Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry a favorite comfort food to enjoy with rice. You can make this curry in an instant pot or traditional pressure cooker. Learn to make Rajma along with pot-in-pot Brown Rice. This is a vegan & gluten-free recipe.
Rajma is also known as Red Kidney Beans. They are a rich source of fiber and protein. They serve as a great source of protein in a vegetarian dish.
Rajma Chawal (Red Kidney Beans with Rice) used to be a favorite meal for me. Being a Punjabi, I was fortunate that my mom used to make melt-in-the-mouth rajma chawal almost every week when we were growing up. So here we will make authentic Punjabi Rajma Masala. Now I like to make rajma in Instant Pot for the convenience. More so, as I can make the whole meal with brown rice in one pot.
Looking for more easy Instant Pot Recipes? Here are 29 Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipes for you to try!
What is Rajma Masala?
Rajma is a popular vegan dish from the Indian subcontinent, consisting of red kidney beans in a thick gravy with many aromatic spices. It is usually served with rice. The North Indian Punjabi style of making Rajma Masala is the most loved. Combine Rajma with rice, called Rajma Chawal is the most popular comfort food in North India.
Curious about pulses used in Indian cooking? Check out my detailed guide about Indian Pulses.
How to make Rajma in Instant Pot?
Rajma or Red Kidney Beans take longer to cook, which makes them a perfect fit for pressure cooking. In India, beans are always prepared in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker. So when I got the Instant Pot, they were one of the first dishes I tried. I was glad to see a “Bean/Chili” mode, the perfect setting for cooking Rajma Masala.
In this recipe, I use basic spices. You can also use Rajma Masala, which replaces all other spices in this recipe. I like the MDH brand Rajma masala powder.
Let’s go through the step-by-step recipe to cook Rajma in the instant pot.
- As a preparation, soak the rajma beans in ample water for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook them, start with sautéing oil, jeera, chili pepper, onions, ginger, and garlic in the Instant Pot. Then saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and spices and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Then, add the soaked beans and water to the instant pot and change setting to “Bean/Chili” mode. This will set the cooking time to 30 minutes on high pressure. Release the pressure naturally.
- Rajma should be ready.
At this time, you can taste the rajma, and if the spice is low for your taste buds, add more Garam Masala.
One simple trick to get a thicker gravy texture is to mash some of the cooked rajma with a ladle in the same pot.
How to make Red Kidney Beans Curry with Pot-in-Pot Brown Rice?
One of the Instant Pot’s big advantages is the option to do Pot-in-Pot Cooking or PIP. This means being able to cook multiple things at a time, by cooking in a small pot inside the main pot. To do pot-in-pot cooking, you need a tall trivet and stainless steel containers that you can use within the main pot.
Another important thing with pot-in-pot cooking is to consider the cooking time for the dishes you want to cook together. For example, red kidney beans take about 30 minutes to cook at high pressure, and brown rice takes about 22-25 minutes at high pressure. Hence if I add rice pot-in-pot with beans, they would get cooked well. I would not cook white rice along with rajma. However, they would work well with split yellow lentils that cook in 6 mins at high pressure.
Here is how I make Rajma with pot-in-pot Brown Rice in the instant pot:
How to make Rajma in a Stovetop Pressure Cooker?
Follow the same steps as above. Just cook the rajma on a stovetop pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles on high heat, then set the heat to medium and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
How to make Palak Rajma Masala?
Want to add greens to your meal? A great variation to this rajma recipe would be to add some greens such as spinach, kale, or chard to the rajma. After the rajma is cooked, stir 2 cups of chopped greens into the curry. Let it sit for 5 minutes so the greens can soak in the flavors of the curry, and enjoy!
How to make set-and-forget Rajma?
Lately, I have been trying to make Rajma by adding all the ingredients to the pot and pressure cooking. You will be surprised. That works like a charm. The Rajma are cooked really well and have almost the same taste as when onions and tomatoes are sautéed to make the curry.
If you are short on time and want to skip the effort to saute, try this method!
I see this question come up many times. For rajma to be well-cooked, they should be melt-in-the-mouth soft.
Many people have their preference on whether or not to soak beans. I started with soaking, as I have seen my mom do that. I like that after soaking, the beans are easier to cook and take much less time cooking.
Some studies suggest that soaking helps reduce the amount of phytic acid, which reduces absorption of important nutrients and aids in digestion. Others suggest soaking does not affect digestion. So choose what works for you.
Sometimes red kidney beans also take longer to cook if they are old. If you can check the packaging date, buy beans that are not too old.
Let me share the quick soaking method. Heat water in a microwave or stovetop. And soak beans in the hot water for 30-60 minutes. This will give comparable results as soaking for longer.
If you decide not to soak, then you can still make rajma. They will take about 45-50 minutes to cook on high pressure. You will also have to add more water as soaked beans absorb some water. I would suggest 2.5 cups of water for 1 cup of beans.
If using canned kidney beans in this rajma recipe, cook for 6 minutes on high pressure and reduce the water to 1 cup. This will give enough time for the beans to soak in the flavors of the curry. If cooking with canned beans, use white rice for pot-in-pot cooking.
What to pair with Rajma Masala?
The best comfort food combination is – Rajma Chawal. This translates to red kidney beans curry with rice.
Check out other popular recipes –
Instant Pot Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Curry)
- 1 cup Red Kidney Beans (Rajma), soaked for at least 4 hours to overnight in water
- 1 tablespoon Ghee or Oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 1 tablespoon Ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
- 1 Green chili pepper , diced
- 1.5 cups Onion, diced
- 1 cup Tomato, diced
- 1.5 cups Water, for cooking
- 1 tablespoon Lime juice
- Cilantro, to garnish
- Start the instant pot in Saute (More) mode and let it heat until it displays HOT. Add oil, cumin seeds and green chili.
- Add onions, ginger and garlic. Stir and saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and spices to the instant pot. Stir and saute for 2 more minutes.
- Drain the old soaking water from the soaked beans and discard. Add the beans and the water (for cooking) to the instant pot. Stir it all up.
- (optional) Place the trivet. In a bowl, add all ingredients for brown rice and place it on top of the trivet.
- Close the lid with vent in sealing position. Change the setting to "Bean/Chili" mode. This will set the timer to 30 minutes at high pressure cooking. Once the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally and then open the lid.
- (optional) Using tongs, carefully take out the bowl of brown rice. Then take out the trivet.
- Add lime juice and stir the rajma. Garnish with cilantro. Rajma masala is ready. Serve with rice or roti.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker:
- Follow the same steps as above. Just cook the rajma on stovetop pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles on high heat, then set the heat to medium and cook for another 15-20 minutes.