Easy Recipes 1: Red Bean Curry (Indian Rajma)

When I first came to US in 2006, I was a 1st grader in the art of cooking. Somehow, I managed to cook a few recipes that mother had taught me before leaving India. I have to admit, I did not like cooking then. Today is a completely different story.

A few weeks ago, I read “how to cook & fail miserably” a brilliantly written post by one of my younger brother’s friend. And I was reminded of my first year as a student in a foreign land. Things are very different when you start living away from home. There are many new things to learn (along with courses at school) & cooking is one of them. Red Bean curry or Rajma is the easiest lunch/dinner dish for students coming from India with little cooking experience. I am going to try my best to note down all the steps & some tips in case something goes wrong (with the taste & not burnt food or fire at your place ;)).

Mandatory ingredients – 2 Canned red beans, 2-3 Tomatoes, 1 Onion, Turmeric powder, Garam Masala powder.

Good to have ingredients (for better taste) – 2-3 cloves of Garlic, 5-6 thai green chilies (you can use 2-3 Jalapeños as well), Red chili powder, Coriander powder, Lemon juice.


  1. Chop all the vegetables (small pieces if possible) & keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in pan. You can add little bit of Jeera (whole Jeera & not the powder) to check if it’s heating.
  3. Add Garlic & Green chillies to the hot oil.
  4. When you see Garlic turning a little brown, add onion to the pan.
  5. Once onion turns pinkish or transparent, add tomatoes. You can add both onions & tomatoes together if you like.
  6. Let the tomatoes cook for 2 mins & add 1/2 cup of water.
  7. Add salt (according to taste) , 1/2 spoon Tumeric powder, 1/2 spoon or more red chili powder, 1/2 spoon coriander powder & 1/2 spoon Garam Masala. Look at the picture below for spoon size. You can approximate accordingly.
  8. Open the cans of red beans & strain out the liquid. I prefer not to use it.
  9. Mix the red beans with sautéed veggies.
  10. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to soak the beans in gravy. Here we are trying to immerse the flavor in the beans.
  11. Cover the pan & cook the curry on medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until water is reduced to half.
  12. Once done, taste the flavor. Add masalas or salt as required.
  13. Add a few drops of lemon juice (if you desire little bit of sour taste).


  1. Canned beans are pre-cooked & hence easier for students to use (No soaking overnight business). I use them all the time. People say they are high in sodium content. You can try to get low sodium cans but I am not too concerned.
  2. If you feel you have added more salt than required, add a few drops of lemon juice to the curry. This will balance out the salt.
  3. You can use the same recipe for Chick peas curry (Indian Chole). Only difference would be using Chole masala instead of garam masala if you want the authentic chole taste.
  4. You can also buy a food chopper to help with all the cutting.


Canned Red Beans

Sautéed Veggies

Masala Spoon Size

Step 10 photo

Cooked Rajma


5 thoughts on “Easy Recipes 1: Red Bean Curry (Indian Rajma)

  1. Nice! That ‘s really detailed and helpful. 🙂 I actually got some kidney beans this weekend -not canned though – will try out the recipe on them. Hopefully it’ll work out well though I have an innate quality of ruining even simple things.

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