Rajma Masala, which Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry a favorite comfort food to enjoy with rice. You can make this red bean 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 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 whole 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 a popular comfort food in North India.
How to make Rajma in Instant Pot?
Rajma or Red Beans takes longer to cook, which makes them a perfect fit for pressure cooking. In India, beans are always prepared in a traditional stove top 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, which was the perfect setting to cook 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 about 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 you are ready to 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 laddle in the same pot.
How to make Red Kidney Beans Curry with Pot-in-Pot Brown Rice?
One of the big advantages of the Instant Pot is – the option to do Pot-in-Pot Cooking or PIP. This means being able to cook multiple things at a time, by also 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. Here are the one’s I use:
Another important thing with pot-in-pot cooking is to consider the cooking time for the dishes you want to cook together. As an example, red kidney beans take about 30 mins to cook at high pressure and brown rice take about 22-25 mins 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 on a Stovetop Pressure Cooker?
Follow the sam 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.
How to make Palak Rajma Masala?
Want to add greens to your meal? A great variation to this rajma recipe would to add some greens such as spinach or kale or chard to the rajma. After the rajma is cooked, stir in 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!
Let’s discuss some common questions for cooking Rajma.
Should I soak kidney beans before cooking?
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 that is what I have seen my mom do. 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 the digestion. So choose what works for you.
Sometimes red beans also take longer to cook if they are old. If you have an option to check the packaging date, then buy beans that are not too old.
I forgot to soak beans, can I still make Rajma?
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 to not 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 3 cups water for 1 cup of beans.
Can I use canned beans in this rajma recipe?
If using canned kidney beans in this rajma recipe, cook for just 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 beans curry with rice.
You might also like side of yogurt or raita with Rajma Masala.
Punjabi Rajma Masala Recipe (Red Kidney Beans Curry) - Instant Pot & Stovetop
- 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.
- Add the soaked rajma and water to the instant pot. Stir it all up.
- 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.
- Using tongs, carefully take out the bowl of brown rice. Then take out the trivet.
- Add lemon juice and stir the rajma. Garnish with cilantro. Rajma masala is ready. Serve with rice or roti.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker:
- Follow the sam 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.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.