Rajma – Indian Style Kidney Beans

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Jammu Rajma

Has it ever happened to you, that you presented the idea of making the best dish from your hometown with so much enthusiasm that you could barely resist the urge to get going and make it but your baloon of excitement was burst with one simple “ Sure! But I don’t understand what the fuss is about this dish.”

A lightening strikes and then there is a deafening silence. While you scurry for an appropriate response, your mind is racing with responses that you want to utter in a thundering voice so high pitched that every crystal in the house could shatter. You want to tell the person in question that the big deal about this dish is the same big deal there is about sushi, kimchi, hand made pasta, hand tossed pizza, freshly made cheese, the good old BLT, crawfish boil and on and on. But        you         don’t. You are saying all this in your head, while trying to find a calm and composed response.

So you calm yourself and say, “I just want to make this for the guests coming over tonight and I have a feeling they might like it,” and leave it at that.


Then you slowly gather whatever is left of your enthusiasm and set to work. The delectable aromas wafting from the wok with the frying of onions and the boiling of the sauce help you get back in the zone and you forget the previous conversation ever happened.

rajma masala

 You finish cooking the main dish and the sides and set the table, air out the cooking aromas and light candles, select a sophisticated playlist, fluff the cushions and head over to get the last minute brushing done on your hair and apply a hurried lip gloss before the guests knock at the door.

Conversations happen, there is quiet laughter and some hearty laughs. There is sharing of food and wine and compliments galore and then one big voice that gushes “ Oh Now I understand what the fuss is all about!”

And you say out loud, “Well, Thank you!” and smile a sweet smile while secretly placing this in the part of mind that keeps track of all things he did wrong. Husband! You should have known better!


So dear reader’s let me tell you what the fuss is all about! This recipe is for red kidney beans from the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the states in India.  The kidney beans from this region are smaller in size, sweeter in taste and the texture is far more superior than the regular kidney beans. Also the process of cooking Rajma in Jammu region is different from the rest of the Northern India, even though the spices and ingredients used are almost the same. The first difference is  that Jammu style Rajma is cooked with a stick of cinnamon at the time of boiling them. The other major difference is that we use more onions than tomatoes in the dish and we make it in ghee and serve it with rice with ghee topped over it.  And if you can get hold of Rajma from Doda in Jammu, you got yourself a Beany jackpot!

Do try out and find out what the fuss is all about.


5 from 1 vote

Rajma – Indian Style Kidney Beans


  • 2 cups red kidney beans soaked in 8 cups of water for 8 hours or in hot water for 2 hours
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 tbs cumin coriander powder or 2 Tbs coriander +1 Tbs cumin powder
  • 3 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp mango powder amchoor
  • 1 tsp pomegranate seed powder anardana powder
  • 3 cloves slightly pounded
  • 3 cups sliced onions about 400 gms
  • 1 ½ Cups chopped tomatoes seeds removed
  • 2 tsp garam masala kashmiri preferred
  • 2 tbs minced ginger
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • ¼ C cilantro
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 6 Tbs ghee non negotiable
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tej patta Indian bay leaf


  1. Rinse the soaked kidney beans and put them into a pressure cooker along with 6 cups of water and the cinnamon.
  2. Put on medium- high heat and let it come to a boil before closing the lid of the pressure cooker.
  3. When the water starts boiling, close the pressure cooker, reduce heat to medium low and pressure cook for about 12 minutes.
  4. After 12 minutes, allow the pressure to gradually come down on its own. Place a do not disturb sign on it 😉 Once the pressure releases check if the beans are done. Perfectly cooked beans will hold their shape, but yield easily to pressure.
  5. Heat the ghee in a pan, when its hot add the cumin. Wait for it to crackle. Add in the bay leaf, cloves and then add in the onions and cook until the onions are browned.
  6. Add in the ginger garlic and cook until fragrant. Now, Add in the red chilli and the cumin coriander powder, stir to mix and add in the tomatoes.
  7. Reduce heat and cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. When this mix oozes the ghee out, add in the rest of spices, salt and add the beans in along with the broth.
  8. Stir to mix, bring to a rolling boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes on medium low heat.
  9. The ghee separates once again and the consistency look like you see in the picture.
  10. Finish with the cilantro, mix it in.
  11. To serve them how my peeps in Jammu do, take some fluffy basmati, ladel the rajma on top and put some hot ghee on top. Add in a sliced onion and green chillies and understand what the big deal about Rajma really is.

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Comments 12

  1. Your recipe has been my go to Rajma recipe for years. I’ve made it for guests all over the world. I thought I should write a little gratitude note for you. 🙂

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      Oh my God!! what a great compliment!! Thank you so much for writing in 🙂 and for trying the recipe! It’s why I love what I do!

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  2. Oh my god Anshie, Rajma is my absolute favorite comfort food. Infact I make it so much that I have turned my Coconut eating Maharashtrain husband into a Rajma fan. You are right, the way you have cooked Rajma is completely different then the way I do. I MUST try this recipe and tell you how it went. I am literally drooling on my computer…

  3. After making Chicken 65 a couple of times, I now find myself president of the Spice Roots fan club at my house. The members are going to love this recipe, especially my bean loving men.

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      You made me laugh so hard, Karen! President of the Spice Roots Fan Club! LOL! I am sure the members will love this dish, you are such an amazing cook!

  4. Good Morning dear……Rajma- my favorite dish….Looks so tempting…..u can’t resist the temptation of taking one spoonful of rajma-chawal whenever friends brought in their lunch boxes.
    Cold weather-rajma/chawal-a deadly combination;)
    Ur picture of Rajma is so tempting…..i am coming over to ur place to taste it Ansh.
    Will definitely try the Jammu version of Rajma-next time i am making it minus ‘GHEE’.

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  5. I love Rajma! Thankfully V does too. I grew up in a home where everyone disliked Rajma except my bro and I so we heard the ‘what’s the big deal’ everytime we requested for it. For me, Rajma-chawal is as comforting and soulful as my Varan-bhaat, all thanks to my childhood spent in Delhi where Rajma-chawal made a popular appearance in friends lunchboxes and was the fastest disappearing item at the school canteen. I can’t imagine enduring winter without a hot bowl of Rajma and your post makes me crave for a bowl right now.

    P.S. I loved the ‘non negotiable’ next to ghee. 😀 and my mom flipped seeing 3 kinds of Rajma in my pantry when she visited.

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      Ha ha ha!! You should have sent her over to see my pantry :)) and yes the ghee is completely non negotiable!!
      When my granny made rajma on sundays, we would wait for lunch to be served with bated breath :))

      1. I made your Rajma TWICE over the weekend, couldnt have enough of it! It is hands down the best I’ve ever had!!! I used to make it with Punjabi garam masala but your Kashmiri garam masala and Kashmiri chilli powder makes it heavenly delicious and so darn comforting at the same time. Please share your garam masala recipe, it plays a major role in getting this one and so many other recipes on Spiceroots perfect! I don’t think I will make Rajma any other way ever!

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