Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry)

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This recipe for rajma, an Indian kidney bean curry, is a family favorite. And it is so easy to make in an instant pot!

Instant Pot Rajma Indian Kidney Bean Curry

What is Rajma?

Think melt-in-your-mouth kidney beans coated in a thick onion and tomato masala gravy and loaded with flavor. I’m not sure there’s anything more comforting than a bowl of rajma chawal (rajma and rice).

Rajma is a red kidney bean curry that’s typically served with basmati rice hence the words rajma chawal. For those of us who are Punjabi, these two words go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Not only is this recipe extremely economical thanks to the dried kidney beans, but it’s also great for those following a gluten-free or vegan diet.

I’m Punjabi, and so as a child, this dish was in our regular dinner rotation. The funny thing is that back then, I loathed rajma. It was nothing compared to butter chicken, my childhood dish of choice. But now, if you were to ask me to choose between the two, I think I’d pick rajma (ugh, tough choice, though). It’s a dish that makes me feel nostalgic, and I find it so, so delicious. I relish every bite.

It wasn’t until I left home and went off to college that I started to miss my mom’s rajma. I still remember the look of surprise on my mom’s face when I asked her to make it for me – not kidding when I say her jaw dropped. It’s funny how things you don’t care for as a child end up being dishes you love. I feel the same way about bitter melon (karela) – hated it back in the day, absolutely love it now.

Instant Pot Rajma Indian Kidney Bean Curry

Should I soak kidney beans?

This always seems to be a controversial topic. I know many people feel pretty strongly over whether or not to soak legumes, but I think many Indian families soak beans/legumes before cooking. I partially do it out of habit (it’s what my mom taught me and what my grandmother taught her) and because I think it makes the beans easier to digest. You decide what is best for you, but please know that you will need to cook the kidney beans for longer than the time listed in my recipe if you use unsoaked beans. My method results in perfectly soft and tender kidney beans.

In addition to increasing the cook time – another thing to keep in mind if you decide not to soak the beans is that you’ll likely have to add more water to the recipe as soaked kidney beans absorb water. If you decide to use unsoaked kidney beans, then let us know how it goes.

One last thing about kidney beans – they contain a high level of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin (yeah, that’s a mouthful) – this lectin is destroyed if you cook the beans long enough. Eating kidney beans that aren’t properly cooked can cause some pretty bad stomach/GI issues – another reason to either soak the rajma or cook them longer.

Instant Pot Rajma Indian Kidney Bean Curry

If you love this Punjabi dish, then chances are you’ll love my recipe for Punjabi chole too, so give that a try next!

Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry)

Instant Pot Rajma Indian Kidney Bean Curry

Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry)

Growing up with two Punjabi parents, this dish was in our regular dinner rotation. These melt-in-your-mouth kidney beans are coated in thick masala gravy, and they’re loaded with flavor. This dish is typically served with basmati rice.
If you’d like to make this using my onion masala, use 1 cup of onion masala and omit the onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Just add the onion masala in step 5 with the kidney beans and water.
4.94 from 33 reviews
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Servings 6
Cuisine Indian

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups dried kidney beans soaked overnight
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • ½ Serrano pepper or green chili
  • 3 tablespoons oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger

Spices

 

  • 2 cups fresh tomato puree approx. 1 pound tomatoes OR 1 cup onion masala* see notes
  • 2 cups water
  • Cilantro garnish

Instructions
 

  • Soak the kidney beans in cold water overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Add the onion and green chili to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Press the sauté button. Add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the cumin seeds and once they become brown, add the blended onion and Serrano pepper to the pot and stir-fry for 8-10 minutes, or until the onion mixture begins to brown.
  • Add the bay leaf, garlic, ginger, and spices and stir quickly, then add the pureed tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the kidney beans and water.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 30 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

Video

Notes

  • If you decide not to soak the kidney beans, you will need to add more water to the recipe as soaked kidney beans absorb some water. You’ll also need to adjust the cook time and cook the unsoaked beans longer. I haven’t tested this recipe using unsoaked kidney beans (as I always soak legumes); however, if you try, please leave a comment letting us know!
  • If you’d like to make this using my onion masala, use 1 cup of onion masala and omit the onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Just add the onion masala in step 5 with the kidney beans and water.

Nutrition

Calories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 16gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1007mgPotassium: 1276mgFiber: 12gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 621IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 6mg
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About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

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Comments

  1. Sara says

    This site is a lifesaver! I’m a vegetarian and need help with pulses and beans. Just got an electric pressure cooker and this makes me feel confident about using it.
    Thank you!
    I have a question, how big is the pot you’re using and how many does this serve?

  2. Kriti says

    5 stars
    As always your Insta-recipe saved the day for me! After a long day of work, your quick and yummy recipes are the best to cook, loved by my family. This soaked rajma with onion masala was no exception! I added a little unsalted butter at the end to add that silky smooth gravy. Also I would like to thank you for introducing the ‘onion masala’, master hack of desi curries, to us!!

  3. Preetha says

    5 stars
    This was a great recipe and so, so easy to put together! The only thing I did differently was to cook it for an hour simply because I like the beans to be super soft. The next time, I think I’ll add some cumin powder.

    Thanks, Ashley, for another great recipe! 😊

  4. Sibi says

    Hi Ashley. I love all your recipes. Thank you for making Indian cooking so much easier. Quick question, i have some canned organic Kidney beans. Can I make this recipe with the canned beans and if so how long should I cook it for? thanks much.

    • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Sibi! I haven’t tried this with canned rajma, but since canned beans are already cooked I would try reducing the cook time – to maybe 10 minutes, to help the other flavors come together well. Let me know if you try this and how it goes!

  5. Flanny says

    5 stars
    I made the rajma with pre-made onion masala – it turned out great! I made double the quantity thinking I would try to freeze some but it all got eaten.
    I used unsoaked beans and double the quantity so I followed the commenter above and did 75 min in instant pot.l, but it needed another 10 minutes (i added another half cup of water as well when I did the additional time).

  6. Dipti says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley, I loved your recipes. I have one question. I happen to soaked much more Rajma. Do you know how to preserve soaked Rajma until I cook them again?

    Thank you in advance

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