Red Kidney Bean Curry or Rajma

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


I had a half bag of dry red kidney beans in my cabinet & spontaneously decided to soak them overnight.  It produced 8 cups of soaked beans so this is a large quantity style recipe.  It is simple & delicious & pretty healthy.   And can be vegan.  If you make this giant quantity – freeze some up for future use on a lazy night.  Serve with some fluffy basmati rice & you have an easy Indian dinner.

As an aside – I had my red food dye out for my failed Tandoori Cauliflower and added a few drops to my Rajma – to boost the color.

Please pardon this deluge of Indian recipes.  I recently watched an incredible documentary called Blood Brother & it just got me craving Indian food.  If you get an opportunity – you MUST see this film.  It is devastating & inspiring at the same time.


Red Kidney Bean Curry or Rajma


8 cups red kidney beans – AFTER pre-soaking or quick soaking (method below) – or canned beans, drained & rinsed

I 6oz can tomato paste

2 tomatoes – diced – divided into two portions

3 jalapeno peppers – seeded

3 serrano peppers – seeded

2 onions

10 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp garam masala

3 TBS ground coriander

2 TBS ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

3 TBS ginger paste

6 TBS ghee or olive oil

Cilantro – diced fir garnish

Paprika as garnish

Salt to taste

Red food coloring (optional)



Soak your beans (probably about 5 cups dry) overnight or quick soak them.

Quick Soak

“Dried beans should be soaked in cold water overnight to ensure even cooking. But what if you didn’t plan ahead? Try this quick-soak method:

 Rinse beans in cold water. Put them in a large pot and cover with about 3 inches of cold water. Bring almost to a boil (small bubbles appear around the edges of the pot), cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 1 hour. Drain. The beans will be “soaked” and ready to cook.”

Puree ONE tomato & the tomato paste & 1 TBS water in a food processor.  Set aside.

Mince all the seeded peppers in the food processor with the ginger paste & the garlic.  Set aside.

Mince the onions in your food processor.


Heat the ghee or olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onions & saute until they soften.


Add the  minced garlic & ginger paste & pepper mix.  Saute a few minutes to blend then add the garam masala, coriander, cumin & turmeric.  Blend & then mix in the tomato paste blend.  Heat to just bubbling & reduce heat to low & saute, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.  Add the other diced tomato & the beans & 6 cups of water if using dried beans.  If using canned – start with two cups of water & see how that goes.  Add more if you need it – or cook it off if the curry is too thin.


I simmered my beans for a good two hours, covered & on low heat.  This isn’t required with canned beans.  Check your beans for your desired done-ness.   Add water if they are too thick. Increase heat & cook off water if they are too thin.  Add salt to taste.  Add red food coloring, if using – and blend.  Serve with rice & chopped cilantro & a sprinkle of paprika.



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