Red Beans and Rice {Rajma chawal} Recipe

Red beans and rice, also known as ‘rajma chawal’ is a comforting meal from the northern states of India. Red beans simmered in tomato based gravy with Indian spices is served over hot basmati rice.  It makes a perfect family weekend meal.

red beans and rice

Red kidney beans and rice is an all time favorite dish and perfect for the colder months. Rajma masala or curry can be served with roti/chapati or rice. The leftovers can also be used in tortilla wraps.

In this recipe, I have used raw kidney beans. But, you can also use canned kidney beans. I feel the dish tastes better when you use raw beans. If you use raw beans, you need to do some planning. You have to soak the beans for atleast 8-10 hours, discard the water and then cook until the beans are tender. And, then make the dish. A long process, but worth it as you can make a big batch and refrigerate it for the whole week. I usually soak the beans at night around 8-9 PM and the next day morning, cook in the pressure cooker for about 7-8 minutes.

I have used store bought rajma masala for this recipe. It is the only spice I use in this dish. If you plan to buy, you can get it from any Indian grocery store. You can also substitute it with a mixture of coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder and garam masala. But for the authentic flavor, it is worth buying rajma masala powder. Now, the recipe..

red beans and rice recipe


1 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, minced or finely chopped
11/2 tablespoon rajma masala powder (See notes on substitute)
2 medium tomatoes, pureed or finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, unpacked
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped unpacked
2 cups red kidney beans, cooked (See notes on cooking kidney beans)
2 cups plain water or kidney beans stock
2 teaspoon salt, divided


  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan on medium heat.
  • Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder. When the cumin seeds crackle, add onion, ginger and garlic. Saute for few minutes, about 7-8 minutes, until the onions have browned.
  • Now, add the rajma masala powder and tomato puree. Fry until all moisture has evaporated. This could take about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the mint, cilantro, and kidney beans, give a quick mix and cook for about 3 minutes. Mash a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce.
  • Add water more or less depending on the consistency you prefer and cook on medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. Keep stirring once in a while every few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water in a big pot with a teaspoon of salt. Add basmati rice and cook on medium-high flame until the rice is done. It could take about 5-7 minutes. Strain the rice and discard the water.
  • Serve the red beans with rice. Enjoy!
  • Rajma masala substitute – 1 teaspoon coriander powder + 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder + 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder + 1 teaspoon garam masala + 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder.
  • Cooking raw kidney beans – Soak the beans for 8-10 hours. Discard the water and rinse the beans. Pressure cook for 5-7 minutes until the beans are tender and get crushed when mashed in between fingers.



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