Rajma (Kidney Beans) in Indian Cooking: Things to Know

Rajma or Kidney Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a common dried bean or a legume. Due to an uncanny resemblance to the human kidney, it is known as kidney beans.

This is an artificial process that is done with a variety of beans. It was done about 8000 years ago in Central America by some indigenous tribes.

Today it is an essential part of the diet in Indonesian, Spanish, South American, Caribbean, and India.

There are four types of kidney beans: red kidney beans (Rajma in India), white kidney beans, light-speckled kidney beans, and red-speckled kidney beans.

What is Rajma (Kidney Bean)?

Rajma (Kidney Beans) in Indian Cooking

Kidney beans or Rajma are a type of legume that belongs to the common bean family, scientifically known as Phaseolus vulgaris.

They are so named because of their shape, which resembles a kidney. Kidney beans are a popular food around the world and are commonly used in many dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and chili.

They are a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to a healthy diet.

Uses of Rajma in Indian Cuisines

Rajma is one of the staple dishes of North Indians and Maharashtrians. When cooked it is presented as a delicious vegetarian curry which is almost synonymous with the name of the bean.

Rajma which is a Hindi word for kidney beans also features as the name of the dish. The “red kidney beans in spiced gravy” or Rajma Masala is a famous dish produced by this bean.

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The rajma that is available in the Indian market simply are unique black rajma, small white colored kidney beans, streaked colored beans, and deep dark maroon red rajma. The size of the beans also varies from medium to large.

When you set your mind to cook rajma, make sure that you soak it for 6 hours or more. It will be easy for you to boil and make the preparation without any hassle.

Rajma Masala

Rajma masala can be prepared in various ways. You can prepare it in your style, restaurant style, and even in Punjabi or Maharashtrian ways. The concept is the same but the way you cook it can be different.

The main rationale behind this dish is how much spice you are adding to this entire dish. This delectable dish is made up of tomatoes, onions, and spices. Just an important tip for this recipe is that you need to soak the rajma for at least 8 to 9 hours.

Then boil the rajma for 15 to 20 mins. In the meantime cut all the tomatoes, and onions and make a ginger-garlic paste.

Then in a pan put some oil or butter/ghee and add jeera into it. Let the jeera crackle and add the chopped onions and sauté it for some time.

Then add the tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste eventually. After this add all the spices and cook it for some time.

Then add the rajma and stir fry it very well. When you see the oil getting separated from the masala then add some water and cook until it comes to a boil.

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Turn off the heat as the gravy is ready and garnish with coriander leaves. You can serve this dish with roti, rice, and even parathas.

Other than this you can also make salads, fry them with scrambled eggs and even add them to various mixed dal recipes.

But to be honest rajma masala is considered the prime dish made with rajma, especially in Indian cuisine.

How Does Kidney Bean Taste?

Kidney beans have a mild, earthy flavor with a slightly sweet taste.

The texture of kidney beans is firm and smooth, making them a popular ingredient in many different cuisines around the world.

When cooked properly, kidney beans should be tender but not mushy.

How to Boil Rajma?

Here is a simple method for boiling rajma:


  • 1 cup of rajma (kidney beans)
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt to taste


  • Rinse the rajma beans thoroughly under running water and soak them overnight in enough water to cover them completely.
  • After soaking, discard the water and rinse the rajma beans again under running water.
  • Add 4 cups of water and the soaked rajma beans to a pressure cooker or a deep pot.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • If using a pressure cooker, cook on high heat for 5-6 whistles or until the beans are tender. If using a pot, bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for about 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender.
  • Once the rajma beans are cooked, turn off the heat and let them cool down in the pot or pressure cooker itself.
  • Once the pressure is released from the cooker, open the lid, and check the tenderness of the beans.
  • The boiled rajma beans are now ready to use in your favorite recipes.
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Questions & Answers:

What is the Best Way to Eat Rajma?

The best way to eat rajma is to make masala curry out of it. You can simply eat it with rice – known as “rajma chawal”.

How Long Should Rajma Be Soaked?

Rajma needs to be soaked for 8 to 9 hours.

Should We Add Salt While Boiling Rajma?

Yes, you can add salt and all sorts of spices like turmeric, coriander, jeera, and even garam masala so that the raw smell of the beans goes away easily.

What is Rajma Called in Different Languages?

Rajma is a Hindi word and it is known as “Kidney Beans” in English.


Rajma, or Kidney Beans, are a type of legume that is rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

It is an essential part of the diet in many countries, including India, Spain, and Indonesia.

Rajma Masala is a popular dish made with Rajma, and there are many ways to prepare it.

Kidney beans have a mild, earthy flavor and a firm and smooth texture. To boil Rajma, it needs to be soaked for 8 to 9 hours and cooked with salt and spices.

The best way to eat Rajma is to make masala curry out of it, or it can be eaten with rice, known as “rajma chawal.”

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