Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans

“India is probably the best country in the world, both scenic and peaceful, it truly is god’s country.” -K. Bryant

Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans
How to make Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Indian spiced kidney beans that taste like the dish you get at Vaishno Devi dhaba’s.

Rajma, one of my all time favorite comfort foods! This dish served with rice is such a simple yet popular meal in most North Indian households. When I was younger, I remember my Dad and I would tell my mom to make us Rajma almost every week. Soft red kidney beans in a savory/spicy tomato and onion curry that I slow cook to ensure it tastes “just like my moms”. However my favorite memory of this delicious dish is not at home, of a friends recipe, or even at a fine dining restaurant. The most incredible Rajma I have ever experienced was at a local dhaba  (street food vendor) on the foothills of the Himalayas.

Kashmiri Rajma [creamy kidney beans]

Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans

Flashback to Summer of 99′. My parents had taken my brother and I to India for 2 months. Our usual and only stop in India was Bombay, but that summer was different… our parents wanted us to experience India as much as possible in two months. We were lucky enough to tour the beautiful beaches of Goa, drive-thru the lush acres of Khandala, see the spiritual sites of Shirdi, appreciate the city planning of Chandigarh, roam in the shopping districts of Delhi, and best of all, experience the serenity and beauty of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans
We had gone to visit one of the highest temples in the world in Jammu and Kashmir (at the foothills of the Himalayas), which is at an altitude of 5,200 feet. After our pilgrimage, on our way out of the city, we stopped at a local dhaba to eat. The aroma of the fresh food and spices filled the crisp mountain air. Their specialty: Kashmiri Rajma.  As our food order came we began to relish the long red kidney bean curry. They seemed to just melt in our mouths with the perfect amount of spices. We enjoyed the Rajma so much that my mom actually bought a bag of the dried red kidney beans from the dhabe wala, food vendor himself.

Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans

Kashmiri Rajma come out best when you are able to soak the beans for at least 4-5 hours prior to cooking them. I usually soak them over night. While I usually make Kashmiri Rajma with dark red kidney beans, I am sure this recipe would be just as good with the light pink kidney beans. If you’re using canned beans boil the beans (doubling water amount for how much beans you have) for at least 8 minutes before the tempering.

Kashmiri Rajma [creamy kidney beans]Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans

This recipe was originally posted in 2011. Since then it has been featured in BuzzFeed, Prevention Magazine and other publications. It also a won chef’s choice award during a charity cookoff for Hurricane Sandy, hosted by Brooklyn Brewery. Pictures have since been updated.

Kashmiri Rajma is made a little differently in every household, some use onions some don’t. My recipe is a mix of how my mom makes it along with some tips she got from the dhabe wala (street food vendor) where we happened to try the best Rajma we had ever experienced.

Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
How to make Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Indian spiced kidney beans that taste like the dish you get at Vaishno Devi dhaba’s.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of dark red kidney beans; dry
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup red onion; diced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 finely chopped green chili (serrano or birds eye)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika or kashmiri red chili powder (this has no heat, only flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt / adjust to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil; I use light olive
Method
  1. Wash and soak the kidney beans in water for 4-5 hours or overnight. Strain the beans and place in a pressure cooker with the turmeric powder and 6 cups of water. Pressure cook the beans for one whistle and then set to medium heat, let cook for 20-25 minutes until the beans become soft. If using an Instant pot, pressure on manual mode vent off for 20 minutes and let pressure naturally release. Keep the beans on low heat allowing them to slow cook.
  2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sputter add the onions and green chili. Once the onions turn translucent, add the crushed tomatoes, half of the chopped cilantro, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, kashmiri red chili powder, and red chili powder. Cook until the spices are incorporated with the mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooked kidney beans and using an immersion blender; blend everything to a thick paste.
  3. In a bowl add the yogurt, salt and a few spoons of the hot masala paste mixture. Mix well, add the masala paste and the yogurt mix to the kidney beans.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes or use the sauté function on the IP for 7 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust of needed. Add the garam masala and set heat on low and stir in between until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency, about 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve hot with rice, roti, or naan.
Notes
For a thicker gravy, take ½ cup of the pressured kidney beans with their water and grind into a paste before adding back to the gravy.

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Enjoy!

34 thoughts on “Kashmiri Rajma | Creamy Kidney Beans

  1. Yum…when do we eat?
    You know I am just crazy over Rajma…so nice to see you also like them and are becoming an amazing cook my daughter. Love you…Dad 🙂

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  3. This looks wonderful and I’ve never had anything like it. I’m trying to get more familiar with Indian cuisine. My grandma is Italian on one side and German on the other, so not much of this in my house growing up. I can’t wait to explore more.

    1. I think it’s awesome that you are experimenting with Indian flavors… I saw the Tandoori Chicken post you wrote 🙂 That’s one of my favorite dishes that my Dad makes <3

      1. Hey! I am not sure what the masala paste is. Is it the paprika mixed with the yogurt? Also, when do I add the beans to the mixture? I am making this dish as I type this :p – D
        Thank you!!

        1. Hi, which step are you stuck on? Do you mean the masala paste when you mash the rajma?

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  5. I went to Kashmir and I believe we stopped at the same exact place! They were known for their Rajma. It was the best Rajma I’ve ever tasted too!

    1. Hello Dhruvi, Thank you for your thoughtful comment (or concern). I am aware there are two versions of how to make this recipe. A stattvic version and my version that I have shared. Indian cuisine was built on the backs of our grandmothers so everyone’s “Authentic” version varies. I hope you will keep this in mind while searching for recipes on the internet.

  6. Hi Nisha,
    I tried your Kashmiri Rajma recipe and by far THIS IS THE BEST RAJMA RECIPE, i ever came across. It is so damn flavorful. Thanks a lot for sharing…love love love.
    Keep sharing more…and i follow you on IG and love love love you.

  7. Hi! This sounds and looks delicious! I’m looking forward to making this, but I do not have a pressure cooker, IP, or immersion blender. How might I be able to make this without those?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi you can search Rajma and I have a canned version on my blog that will have a similar result

  8. I’m looking for a way to make this recipe vegan as well. Do you have a good recommendation for switching out the yogurt/is there something else I can replace it with?

  9. I see where you used the red chili powder in the recipe but I don’t see when you add the Kashmiri lal mirch. At what point in time are you supposed to add them while cooking? I did make the recipe and it turned out yum. Thank you.

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