Rajma masala – a popular cuisine with south east Asian origins. Where red kidney beans are slow cooked into a thick stew that’s makes the ideal vegan dinner
Rajma masala is a popular Punjabi red bean curry dish amongst north Indians. The good this about this recipe is that it’s gluten free, vegan and incredibly tasty.
This is the perfect comfort meal to maintain positive health during the winter time. Although we are now headed towards spring I believe it is safe to say this dish can be eaten throughout the entire year.
Rajma masala – the quintessential ingredient
The star of the show here is of course the Rajma (red bean) the quintessential ingredient. Without the Rajma there would be no masala. What I like most about this meal is how easy it is to pull together, aside from having to soak the red beans overnight, if using dried beans, the remaining steps are very simple even for a novice.
Trust me if you are looking for a recipe to impress your friends and family with, that’s vegan and fragrant. I would highly recommend giving this wonderful Indian rajma masala dish a try.
Indian people are very similar to Caribbean folk in the respect that they enjoy serving many meals with rice.
Nowadays I’m slowly moving away from rice because of the bloated feeling it leaves me with. That’s not something I enjoy and where possible if it can be avoided, then hey why not.
Adding some spinach and sweet potatoes to rajma masala
I’m crazy for sweet potatoes, to the point I should nickname myself the sweet potato queen. There’s not a week that goes by where Charla doesn’t find a reason to incorporate those babies.
What I’m saying here is that the Rajma, in my world, is served with some sweet potatoes and spinach on the side. Yes I know it’s not traditional, but any avid reader would know I’m always breaking the culinary rules, so arrest me for committing the biggest crime in history……CREATIVITY!
How to make rajma masala
Don’t be intimidated by the long laundry list of spices, I promise if you follow my lead you will be left with an awarding winning red bean curry.
Toast the spices
As with most indian recipes toast or fry the spices firsty prior to adding any liquid or solid ingredients.
This method is used to allow the flavours from the spices to release and really penetrate during cooking.
Add the tomato and red beans
Once the spices have been added during the initial stages, then add the tomatoes, water and rajma (red beans). When the latter ingredients have been stirred in, cover the pot and allow to simmer down into an almost thickish stew texture.
The side servings – spinach and sweet potatoes
The side serving of sweet potatoes and spinach can be left to boil while the curry is simmering away. I found using frozen bundles of spinach work best. These firm bundles of spinach have a tendency not to wilt like fresh leaves.
I boiled the sweet potato and simply added the spinach half way through, you don’t need to add anything other than the water, as the flavour from the curry will compensate for the blandness.
Additional note for rajma masala
- Gluten free
- Vegan friendly
- Freezer friendly
- Canned beans can be used in place of dried beans
More bean stew/curry recipesPrint
Red bean curry (Rajma masala)
Dairy free, gluten free, vegan
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- 1 cup of pre soaked red kidney beans (rajma)
- 1 red large red onion, chopped
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/2 of a cinnamon stick
- 2 small cloves
- 1 tbsp. of garlic, minced
- 1tbsp of ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp. of coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of chilled powder or flakes
- 1tbsp of ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp of mango powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1tsp of garam masala
- 1 1/2 cups of crushed tomato
- salt accordingly to taste
- 2 cups of water
- fresh coriander to garnish
- 2 cups of sweet potato
- 2 bundles of frozen spinach
- Put the red kidney beans in a large pressure cooker or saucepan with 4-6 cups of water. Bring the pot to the boil and reduce to medium flame and allow to simmer for an hour or until the beans are tender. Replenish with more water if the beans begin to dry out, then set aside.
- Proceed with frying the bay leaf, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves, stirring until the bay leaf begins to darken in a large frying pan on medium heat.
- Move onto adding the garlic and onions, sautee until the onions are slightly brown and soft.
- Now add the rest of the spices (excluding the optional mango powder). By now the garlic and onions etc.. will have absorbed the oil, so this is more of a dry fry to release the aroma of the spices. Do this for 1-2 minutes, maximum.
- Stir and combine the crushed tomato with the spices, ginger and onions.
- Pour the two cups of water into the pan, use the water from the boiled rajma and add the red beans.
- Turn down the flame to low, adding the optional mango power if using.
- Season with salt and taste accordingly, cover with the lid and leave to simmer until the masala forms into a thickish stew – stir frequently – this should take 20 minutes.
- Prepare the vegetables by boiling the sweet potatoes until they begin to tenderise. Add the frozen spinach and steam until the bundles begin to separate – 2-4 minutes.
- Garnish masala with coriander and serve accordingly.