Instantpot Rajma Masala – Kidney Beans Curry Recipe

Rajma masala is an iconic Indian curry of red kidney beans simmered in a rich and flavorful butter masala. Combination of different spices,  bold flavors and velvety creamy texture equals this dynamic curry recipes.

Rajma is kidney beans.  This famous Punjabi curry recipe is a staple food especially in Northern India.  Melt in your mouth tender kidney beans simmered in luscious onion tomato masala curry. This delicious recipe oozes comfort and satisfaction in every bite.

Rustic earthy flavors are key in this popular recipe.  Most Indian spice boxes are stocked up with the herbs and spices needed to bring out that aroma.

Ethnic copper serving container full of Rajma curry garnished with juliened ginger and chopped cilatro leaves. White basmati rice , red onion and lemon wedges in the background for complete dinner serving.

Kidney Beans Curry spans it’s stardom across all genres.  From roadside food stalls called “Dhabas” to five star restaurants, and, from weeknight dinners to lavish parties and wedding dinners, you will find Rajma Curry everywhere.

This hearty curry is loaded with plant protein, complex carbs and fiber. It’s vegan and gluten free and dairy free. You can use this curry for weeknight dinners as well as lunch boxes.  The flavors develop and it tastes amazing for days. And it freezes well too.

My childhood friend Sonia is from Jalandhar, Punjab. This heartland of India is famous for all North Indian / Punjabi food like Chole Bhature Matar Chat, Saag Paneer and Baingan Bharta.

Sonia’s mom makes heavenly food and she loves to feed all her friends that delicious food. This recipe is based on her Mom’s authentic traditional recipe with few tweaks and changes.

I love making Rajma Curry in InstantPot.  Traditionally, in India, stove top pressure cooker were used extensively to cook beans and lentils.  With electric pressure cooker,  making these heirloom dishes have become a breeze.

a ladle full of curry and red kidney beans getting scooped out of Instantpot.

HOW TO MAKE ONION TOMATO MASALA 

Onion tomato masala creates an irresistible flavor base for this curry. This masala is versatile in use. You can simmer any beans and lentils to make delicious curries. 

People often call it butter masala if butter is used instead of oil in the preparation.  Recipes for Butter chicken,  egg curry, lamb and goat curry – all use this spicy curry sauce.

To make onion tomato masala,  you sauté chopped onions til they become fragrant. Add minced garlic and ginger.  Stir and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin – coriander powder, turmeric powder and red chili powder to the instant pot. Stir and sauté for 2-3 more minutes.

Remove the mixture from the pot. Let it cool down.  Add little water and using the mixer,  grind it into smooth puree. Onion tomato masala is ready.

You can make a big batch and freeze this masala. Comes in very handy for quickly whipping up the curries and stews. And it thickens as you cook along.

There is no cream or thickener used in this recipe. You won’t miss it.

You can always mesh up some cooked beans for thicker curry sauce.

All the Indian curry fans out there, you must try this recipe. You will LOVE it. If you are new to Indian cooking, I am listing links for all the essential ingredients so you can easily whip up this delicious recipe.

Indian dinner with Rajma masala curry, white rice, garlic naan, carrot pickle, flaxseed chutney and cut onions served in ethnic looking copper containers.

SOAKED / UN-SOAKED / CANNED KIDNEY BEANS

I prefer to use soaked kidney beans for making Rajma Chawal.  Soaked beans cook to the perfection of melt in mouth softness.

If you are planning to use un-soaked dry beans, raise the cooking time by at least 15 minutes and increase the amount of water by 1 extra cup.

You can use canned kidney beans if you prefer. Drain the liquid from the can and rinse the beans under cold water. Canned kidney beans can be done in 6-8 minutes of cooking.

To soak the beans, wash and rinse them under cold water few times. Add 3-4 cups of water per 1 cup of beans.  Keep it covered for 4-6 hours or overnight.  Discard the soaking water and rinse the beans before using.

I have noticed that old beans don’t cook well whether it’s chickpeas,  kidney beans or others. Please check the packing date and use freshest beans possible.

Ethnic copper serving container full of Rajma curry garnished with juliened ginger and chopped cilatro leaves. White basmati rice , red onion and lemon wedges in the background for complete dinner serving.

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS OF RAJMA MASALA / KIDNEY BEANS CURRY?

Kidney Beans
Tomato Onion Masala
Bay leaves
Cinnamon stick
Turmeric Powder
Red Chili Powder
Garam Masala
Amchur powder
Kasuri Methi  ( dried fenugreek leaves)
Black tea bag – for rustic brown color
Salt
Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Rajma Chawal or Red beans and rice is popular weeknight meal. It’s filling, budget friendly,  lip smacking delicious and nutritious. It also is a popular item of lunch buffet menu in Indian restaurants. 

all the ingredients needed to make Rajma Curry gathered around on black granite countertop.

HOW TO MAKE RAJMA CHAWAL IN INSTANTPOT

Since beans take long amount of pressure cooking,  you can easily make white rice or brown rice using PIP (pot in pot method)

Prepare the curry mixture as suggested in the main insert. In a separate stackable container, prepare rice and water. Put the tall trivet in the main insert. And put the rice container over the trivet.

Close the lid. And choose BEAN setting. Rice and rajma cooks at once !!

a white serving plate with red beans curry and rice which is garnished with chopped red onions and cilantro leaves. There is carrot pickle and lemon wedges on the side. This comforting Indian meal is called Rajma Chawal or Red Beans and rice.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS OF MAKING INSTANTPOT RAJMA CURRY

  • Prepare onion tomato masala separately
  • Sauté the masala in oil along with the spices till oil separates.  ( this brings out intense flavors)
  • Add in kidney beans and tea bag and water.
  • Pressure cook the curry.
  • Discard the bay leaf, tea bag and cinnamon stick after it’s cooked.
  • Adjust the seasoning,  garnish with cilantro and serve. 

process shot collage displaying 4 major steps in making Rajma Curry in Instantpot.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR POPULAR CURRY AND RICE RECIPES. DO TRY THEM FOR EASY DELICIOUS DINNERS THAT WHOLE FAMILY CAN ENJOY. 

Baby Corn Masala

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Instantpot Aloo Matar – Potato Peas Curry

THAI CURRY FRIED RICE

TURMERIC LEMON RICE

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Rajma Masala - Kidney Beans Curry Recipe

Rajma Masala - Kidney Beans Curry Recipe

Rajma Masala - Indian Kidney beans curry. Make restaurant quality delicious wholesome curry at home using Instantpot or Stove top pressure cooker. Vegan and gluten free recipe.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Onion Tomato Masala

For Garnish

  • 1 fresh lemon quartered 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE RICE ALONG WITH THE CURRY

  • 1 cup washed and rinsed rice
  • 1-1.25 cup water

Instructions

INSTANTPOT INSTRUCTIONS :

TO MAKE ONION TOMATO MASALA

Plug in the instant pot and press SAUTE  mode and let it heat until it displays HOT.  Add oil and onions.  Saute for few minutes till they get translucent. Sprinkle some salt.

Add minced ginger and garlic. Stir and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin - coriander powder, turmeric and red chili powder to the instant pot. Stir and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Cancel Sauté.

Remove the mixture from the pot. Let it cool down.  Add little water and using the mixer,  grind it into smooth puree. Onion tomato masala is ready.

TO MAKE RAJMA CURRY

Start the InstantPot on SAUTE mode.  Add oil. Add bay leaves and cinnamon and saute for 30 seconds. Add onion tomato masala.  Add garam masala,  red chili powder,  amchur powder,  turmeric powder. Mix well and let the mixture come to bubbles.

Add the soaked rajma (KIDNEY BEANS), a tea bag and water to the instant pot. Stir it all up. Cancel SAUTE.

Place the trivet. In a bowl, add soaked rice and water and place the bowl on top of the trivet. Close the lid with vent in sealing position. Select "BEANS/ CHILLI 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 rice. Then take out the trivet. Remove and discard the tea bag, bay leaves and cinnamon. Add kasuri methi and lemon juice and stir the curry mixture. Garnish with cilantro. Rajma masala is ready. Serve warm with rice or roti.

STOVE TOP PRESSURE COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

Follow the same steps as above. Use the kadhai or frying  pan to sauté the onion tomato masala. Also do the tadka in kadhai. Transfer the rajma curry mixture to stovetop pressure cooker.

Cook on high heat for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.  Garnish and serve as mentioned above. 

Notes

BEAN setting defaults to 30 minutes of high pressure cooking on Instantpot.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 318mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g

Nutritional values are provided as a courtesy and the values are approximate. The values will change depending on the exact ingredients, measurements and brands used. As always, for specific health issues and dietary requirements please consult medical professional.

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