Recipe for Rajma Chawal

Rajma and Jeera rice

Recipe for Rajma Chawal

Rajma means Kidney beans. In India, Rajma is usually cooked as a gravy dish and is served with rice. It is quite popular, especially in northern India, and is generally cooked on weekends for lunch, when the entire family sits together and eats a meal. During winter, piping hot Rajma served with freshly cooked basmati rice tastes even better. People usually pair it with salad and a pickle of their choice.

Kidney beans are a great source of protein, and when cooked in ghee (fat) and served with rice( a gluten-free source of carbohydrates) and salad (Vitamins and minerals), it makes a complete dish. It is nutritious and delicious. 

In Germany, where I live presently, I still keep with the tradition of making either Rajma Chawal or Kadi Chawal on the weekends. It reminds me of my childhood days and brings back many pleasant memories.

Let us start with the recipe:

I am breaking the recipe into three parts:

  1. Preparing Rajma
  2. Preparing Jeera Rice
  3. Preparing a simple salad that can be used as an accompaniment.

PART 1: Preparing Rajma

Ingredients needed for making Rajma:

  1. Rajma (Kidney beans): 1 cup, soaked overnight.
  2. Water: About 8 cups in total
  3. Salt: To taste
  4. Ghee: 2 tablespoons
  5. Bay Leaves: 1-2
  6. Cumin Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  7. Onion: 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
  8. Tomato, Ginger and garlic paste: From 1 medium-sized tomato and 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped ginger and garlic.
  9. Green Chilies: 2-3, finely chopped
  10. Turmeric Powder: 1 teaspoon
  11. Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: 1 teaspoon
  12. Dry Mango Powder: 3/4 teaspoon
  13. Coriander Powder: 1 teaspoon
  14. Garam Masala: 1/2 teaspoon
  15. Kasuri Methi ( Dry fenugreek leaves): 1 tablespoon
  16. Fresh Coriander leaves: finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons

Method for making Rajma:

  1. Start with cooking the kidney beans. Transfer the soaked kidney beans into a pressure cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add about 3-4 cups of water and cook it completely. It takes about 20-30 minutes to cook kidney beans in a pressure cooker on medium heat. To check whether the beans are fully cooked, take a bean and press it between your fingers. If it mashes easily, it means it is fully cooked. Else, cook further.
    If you are using canned kidney beans, there is no additional cooking of kidney beans needed. You need not do step 1. Directly go to step 2.


  2. In a pan, heat the ghee. Add bay leaves, green chillies and cumin seeds.


  3. When the cumin seeds crackle, add onions and fry them till they brown a bit.


  4. Then add tomatoes, ginger and garlic paste.


  5. Add the masalas (spices)- Turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, dry mango powder, coriander powder and salt. Reduce the heat. Fry for about 15 seconds. If the mixture looks too dry, add a bit of water. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and cook for about 5-6 minutes.


  6.  Transfer this fried mixture to the cooked kidney beans in the pressure cooker. Add some water if it looks too thick. Add Garam Masala and Kasuri Methi ( dry Fenugreek leaves).


  7. Close the lid and pressure cook everything together for about 5-6 minutes.
    After 5-6 minutes, take the cooker off the heat. Open the lid after the pressure is released.


  8.  Now remove and garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

PART 2: Preparing Jeera Rice

Ingredients for Jeera rice:

  1. Basmati Rice: 2 cups, soaked for 30 minutes
  2. Ghee: 1 tablespoon
  3. Salt: 1 teaspoon
  4. Jeera (Cumin Seeds): 1 1/2 teaspoons
  5. Water: 4 cups

Method to make Jeera Rice:

  1. Heat ghee in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle.


  2. Add water and salt and let it come to a boil.


  3. Then add the rice.


  4. Pressure cook it till the rice is cooked.

    jeera rice

PART 3: Preparing a simple salad

Ingredients and Method for making a salad that goes well with Rajma Chawal:

Cut onions, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, or any salad veggie that you have in your fridge. Add salt and lime juice to the salad veggies and serve with Rajma Chawal.

Rajma goes best with Basmati Rice. However, it can be paired with roti or chapati too. In addition, you can serve it with any north Indian pickle made out of raw mangoes, lemon, etc. It is your choice!

Here is the prepared jeera rice with rajma.

Rajma with jeera rice

Some notes for my readers in Germany:

  1. As mentioned earlier, you can use dry kidney beans or canned beans in this recipe. Dry kidney beans are easily available in Indian/Asian shops. You can get them in supermarkets too. They come in wide varieties. Any type will do for this recipe.
  2. Some of the spices mentioned in the recipe are available in German supermarkets. All the spices are easily available in Indian shops. The best brand for spices in Indian shops is MDH.
  3. You can buy basmati rice in German supermarkets and Asian shops. If you cook rice often, you can buy a 5kg/10 kg pack of basmati rice from Indian shops. In Indian shops, you get many more choices, which are cheaper if you buy 5kg/10kg packs. The best brand of basmati rice available in Germany, in my experience, is HEER.
  4. The thumb rule for buying any rice is: the older it is, the better. So, check the date of manufacture and packaging and buy accordingly. Always wash the rice before use. Soak rice for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking.

Click here to read more recipes from my kitchen.

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