Rajma chawal

Red kidney bean curry with rice

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Originally a staple of the village kitchen, this rustic, traditional meal is cooked in households all over India. Simple and nutritious, it is naturally gluten free, vegan and suited to people with allergies.

Using tinned beans and tomatoes significantly cuts down preparation time and makes this dish suitable for a quick weeknight meal. Just remember to read the tin label, as preservatives, sodium and sugar may be present from the canning process.

You can also make the rajma (bean curry) ahead of time, and reheat for serving. If making ahead, stir the coriander through just before serving.


  • 2–3 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch) knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1–2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
  • 375 g (13 oz/ cups) crushed tomatoes and their juices, or tomato passata (see tip)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • teaspoons Chaat masala, plus extra to garnish
  • ½ teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder); optional
  • 2 x 540 g (1 lb 3 oz) tins red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) coconut water; use water if you do not want the sweetness
  • chopped coriander (cilantro), to serve and to garnish
  • julienned strips of fresh ginger, to garnish (optional)


Heat the rice bran oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Fry the onion for 7–8 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden around the edges.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry together for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, ground spices and amchur, if using. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Turn down the heat and cook, stirring every so often, for 7–10 minutes, or until the masala starts reducing and comes together in a sticky mass, and the oil starts separating from it. (At this point, if you prefer a smooth sauce, you can blend the mixture to a fine paste and return it to the saucepan; I like a bit of texture in my rajma, so I usually leave it as is.)

Stir in the kidney beans and coconut water. Simmer for a few more minutes, until the beans are heated through. Add a little more hot water if the sauce is too thick.

Just before serving, stir in some chopped fresh coriander. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with extra garam masala and top with more coriander and the ginger strips, if using. Serve with steamed rice.