Rajma Chawal Recipe

Rajma Chawal isn’t just a dish – it’s a warm hug on a plate, a taste of tradition that has found its way into the hearts and kitchens of North Indian households. This classic dish brings together two simple yet powerful elements: creamy kidney bean curry and fluffy rice. The beauty lies in its unpretentious nature, offering a fulfilling meal that transcends generations.

Comfort in Every Bite: Imagine a bowl of tender kidney beans cooked to perfection, soaking up a rich tomato-based gravy infused with fragrant spices. The aroma alone is enough to summon memories of home and family gatherings. The curry’s velvety texture and the rice’s comforting fluffiness combine to create a culinary embrace that soothes both hunger and the soul.

A Cultural Connection: In North India, Rajma Chawal isn’t just about sustenance; it’s about heritage. This dish has long been a staple, gracing dining tables during festivals, celebrations, and everyday meals. Families bond over its preparation, passing down recipes and techniques from one generation to the next. It’s a symbol of togetherness, love, and the joy of sharing a home-cooked meal.

Rajma chawal

Rajma Chawal Ingredients

For Rajma Curry:

  • Kidney Beans (Rajma): A cup of dried kidney beans, soaked overnight.
  • Cooking Oil: About two tablespoons of any vegetable oil.
  • Onion: One large onion, finely chopped.
  • Garlic: Four to five cloves of garlic, minced.
  • Tomatoes: Two medium-sized tomatoes, chopped.
  • Spices: A teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, and turmeric powder.
  • Red Chili Powder: Half a teaspoon, or adjust to your spice preference.
  • Garam Masala: A pinch of garam masala for added flavor.
  • Salt: To taste, usually around a teaspoon.
  • Water: About three to four cups for cooking the curry.
  • Fresh Coriander: A handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.

For Rice:

  • Basmati Rice: A cup of long-grain basmati rice.
  • Water: Around two cups for cooking the rice.
  • Salt: About half a teaspoon for seasoning the rice.

Optional Additions and Variations:

  • You can add finely chopped green chilies for extra heat in the curry.
  • For a creamier curry, you can use a bit of fresh cream or yogurt.
  • If you like it tangy, squeeze in some lemon juice before serving.
  • To make it heartier, you can include boiled potatoes or paneer cubes in the curry.

This list of ingredients will help you create a delicious Rajma Chawal meal.

How to cook Rajma Chawal

1. Soaking and Preparing the Kidney Beans:

  • Begin by taking a cup of dry kidney beans.
  • Rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt.
  • Place the kidney beans in a bowl and cover them with water.
  • Let them soak overnight or for at least 6-8 hours. This helps them soften and cook faster.

2. Sautéing Onions, Garlic, and Spices:

  • Take a large cooking pot and heat a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil.
  • Add finely chopped onions and sauté them until they turn golden brown. This adds sweetness and flavor to the curry.
  • Drop in minced garlic and sauté for a minute until the aroma fills the air.
  • Add spices like cumin, coriander, and a touch of red chili powder. These spices give the curry its rich taste and warmth.

3. Adding Tomatoes and Cooking the Curry Base:

  • Dice a couple of fresh tomatoes and add them to the pot.
  • Cook the tomatoes until they break down and become soft. This forms the base of the curry.
  • Stir the mixture well to blend the flavors of the spices and tomatoes.

4. Adding Soaked Kidney Beans and Simmering:

  • Drain the soaked kidney beans that have plumped up during soaking.
  • Add the drained kidney beans to the pot and mix them with the tomato-spice base.
  • Pour enough water to cover the beans, ensuring there’s about an inch of water above them.
  • Let the mixture come to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. This allows the kidney beans to become tender and absorb the flavors.

5. Seasoning and Garnishing the Curry:

  • Once the kidney beans are soft and cooked, it’s time to season the curry.
  • Add salt to taste and a pinch of garam masala for a final burst of flavor.
  • Stir everything well to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed.
  • To enhance the aroma and taste, you can garnish the curry with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.

Now your kidney bean curry, or rajma, is ready to be enjoyed with steaming hot rice!

Cooking the Rice

Rice is the fluffy partner that makes Rajma Chawal a complete and satisfying meal. Follow these simple steps to cook perfect rice:

1. Rinsing and Soaking the Rice: Before you start cooking, give your rice a quick rinse. Place the rice in a bowl and wash it under cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch, leading to fluffier rice. After rinsing, let the rice soak in water for about 15-30 minutes. Soaking makes the rice grains absorb water and cook evenly.

2. Cooking the Rice with the Right Water-to-Rice Ratio: Once the rice has soaked, drain the water. For cooking, you’ll need the right balance of water and rice. A simple rule to remember is using 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. So, if you’re cooking 1 cup of rice, add 2 cups of water to the pot. Put the soaked rice and water in a pot, and bring it to a boil.

3. Fluffing the Cooked Rice to Ensure Lightness and Separation: After the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Avoid the temptation to peek – the steam trapped inside is what cooks the rice. Once the time is up, turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for another 5-10 minutes. This helps the rice finish cooking through gentle steam.

When you’re ready to serve, use a fork or a gentle spatula to fluff the rice. Gently separate the grains to prevent clumping. This step is crucial for achieving light and airy rice that complements the hearty rajma curry perfectly.

rajma and chawal

Serving and Pairing

Serving Rajma Chawal is like creating a delicious harmony on your plate. Here’s how to make it even better:

1. Traditional Accompaniments: When you enjoy Rajma Chawal, it’s a great idea to pair it with some traditional sidekicks. These are like the supporting actors that make the main dish shine:

  • Pickle: A little bit of pickle on the side adds a tangy twist. It’s like a flavor booster that complements the rich taste of Rajma Chawal.
  • Yogurt: A dollop of yogurt is like a cool friend that balances out the spices. It adds a creamy touch and cools down your taste buds.
  • Papad: Imagine a crispy, thin papad that you can break and nibble on. It’s a crunchy companion that adds a bit of fun to your meal.

2. Refreshing Beverages: Just like Rajma Chawal and its friends, your drink can also be a perfect match. Here are two refreshing choices:

  • Buttermilk: This is like a chilled hug for your tummy. Buttermilk is light and helps you feel refreshed after a flavorful meal.
  • Lassi: Lassi is like a dessert in a glass. It can be sweet or salty, and it’s a lovely way to balance out the spiciness.

So, when you serve Rajma Chawal, don’t forget these pals that make the experience even more delightful.

Cooking Tips for Best Flavor and Texture

  1. Soak the Kidney Beans Well: Before cooking, soak the kidney beans for at least 6-8 hours or overnight. This helps them cook faster and become tender.
  2. Saute the Spices First: When you start cooking the curry, sauté the spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala in oil. This wakes up their flavors and makes the dish more aromatic.
  3. Slow-Cook the Curry: Let the kidney beans simmer in the tomato-onion base for a while. This slow-cooking process allows the flavors to meld together and makes the curry richer.
  4. Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic give your curry a lively taste. If possible, avoid using canned ingredients.
  5. Adjust Salt and Spices: Taste as you go and adjust the amount of salt and spices accordingly. It’s easier to add more than to fix an overly salty or spicy dish.
Rajma Chawal Variations 
  • Rice Variety: Instead of plain white rice, try using basmati rice for an aromatic touch. It adds an extra layer of fragrance to the dish.
  • Mixed Beans: Combine different types of beans like black beans or pinto beans with kidney beans. This adds color and texture variety to the curry.
  • Veggie Delight: Add diced carrots, peas, or bell peppers to the curry. These veggies not only bring in extra nutrients but also contribute a delightful crunch.
  • Creamy Addition: For a creamy twist, stir in a spoonful of yogurt or cream into the curry just before serving. It adds a rich and velvety texture.
  • Herb Magic: Garnish with fresh cilantro or mint leaves. These herbs add a burst of freshness and a lovely green color to your dish.

kidney beans curry


What is Rajma Chawal?

  • Rajma Chawal is a popular North Indian dish consisting of red kidney beans cooked in a thick, flavorful gravy, served with steamed basmati rice. It is a staple comfort food in many Indian households.

What are the key ingredients used in Rajma Chawal?

  • The main ingredients used in Rajma Chawal are red kidney beans (rajma), rice (chawal), onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and fresh cilantro for garnishing.

Can I use canned kidney beans instead of dried ones for Rajma Chawal?

  • Yes, you can use canned kidney beans as a convenient alternative to dried beans. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly before using to remove any excess sodium or preservatives. Adjust the cooking time accordingly since canned beans are already cooked.

How long does it take to cook Rajma Chawal?

  • The cooking time for Rajma Chawal can vary depending on the method used. If using dried kidney beans, they typically need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for about 45 minutes to an hour until they are tender. The overall preparation and cooking time can take around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Can I make Rajma Chawal in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

  • Yes, Rajma Chawal can be easily prepared in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker for a quicker cooking time. Using these appliances can significantly reduce the cooking time of both the kidney beans and the rice, making it a convenient option for busy individuals.

What are the accompaniments or side dishes that go well with Rajma Chawal?

  • Rajma Chawal is often served with various accompaniments such as raita (yogurt-based condiment), pickles, papad (crispy lentil crackers), and a salad of cucumber and onion. These side dishes complement the flavors of the dish and add freshness and texture to the meal.

Can I make Rajma Chawal ahead of time or freeze the leftovers?

  • Yes, you can make Rajma Chawal ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 2-3 days in advance. The flavors tend to develop and intensify over time. Leftovers can also be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat thoroughly before serving.

Can I make a vegan version of Rajma Chawal?

  • Absolutely! Rajma Chawal can be easily made vegan by omitting ghee (clarified butter) and using oil for cooking. Ensure that the spice mixes and other ingredients used are also vegan-friendly. The dish retains its delicious flavors even in a vegan preparation.
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