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Rajma Masala Indian Vegan Kidney Bean Curry

Rajma masala, a thick & rich vegan red kidney bean curry from Northern India and Pakistan featuring beans in a generously spiced gravy.

This rich and thick curry to my mind is “dal” dialled up to 11 and is the perfect meat free meal!

Overhead Rajma masala kidney bean curry served with kachumber salad.

Red Kidney Bean Curry.

Rajma masala is one of the lesser-known curries from the North of India, it is essentially a kidney bean curry.

In many ways it is similar to a dal, although I personally think it is much more interesting.

I have had a glorious time developing this rajma recipe and it has quickly become one of my favourites.

As a Brit I was bought up with chicken tikka masala and chicken balti. But there were a few homestyle Indian dishes I ate at friends homes growing up.

A rajma masala curry is one of those homestyle recipes much like an egg curry or vegetable karahi!

It features a thick and rich tomato gravy flavoured with fennel, onion and mustard seeds along side curry leaves and slit chillies.

These flavours are supported by fenugreek, asafoetida, turmeric, coriander and garam masala in a perfect blend.

Indian rajma masala kidney bean curry served with kachumber salad.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can I use canned beans?

You can, but I have tested them a number of times and they have always been somewhat disappointing in this rajma masala curry recipe. The cooking liquid adds a great deal to the recipe and the cooking juices in the tin are just not the same.

I have created a butter bean curry with tinned beans in mind that you may want to check out!

If you want to hurry things up a little you can cook your beans in a pressure cooker.

Can this be prepared in advance?

Yes, this recipe will last for between 3 and 5 days in the fridge. This rajma masala curry actually taste better after a couple of days.

If you are planning to cook this in advance you must try and cool the beans as quickly as possible. This is because doing so prevents the development of bacteria. I usually spread them out on a baking tray and refrigerate them as soon as possible.

What are onion seeds?

Onion seeds go by many names, they are also known as nigella or kalonji seeds.

I use them fairly often in Indian food, in dishes as diverse as my onion bhajis to my chicken Chettinad.

They have a mild onion flavour and a lovely crunch. But be careful not to burn them because they can become bitter.

What is tomato passata?

Passata is an “Italian” tomato product that consists of sieved tomatoes, that’s it. In the US it is often called tomato sauce, read the label and just double check there is no added salt, sugar or other flavourings.

Close up rajma masala kidney bean curry served with kachumber salad.

Serving Suggestions.

Rajma masala is traditionally served with rice and some flatbread or with rice, it then becomes rajma chawal.

That flatbread would ordinarily be some form or roti, although I prefer it with my tandoori naan bread. The thicker sauce is just nicer with a naan I find.

However, of late, I have also been serving this with a crisp and minty kachumber salad because it lightens the dish and makes it feel fresh.

It also works really well with a cucumber and mint raita especially if you want to temper the chilli!

Indian vegan rajma masala kidney bean curry served with kachumber salad.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • Bowl for soaking the beans.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • Grater.
Indian vegan rajma masala kidney bean curry served with kachumber salad.
Yield: 2 Servings

Rajma Masala Curry Recipe

Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

This rajma masala curry is a classic hbonmestyle Indian vegan curry featuring kidney beans in a spiced tomato sauce!


  • 150g (⅔ Cup) Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Onion
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 8 Curry Leaves
  • ¼ Tsp Asafoetida
  • 1 Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • ¼ Tsp Black Onion Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 35g (Thumb Sized Piece) Ginger
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 300ml (1¼ Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ½ Tsp Ground Coriander
  • ½ Tsp Ground Fenugreek
  • ½ Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • ~½-1 Tsp Salt
  • Generous Pinch of Sugar


  1. Cover the beans in cold water and allow to soak for at least 3 hours.
  2. Place the beans in a 20cm or 8" saucepan and cover them with 3 times the volume of water.
  3. Sprinkle over the turmeric and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 60-90 minutes or until the beans have softened.
  5. Peel and cut the onion in half, then slice it into 2-3mm (⅛") thick half-moon shapes.
  6. Cut the chilli peppers in half lengthways.
  7. When the beans are cooked drain them reserving 125ml (½ Cup) of the cooking liquid.
  8. Heat the oil in a 20cm or 8" saucepan over a medium heat.
  9. Add the mustard, fennel and onion seeds, along with the asafoetida, slit chillies and curry leaves to the oil.
  10. Stir and as soon as the seeds start popping add the sliced onions, then cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  11. Peel and grate the ginger.
  12. Peel and mash the garlic.
  13. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and cook for 60 seconds.
  14. Throw in the chilli, fenugreek, coriander and garam masala powders and stir to coat.
  15. Pour in the tomato passata and the reserved cooking water from the beans.
  16. Season with salt and sugar to taste.
  17. Stir and add the beans, reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  18. Crush some of the beans on the side of the pan with the back of a fork before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 314mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 9gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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