Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry, is 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 and gluten-free recipe.

Rajma Masala in a bowl garnished with cilantro and rice and onions on the side
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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 my favorite meal. 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 the Instant Pot for convenience, especially since 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!

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Rajma

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.

Rajma chawal (red beans with rice) in a plate garnished with cilantro, lime and onions

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 follow 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.
Red kidney Beans (rajma) soaked in water, then drained
  • 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 the 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.
steps to make rajma (kidney beans curry) in instant pot

At this time, you can taste the rajma, and if the spice is low for your taste buds, add more Garam Masala.

Indian Rajma (red kidney beans curry) in the instant pot

One simple trick to get a thicker gravy texture is to mash some of the cooked rajma with a ladle in the same pot.

Rajma in a ladle over the pressure cooker

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 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 considering 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 will 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:

side by side image of uncooked and cooked rice in instant pot

Garnish with cilantro.  Serve with rice, roti, or naan.  You can also enjoy red kidney bean curry as a soup.

Kidney beans curry with rice (rajma chawal) in a plate garnished with cilantro, lime and onions

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.

Rajma (kidney beans curry) in a bowl garnished with cilantro

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!

Common questions

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 preferences regarding 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.

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 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.

Can I use canned beans in this rajma recipe?

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.

red kidney beans curry in a bowl garnished with cilantro leaves.

What to pair with Rajma Masala?

The best comfort food combination is – Rajma Chawal. This translates to red kidney beans curry with rice.

Add a veggie side dish such as Aloo Gobi or Bhindi with rajma. Or add some greens such as spinach while cooking Rajma Curry.

You might also like a side of yogurt or raita and Indian salad with Rajma Masala.

Check out other popular recipes –

4.89 from 165 votes

Instant Pot Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Beans Curry)

Delicious Instant Pot Rajma Masala or Red Kidney Beans Curry with Pot-in-Pot Brown Rice. This is a great way to make a complete meal in your instant pot. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Spices

For Brown Rice

Instructions 

  • 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 the vent in the 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.

Video

Notes

Green Chili Peppers: I use Thai, Birdseye, or Serrano peppers. Remember to adjust the amount to your spice preference. 
Thicker Curry: One simple trick to get a thicker gravy texture is to mash some of the cooked rajma with a ladle in the same pot.
Canned Beans: I prefer to use dry red kidney beans, but you can also make this recipe with canned beans.  If using canned beans, you want to cook on manual for about 6 minutes with natural pressure release. Also, reduce the water to 1 cup. If cooking with canned beans, use white rice for pot-in-pot cooking. 
Set-and-forget Method: I have tried making this Rajma Masala by adding all the ingredients to the instant pot and setting it to pressure cook. That works perfectly for this recipe. If you are short on time, you can skip the initial sautéing steps. 
Rajma Masala Spice Bend: If you have Rajma Masala, you can substitute all spices with it. Just add the salt and garam masala to your taste. 
What to pair with Rajma Masala? Enjoy Rajma Masala with rice and a side of yogurt or raita.   
Created: This recipe was created in a 6qt Instant Pot Pressure Cooker.
Note: I have reduced the amount of water for cooking in this recipe as that has worked better for the final result based on reader feedback. 

Nutrition

Serving: 153gCalories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 37.1gProtein: 11.89gFat: 4.53gSaturated Fat: 0.401gTrans Fat: 0.014gSodium: 594mgPotassium: 875mgFiber: 8.9gSugar: 4.56gVitamin A: 1350IUVitamin C: 44.6mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 4.5mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: North Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Nut-free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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167 Comments

  1. Hi Meeta, your recipes are absolutely amazing! Today i made the best rajma ive ever made following you! Ever since I’ve started following your recipes, my dishes have started to come out MUCH better! I know so much of indian cooking is intuitive with the spices, but your amounts and your IP timings really nail things down so they come out perfect every time. Thank you!

  2. This recipe is one of my new favorites to rotate during the month. It is so delicious with simple ingredients! If I want to double the amount of beans for a double recipe, do I need to also adjust the amount of liquid as well? I’m just not sure when using the IP to cook this dish. Your input would be appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Hi Cathy – Happy to hear you are enjoying this recipe. If you are doubling the amount of beans, then I suggest to increase the liquid proportionally. The pressure cooking time will remain the same.

      1. Hi Meeta, curious is it ok to use the water we soaked the beans in or is there a specific reason to discard it.

        Thanks

      2. Hi Kal – yes, you can use the soaking water if you prefer. But adjust the amount of additional water accordingly.

  3. This recipe is delicious! Thank you for the step by step and the guide to ingredients. I intend to make it again and try the MDH Rajma Masala powder, but I wasn’t sure how much to use. The box has 100 gm, any idea how much I should use for the proportions in this recipe? Thanks again, love your blog.

    1. Hi Amy – I would start with 1 tablespoon Rajma Masala. Skip all the other spices when you use this Rajma Masala.

      1. Hahaha – In the interim, I used the whole box! It was MUCH (did I say MUCH?) too much. I will start with a TB next time! Thanks again.

  4. Thank you Meeta for your website and amazing recipes. I am having a large Indian dinner party with many of your dishes. Can I double or triple the recipe in one 6 quart Instant Pot? I plan to make the rice separately.

  5. Help! My light red kidney beans came out bland. I bought all ingredients except the chilis because I dont like too much heat. Not sure if it was the organic low sodium stewed tomatoes or if I was too conservative measuring my spices. Not sure if I should just add more of all the spices or just add more of one. I follow a low sodium diet so don’t want to add more salt. I followed your recipe to a T but it left me disappointed. Please tell me how to get more flavor. The aroma while cooking in my pressure cooker was wonderful. Next time I will be more generous when measuring my ingredients. Thank you.

    1. Hi Debra – So sorry to hear that you did not find the rajma as flavorful. I would suggest to add more spices, and maybe fresh tomatoes. You can also add more spices after pressure cooking, and give the curry a boil.

  6. Amazing recipe, would have never seen or tried unless you had sent the recipe ideas. So worth signing up to the subscription to get great ideas. Introduced to soo many foods I would have never tried before.

    1. Hi Sanjay – So happy to hear that you found subscribing helpful. I try to share a good mix of recipes in the emails.

  7. I just tried the ‘set and forget’ method, it’s delicious. The instant pot is new to me, and this is one of my daughter’s favorite dishes. She loved it. Next time, I might add a bit less water. Thank you!

  8. You keep referring to
    red kidney beans/red beans interchangeably.
    Red beans are not kidney beans,
    Kidney beans are red but they
    are not red beans