre clarifié

de l'eau



Black Pepper


Sunflower oil

Groundnut oil

Olive oil

du riz

clous de girofle

poivre noir


huile de tournesol

huile d'arachide

huile d'olive






pinch (of)

faire tremper





une pincée


Bon Appetit!


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