Rajma Masala is one of my most favorite comfort foods of all time. It wasn’t always this way. I never even thought about rajma or kidney beans while growing up because it was never a major part of my diet. Assamese people consume rajma once in a while and we mostly have it with rotis. Savoring it with rice has only been recent.
My first exposure to proper Rajma Masala was when I moved to Delhi for my studies. I used to live as a paying guest in a house and rajma masala with rice or rajma chawal used to be the highlight of our Sunday meals. At first, I really didn’t get it as the definition of Sunday comfort meals for me comprised of so many things (including generous portions of fish and meat). Classmates in college would also fondly talk about this combination and the idea was non-relatable to me. I could not romanticize rajma chawal as comfort food.
Fast forward a decade later, I have started to love this combination. Also, you need to know how to make the perfect rajma masala to fall in love with it. I clearly wasn’t having good ones in my college days. But the rajma at a good dhaba or a north Indian eatery made me slowly realise why people love it so much. And I found the best rajma is found in people’s homes in Delhi. Friends moms and grandmoms who had magic in their hands. I could not crack the code for many years. I kept practicing for a long time until I finally cracked the code to the perfect rajma masala.
How To Make The Perfect Rajma Masala
So here I am sharing the perfect rajma masala recipe for you. This one is very close to my heart and this is how I make it. Here are some tips and tricks that I can give from my learning of this beautiful recipe.
Soak the rajma or kidney beans
It is important that you soak the kidney beans or rajma overnight. This step ensures that the cooking time of the beans becomes lesser and removed the possibility of having them raw in the curry. Soaking the kidney beans helps to fluff them up so that they bloom beautifully in the morning.
It is very important that you season the rajma and water well with salt when you boil them. And the amount of salt has to be enough for all the kidney beans to soak it as well as the broth to have a lot of flavors. It will ensure that each bite is seasoned and not bland when you add the boiled kidney beans to the masala.
Use fresh spices
A lot of spices go into the making of this rajma masala that lends it a distinct set of flavors, aroma, and taste. To get the best out of this recipe, I recommend you keep your spices as fresh as possible. By fresh I mean get the whole spices and grind them at home instead of using store-bought masalas. Trust me, there is nothing simpler you can do to make your food taste stunning every single time. This is the best tip for making any recipe taste gorgeous! I make a big batch of spices every month at my home – be it cumin, coriander, or garam masala! The fresh spices elevate the taste and quality of recipes to a whole new level.
Cook the masala well
This base of this rajma masala is a mixture of onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and some wonderful spices. Everything is ground to a paste and to make sure the rawness fades completely. it’s important to be a little patient and cook the masala through. This requires 15-20 minutes of slow cooking until you see the oil release from the sides. The last thing you want in your rajma is an undercooked tomato base. A little investment in terms of time, but the results are absolutely worth it.
Techniques in making this version of Rajma Masala
In this particular version of rajma masala, there are four steps.
Step 1 – Boiling the soaked rajma with salt and water in a pressure cooker.
Step 2 – Making the masala in a kadhai
Step 3 – Mixing the masala with the boiled rajma in the pressure cooker
Step 4 – Cooking the rajma for two more whistles in the pressure cooker
These steps ensure you can get a thick and luxurious curry, that is packed with flavors and taste. I have been making rajma this way for many years now after having tried many other ways. And I have always found it to be the tastiest!
So without any further delay, let’s get straight to the recipe:
Preparation time – 30 minutes
Cook time – 60 minutes
Serves – 8
- 2 cups rajma/kidney beans
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt (for boiling the rajma)
- A liter of water
- 2 medium onions
- 4 medium ripe tomatoes
- 1-inch ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 green chili
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp amchur/dry mango powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Kasuri methi, a handful
- Fresh coriander for garnish
- 1 tbsp ghee for garnish
- Soak the rajma is enough water and leave them overnight (12-15 hours). Wash and drain.
- Make a paste of the onions, ginger, and chili.
- Grind the tomatoes to a paste.
- In a pressure cooker, add the soaked rajma, a liter of water and a bay leaf. Cook for 8-10 whistles. Let the pressure release on its own.
- Heat oil in a kadhai or skillet. Add the onion paste and saute for a few minutes.
- Add the ginger-garlic and chili paste and saute on medium to low flame till the raw aroma disappears.
- Season the masala with salt, cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder, turmeric powder, and dry mango powder. Saute on low heat.
- Add a splash of water to prevent the masalas from sticking.
- Pour the tomato paste and stir. Cook on high heat for two minutes.
- Reduce the flame to low, cover, and let it simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
- Take the lid off and check if the oil is separating from the masala. If yes, switch off the flame and trasfer the masala to the pressure cooker. Stir.
- Add some garam masala and kasuri methi. Stir well and cook for another two whistles.
- Once the pressure is released, open the lid of the pressure cooker. Give one last stir to the rajma masala.
- Garnish with a dollop of ghee and fresh coriander.
- Serve hot with jeera rice, plain rice or pulao.