Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry)


This rich, creamy kidney bean curry, packed with layers of flavor from oil-bloomed spices and sauteed onion, can be enjoyed over rice with roti or naan for scooping. Add a dollop of tomato achaar or roasted garlic achaar for a little heat and acidity, and the yogurt for creamy coolness. Finish with a small handful of chopped onions and fresh cilantro for a final pop of flavor. If you don't have amchoor powder, you can try a bit of tamarind concentrate or a squeeze of lemon juice instead.

Rajma over rice
Photo: Photo by Rachel Vanni / Food Styling by Judy Haubert
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 1 tablespoon mild-flavored oil, such as sunflower, or ghee

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 2 green cardamom pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Pinch of asafetida

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 2 small green chiles, minced, or to taste

  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala

  • ¼ teaspoon Indian red chile powder or cayenne (optional)

  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 3-4 chopped plum tomatoes

  • 2 - 3 cup cooked kidney beans (from two 15-ounce) cans, or 1 cup dried beans, cooked in a pressure cooker

  • 1 - 2 teaspoon amchoor powder (green mango powder), optional

  • 1 teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar, optional

  • Salt, to taste

For Serving


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and asafetida and fry, stirring often, until the spices sizzle, about 1 minute. Add the chopped onion and turmeric. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles. Stir until fragrant, 30 to 40 seconds. Mix in the coriander, garam masala, and chile powder. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break down and start to separate from the oil, about 15 minutes.

  3. If desired, you can puree the sauce at this point. Remove the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf, and puree in a blender, adding water by the tablespoonful if needed to help move the sauce in the blender. Pour the sauce back into the pan. Stir the kidney beans into the sauce, adding some water if the mixture is too thick (if you cooked them in a pressure cooker, you can use the cooking water).

  4. Simmer the curry until the kidney beans are heated through and the liquid thickens a bit, about 5 minutes. You can also add some water to to thin, if you prefer. Stir in the amchoor powder and add the jaggery, if using. Season to taste with salt.

  5. Serve over rice or with roti or naan, with yogurt for cooling, and achaar for heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced onion.

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