red-kidney-bean-curry Recipes

red kidney bean curry

I have a confession to make: For years, I have been cooking a dish that I love very very much but I haven’t told you about it because it comes from two words that I cannot bring myself to publicly own up to.* Especially on a site where if you suggested I use one, I’d suggest you haven’t been paying attention.

It’s a box mix, people. And it makes the most fantastic rajmah, or kidney bean curry. Wait! Let me explain. Long before I had cooked a single Indian dish, I was overwhelmed at the thought of it. I didn’t have the spices. I didn’t know which spices I’d want. I was sure I’d use them all wrong. There’s like an art and a science to this and I am a dilettante in the world of Indian cooking.

kidney beans

And one day we were at Whole Foods, and they of course had some cooking samples out, these provided from a company that was packaging Indian spice mixes for classic dishes, for which they helpfully provided recipes on the back. The aloo gobi was okay. The chicken tikka masala was, you know, not bad either. But the kidney bean curry? Swoon. We took it home with us that very night.

In the years since, I have found Indian recipes I can’t get enough of. There are Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes, Tangy Cabbage Salads and an Everyday Yellow Dal, Red Split Lentils with Cabbage, Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters and my favorite, the one that we make many times a year, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes.

indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes

And we always serve it with my super-secret rajmah mix. In fact, my shame associated with taking spices from a packaged mix was so great, I failed to note this wee detail: I was actually cooking this dish from scratch! There are beans, chopped tomotoes, canned sauce, fresh ginger and onion and garlic and chiles and you prep them all yourself and seriously, does this sound to you like a box mix? No? That’s because all it provides is the spices. Spices that, as it turns out, are already in my spice rack.

Once I did realize this, it wasn’t long before I no longer even needed it for that. Free at last! And free to share without shame.

red kidney bean curry

* I promise, you will never see a Smitten Kitchen recipe that says, “first, buy this thing from this brand at this store.”

One year ago: Pasta Puttanesca, Broken Artichoke Heart Salad
Two years ago: Dill Bread

Red Kidney Bean Curry [Rajmah]
Adapted from an Arora spice blend

This is an Indian cousin of your favorite spicy red bean chili.

Serves 6

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger (I use half this; I’m tepid in the fresh ginger department)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large green chili, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 ounce can of tomato sauce or 8 ounces of one of your choice
3 cups boiled red kidney beans or 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, undrained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley, if you’re cilantro-averse)

Heat oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat for one minute. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili, and let sizzle for one minute. Add the tomato sauce, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus one additional cup of water, and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve over rice or with naan. A dollop of plain yougurt on top is heavenly.

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275 comments on red kidney bean curry

  1. Hi Deb — First post, although I’ve been reading and cooking for several months. What a great blog — gorgeous photos, sharp writing, and every recipe I’ve made (a dozen or so) has been a winner. I’ve made the Indian-spiced potatoes and caulflower twice — fantastic. This recipe sounds great,too. But undrained kidney beans? I always find that viscous junk they’re packed in gross. Is there something I’m missing?

  2. Funny…I work at WFM and I’ve never seen the Ramjah blend. We carry all the other spice blends listed on the site…
    I’ve recently started cooking Indian cuisine from scratch– so good and it doesn’t ever get boring! Thanks for sharing.

  3. This looks absolutely delicious. Who knew I could make Indian food without even going to the store first? I’m so excited to try this out. And I love that it’s vegetarian! (P.S.–I made the black bean/feta tacos this weekend. They were INCREDIBLE.)

  4. Rajma chaval (kidney bean curry on rice) was one of the most blissful things about living in India for a year. It was my absolute favorite dish, and the only thing I would eat in the traditional way – with my hands. It absolutely MUST be topped with dahi (aka curd, aka yogurt – even sour cream will do in a pinch).

    I have such visceral reactions to rajma chaval, and it’s a shame that I’ve never been able to replicate it the perfection I remember – and it seems to be largely left off the menu at Indian restaurants. But thanks to this, I’ll attempt it again this week. I cannot wait.

  5. Even my boyfriend says this look yummy! I’m hopeless with Indian cusine normally, but I think I might give this a shot, it just looks so good!

  6. Thank you for sharing this! Indian food is, by far, my favorite cuisine yet I am far too intimidated to cook it. This not only sounds delicious, but looks and sounds incredibly straightforward. Thank you also for the links to other Indian recipes. It is just what I’ve been looking for to spice up my cooking. Pun intended.

  7. what if I’m cilantro-AND-parsley-averse ? :/ I believe my dislike for both herbs came from college my freshman and sophomore years where the cafeteria used copious amounts of both herbs. So much so that lasagna looked more green than red and white.

  8. This looks healthy and delicious! I love Indian food but like you have been rather timid to dive into Indian spice blends from scratch. We have your chocolate beer cupcakes cooling right now – holy cow do they smell fantastic!
    Phoo-D

  9. This is perfect for the rainy days out here in sf. I never knew the heat (and the color) came from cayenne. Interesting.

    Next time I need to clear my nasal passages and/or feed lots of people (probably soon given the recession cession) this will be a great choice.

    Where is smitten kitchen located?

  10. I made this recently from Neeta Saluja’s cookbook, http://www.sixspices.com/ … My husband loved it, but I couldn’t get the smell out of my coat/carpet/curtians for a month! A bottle of Febreeze, a good dry clean and a carpet shampoo later, and I may just try it again.. I’m a masochist, what can I say?
    How about that cauliflower and potato curry? Recipe soon?

  11. I think you bring up a great point. Sometimes, to wet our feet into cooking something new, we have to cheat a little. I see a lot of people who are intimidated to cook from scratch because they think that if they fail once and cheat a little, that makes them failures or hypocrites. But sometimes it’s ok to buy a product or a mix if it helps us to expand our cooking skills. BTW, the recipe looks great, I will try it sometime.

  12. Deb–I don’t think anyone will fault you for venturing out with a box product–at least to test something–as a good kit will teach you what spices to use, and perhaps in the order of combination, and once you get that down it’s served its purpose! Understanding how unfamiliar flavors work together is the challenge in taking on a new cuisine, and sometimes it helps to have a basic primer to have some point of comparison. The beauty of course is that the homemade version usually is much tastier–I’ll bookmark this to try when we need a break from a meat dish.

  13. wow – what a bizarre coincidence! I literally made rajmah last night from a box mix that had been hanging out in my pantry and felt the exact same feelings of shame (actually, maybe a bit extra b/c I’m Indian). I was going to ask my mom for a recipe but I’ll try this one first. Thanks Deb!

    Quick tip on kidney beans – you can use dry kidney beans and soak them overnight or while you’re at work, then cook them as directed. if you do that, they won’t make you gassy.

  14. I think even the most dedicated, real food enthusiasts have a dirty little secret that comes from a box… I’m glad you shared yours. Gorgeous photos!

  15. Did someone say boxed curry mix? I admit to using boxed Golden Curry to make Japanese kare raisu every single time. But then, your box of spices isn’t quite the same as my unidentifiable block of weird green-brown stuff… But everyone from my grandma to my ex boyfriend’s mother (from Tokyo) uses it, so there’s my justification. (My justification of wine and an egg for dinner? Um, well, it tasted yummy…)

  16. I don’t blame you at all. I’ve never made Indian food and if I were to go to the store right now and see a mix I would snatch it up. It’s all part of the learning process. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  17. and i was telling my husband over the IM in afternoon that i feel like eating rajmah chawal (red kidney beans and rice)…have to wait until friday when i can cook it :)

  18. Deb, this looks like a great variation on one of my favorite dishes. Red Beans and Rice. :) I was planning on cooking a pot tomorrow. Now I’m going to try it this way.

  19. Hardly a box mix if it’s just the spices, girl! A box mix to me is, say, Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes or perhaps Duncan Hines Cake Mix. Ick. Especially the potatoes, my mother-in-law’s specialty years ago. That, and boiled veggies. I didn’t have to do much in the kitchen to wow him.

  20. I used to love the boxed Noodles Romanoff mix. Thank goodness I tried it or I wouldn’t have been inspired to learn to make it myself. Some of those box mixes or spice packets a great way to discover new flavors or ways to prepare foods. I’m not ashamed of my use of them when I was a new cook. I still use the Lawry’s enchilada sauce mix..I still can’t make my own sauce seasoned as well as that packet can..and I hate the canned stuff. My bad?

  21. I must laught at the “dollop of plain yogurt”. I’m Indian and every time my mother makes this (once a month), i must have it with fresh chopped onions on the side, 1:1 ratio of yogurt and rajma mixed together in a bowl, the rajma must be steaming hot and well the yogurt fresh from the fridge, accompanied with sour cream and onion chips! And everytime i do this, my father tells me exactly how repulsed he is by my combination. I stand a proud indian! Must demand rajma from my mother… SOON!

  22. Ooooh BTW, as an indian who is freaked out herself by cooking any indian, (shame on me, i know), I can vouch for the frozen food company called DEEP (their logo is of this ginie lamp) YOU MUST TRY THE SHAHI PANEER! Imagine having that really rich sauce from butter chicken, but with fresh indian cheese. It is what i survived on while my family was gone to India for almost 2 months.

  23. It’s amazing how we eat different ethnic cuisines without really thinking about what goes inside. When you dissect a few dishes, it all starts to make sense. Ginger, onion, tomato, tumeric, cumin, coriander, chili, cayenne, salt…from there you have the base for soo many wonderful Indian dishes.

    Cook outside the box, I say!

  24. Tonight, inspired by you, I made my first foray into Indian food. I was craving it something fierce & your post gave me the courage necessary to go forth & make it myself! I made the red split lentils w/cabbage & the black-eyed peas in a spicy goan curry & the cucumber scallion raita. It was all soooooo good, & I am so full & happy right now! Thank you, thank you, thank you! It all took just under 2 hours, I made a huge mess in my kitchen, & I couldn’t be happier about it! Good night – off to bed now :)

  25. This is favourite comfort food in India, especially northern India.. rajma-chawal (rajma you know and chawal is rice in hindi), especially in the months of nov, dec, jan and feb. Hearty, tasty and warm. Enjoy :)

  26. “I didn’t have the spices. I didn’t know which spices I’d want. I was sure I’d use them all wrong.” Oh my goodness, this was like hearing myself speak. I feel this way exactly at this point in my college-student-y life. But your aloo gobi looks SO delicious; I like how your potatoes have been cubed so neatly. ;) And I’m such a sucker for beans these days–that curry looks amaaazing.
    I do have a question to ask though (for if I’m feeling brave and muster an attempt). How much heat would you say this curry packs? I’m not too big on really spicy curries, so I might want to use less of the hotter ingredients.

  27. My Mum used to make this all the time when I was small, this made me remember how much I liked it.
    I tend to use sunflower or vegetable oil when I am cooking Indian food, I think olive oil flavours it in the wrong way.

  28. Thank you, thank you`for the “cilantro averse” link. I’m one of those who can’t stand the taste of it fresh. Use the dried, roasted and ground seeds almost every day.

    btw, this dish looks amazing.

  29. I don’t think that is cheating at all. Hamburger Helper it ain’t. It’s a packet of spices. I live in France where very little of that exists so I am rarely tempted, except this week I wanted Japanese noodle vegetable soup. When I asked the woman at the Oriental Market for dashi and miso, she basically said “why fiddle with all these powders? Just buy the packets for miso soup mix which is exactly the same thing.” I did, added the veg and the noodles and tofu and it was fantastic. Cheating? Nah!

    And your beans look delicious!

  30. I’m a college student studying abroad in Northern Ireland this semester. While I can rock some awesome Mexican dishes at home, I’ve been wanting to try something Indian since they are all about it over here! This recipe looks great, and I think I’ll test it on my housemates this weekend.

    P.S., Deb, I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for a while but never posted. Thank you for all the tasty recipes you’ve posted!

  31. i have the same issues with making indian food. i once made some wretched yogurt encrusted chicken (yikes). i will definitely be following links on what to make. thanks.

  32. I am still in the “I’d like to try cooking more Indian food, but I’m overwhelmed by the spices” phase. Thanks for your story and a delicious recipe to try!

  33. Thanks for sharing! I adore Indian food! It was definitely my strongest craving when I was pregnant. That, and Ethiopian food. There is something about eating with your hands that is just so satisfying.

  34. This looks great! The spice packets are handy, but they tend to be pretty pricey and as you said, most of the spices are probably already in your spice rack. For the most part, Indian cooking uses the same spices over and over (varying by region of course) so if you have cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, chili powder and turmeric in your spice rack, you’re all set and it’s less expensive. My advice to those who gun shy with spices is to just a add a little of each spice at first, taste and then increase proportionately as fits your palatte. Glad to have discovered your blog!

  35. Kidney beans are my least favorite beans, and I normally swap them out for something else, but I do love them in Rasma. My girlfriend’s mother makes it (along with many other delicious Indian foods) but I’ve never tried making it myself.

  36. Glorious Blog….do not be ashamed. I always buy salsas and brand items and if I find I like them I challange myself to duplicate them. Just bought the rajmah mix 2 weeks ago because Acme in Pennsylvania was discontinuing the product. Think of it as buying a recipe….I actually bought 6 different just to try…50 cents a piece is hard to pass up. I make everything from scratch but sometimes its fun to explore without dirty dished to cleanup. Keep up the great work…love your site!!

  37. Glorious Blog….do not be ashamed. I always buy salsas and brand items and if I find I like them I challange myself to duplicate them. Just bought the rajmah mix 2 weeks ago because Acme in Pennsylvania was discontinuing the product. Think of it as buying a recipe….I actually bought 6 different just to try…50 cents a piece is hard to pass up. I make everything from scratch but sometimes its fun to explore without dirty dishes to cleanup. Keep up the great work…love your site!!

  38. Oh! I used to make this pretty regularly from the spice mix package, but I had totally forgotten about it! Thanks for the reminder! And of course I adore your blog!!

  39. We’re all human! We all get *something* from a box mix! But, it is fun to dissect what’s in the box and make it from scratch, too. Either way, your dish looks spectacular!

  40. This is really weird. I was JUST looking at a menu for this new Indian place and wondering if I should go there for lunch to try their kidney bean curry. And the very next place I clicked was your site and its gorgeous picture! Obviously this is a sign from the universe on what I should have for lunch today.

    And then I can make your version another day, which I’m sure will be superior to the restaurant food! :)

  41. Indian food is one of my favorite comfort foods– thanks for sharing this recipe! and I have to admit, I’ve stalked the spice aisle at Whole Foods, looked at the ingredients of a cool-sounding rub, and gone home to recreate a similar blend from scratch. Glad to know that inspiration can come from anywhere, even for fantastic cooks like yourself!

  42. Hi Deb,

    I wouldnt worry too much about the spice mix. Even in India it is common for people to use prepared spice mixtures for popular dishes such as chhole, pav bhaji, and even chai. Thanks!

  43. I’m afraid I don’t quite understand this, towards the end of the ingredients list: “8 ounce can of tomato sauce or 8 ounces of one of your choice”

    One what of our choice?

  44. Thanks so much for the recipe. I love curry and I adore legumes so this seems like the perfect marriage. I look forward to reading your fantastic blog.

  45. I love your blog and will definitely make this for dinner – it looks absolutely yummy and like a perfect way of making my boyfriend eat beans. Last weekend I got him to eat chickpeas thanks to your lovely smashed chickpea salad.
    I’m a little confused as to the tomato sauce (I’m Swedish and don’t know the American definition). I’m guessing it has nothing to do with either ketchup or a seasoned tomato sauce, e.g. marinara. Should I use a tomato purée?
    Thank you for a beautiful and mouthwatering blog!

  46. That might even get my kidney-bean averse friends to try kidney beans.

    And if not MORE FOR ME!

    *realizes in a panic that she’s out of ground coriander*

  47. Looks yummy! In general, when I cook Indian food, I throw in all the spices first to toast a little in the pan. Turmeric always tastes too raw to me otherwise. Then onions/garlic/ginger, and then everything else. I learned this from my mom.

  48. Wow…what a coincidence! I love this dish too…and used the box mix you are talking about to make a great meal for the family over the weekend!. Yes boxed spices can be frowned upon, but Indian cooking is a great reason to use the boxed spices because it makes it so easy to prepare (and especially under a time crunch). If anyone is interested, I would recommend the site ishopindian.com. They have hundreds of these, (not all great), but this particular organic one was on there, and the other varieties aren’t bad. Thanks smitten kitchen! :)

  49. i made the red kidney bean curry earlier and it’s great! i don’t normally like chilis but i think they definitely made the dish much tastier. i don’t think i’ll ever make it w/ out them.

    i have to admit that i hate cabbage and cauliflower, but i’m going to try making the yellow dal and red split lentil dishes at least once. for future reference, do you think other vegetables could be substituted for the cabbage and cauliflower? indian food is my favorite by far, and i love potatoes (massive understatement), but i never order aloo gobi b/c of the cauliflower.

    thanks for the great recipes!

  50. I did it! I made this! And your Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potato. So yummy! I actually managed to not screw it up! (Every other time I have *ever* tried to make Indian food I’ve messed it up massively.) I think if I make it again I’d drain either drain the canned beans or try cooking them myself. The juice they come in really does squick me out. But it was majorly yummy, and a total success! Thank you! :)

  51. I’d call it a spice mix rather than a box mix (it’s not like one of those “instant Gulab Jamun” BOX mixes, or the “just add water” type) and it really is nothing to be ashamed of. My mom and my Pakistani aunts (living IN Pakistan!!) use them all the time. It just takes out the extra step of measuring each spice out precisely and remembering what curry mixes require which spices. And the much touted Garam Masala is nothing but a spice mix for that matter. You could theoretically make your Garam Masala from scratch if you’re a purist. And the real deal is to freshly grind your cumin, coriander etc from the seeds each time you use em. I don’t do that in my tiny college room kitchenette, but I know friends who do! Although, unlike my mom, the only spice mixes I use are, well Garam Masala, and Sambar curry mix. Mmmmm Sambar… the perfect “empty-out-my-fridge-n-use-up-half-rotten-veggies” recipe… cheap, nutritious n oh so delicious.

  52. “Long before I had cooked a single Indian dish, I was overwhelmed at the thought of it. I didn’t have the spices. I didn’t know which spices I’d want. I was sure I’d use them all wrong.”

    When an artist is commissioned to do a piece, he or she does not simply dive in and start painting/sculpting/etc. The artist researches things about the commissioner, reads up on the history, and looks at various other pieces for inspiration.
    That’s my favorite part about cooking- researching a meal over the course of a week (or two)! Reading dozens of recipes before developing my own. Watching how to videos, and visualizing myself cooking the dish.
    Every dish you make should be a masterpiece. When I don’t cook masterpieces, I eat steamed cabbage. No compromises!

    Cooking is not just about filling your stomach. It’s about so much more.

  53. I just made this tonight and while I really like it, I think it should be tweaked a little. It was a little soupy for my tastes and I think next time I’ll add one more can of tomato sauce and only 1/2 cup water. I feel like it needed more flavor and might up the spices (not chili powder) next time. I also added two cans of corn and really like the addition. I think next time I’ll also add some diced potatoes too!

  54. I would drain the kidney beans (to get rid of the gummy water). A lot of folks use the water as it thickens the curry, but here are a couple of tips to get the thickness without using the canning water – (i) Puree or grate the onions instead of chopping them. The pureed onions form a nice base for the curry gravy (ii) Take out a half cup of the beans and puree them and add back to the curry. This too thickens the curry nicely. Also, I would recommend cooking the curry for longer than 10 minutes (this really allows the kidney beans to soak in more flavor.

  55. Good job for breaking down the spice mix and putting it together from scratch. In my family, we always used packaged taco seasoning when we had tacos, and I’m not ashamed, but my husband is averse to it, and I was more than happy to find a non-MSG version. It was so easy, of course. Onions, garlic, cumin, and oregano. I’m glad you’ve taken the hard part out of this slightly more complex recipe. I was trying to figure out something to do with the rest of a pot of kidney beans I have in the fridge, and this would be perfect.

  56. This looks delicious, will try it tonight! I have to double Linn’s question (81) though: I’m German and don’t really understand what you mean by “tomato sauce”. Does this mean a tomato sauce already containing spices, like something you would eat with spaghetti? Or simply pureed tomatoes with nothing added to them? Thank you so much for an answer (to anyone, really!), as it probably really makes a difference regarding how much / which spiced to add.

  57. Yummy, and easy! Next time I will cook the kidney beans, but I HAd to have it last night, so I bought canned ones. On another note, sometimes I wish people would comment AFTER they have tried the recipe. Or comment only if they have questions. It saves looking through a lot of posts that way. You do such a great job on your site. I have made several of your recipes.

  58. Deb,

    This recipe is very, very good. I am just finishing up the last of it for lunch today and I think it is even better the second day. I took your advice about the extra water if you like the canned beans drained and rinsed. I served it over brown Basmati rice with a side of quick sauted bok choy for a little crunch.

    Thank you for this recipe.
    Have a lovely weekend.

  59. I made this last night and added some poached chicken breast that I cooked separately and served it over basmati rice. Thanks for the inspiration!

  60. My best friend, Sheila, and I made this for dinner and it was amazingly delicious! We’re really proud of ourselves for pulling it off. Much to Deb’s dismay…we used “curry powder” which included a mix of the spices called for in this recipe, instead of buying seven individual spices (we’re college students who didn’t feel like spending money on separate spices). Still tasted wonderful. Can’t wait to try it leftover tomorrow for lunch!

  61. I, too, am normally totally mortified to use boxed spice mixes– but even before I clicked on the link, I thought to myself “I wonder if she’s as addicted to Arora Creations as I am?…” I have only tried two or three of their things, but the gobi mix was the BEST INSTA-ANYTHING I have ever ever tried. Hands down. I wasn’t as blown away by the others, but my god. that cauliflower. And, really, its just spices- but in pre-measured (ok, lazy) proportions I understand. No ratios for me to muck up or translations or seeds to toast. I suppose I could go out to Jackson Heights and make myself the same thing at Patel Bros. for a lot cheaper- but why bother, when that gobi is there and calling my name and better than 99% of the ones I’ve ever had at restaurants (no joke)? I have even made it with no oil and its just as good.
    OK, I’ll shut up now. Will try this. Soon. Love kidney beans.

  62. I made this dish tonight and it was delicious, also made the spiced cauliflower and potatoes dish. I understand why you use less ginger than the recipe indicates, but I went for the full amount and it was a little much. However after the food had sat and cooled down it tasted even better and the ginger amount seemed perfect.

    I now really want to try the Aloo Gobi mix mentioned above because that is my favorite indian dish, and while this cauliflower dish echoed it, it wasn’t quite the same. Still both of these are some of the best indian food I’ve succeeded in making.

    I did not have the whole cumin seeds, but I will get some of those and caraway seeds in the future. I used some black mustard seeds I bought at an indian spice shop. I see these in restaurant indian food all the time, but the ones I have seem thicker and not as fresh tasting, still it was a good substitution in both dishes.

  63. A question for those of you who have already MADE THE RECIPE:
    what did you use for the chili?? A jalapeno or a canned chili????
    Also, I agree with Karen of an earlier post, its really a better idea for all if one posts after making the recipe or if you have questions. It is kind of a drag looking through all of the “ooohh Im gonna make this” posts.

  64. Maria –

    I left those out because didn’t want to have to cut them up :) I just added a little extra chili powder to make-up for some of that heat.

  65. Maria,

    I left the chili out too because it said “optional” in the recipe and, like you, I did not know what to get. Made all the rest as written.

    MA

  66. I used three small canned green chilis (not very hot) and wasn’t too sure about what to think about them (watery consistency, not very interesting taste). I had a look around our local farmers’ market today to see if they had something better but only saw some very dark green chilis. Not sure what they were :)

  67. Serrano chili peppers are what I always use in Indian cooking. I’ve used a jalapeno in a bind. I would not use canned chilis. If you leave the chili out, you can add spice by using red chili powder (aka cayenne).

  68. Hi Deb,

    Unbelievably, I have been reading your web site for, ooo…a couple of years but have still never managaged to try & cook anything. I revel in the pictures & wish I had time/money/whatever.
    Well – no longer. I can now join the many, many others who often say – “O my! I am going to go make that right now!” or, “I made this last night & it was soooo delicious” —
    I made it.
    It was glorious.
    With the cauliflower/potato side dish.
    And homemade na’an.
    Hear me roar. Or at least breathe heavily since I am so full.

  69. I made the recipe a few nights ago. It came out very yummy and had a nice kick. I am also not so huge on ginger and added a little less than half. I think next time I might try grating the ginger or mincing it really tiny too. I think it added a nice depth of flavor but I didn’t like biting into a chunk of it. I’m not sure what kind of chili I used, I just know it wasn’t a jalapeno. (It was about 3-4 inches long, skinny and green). I just removed the rib and seeds and diced it up.

    This was my first ever Indian cooking endeavor and it’s encouraged me to attempt more Indian dishes at home. Like a lot of people who posted above, I think I was feeling very overwhelmed by the amount of spices and whatnot that goes into an Indian dish. So….this is just a long way to say, Thank you Deb! I love love love your website! :) :) :)

  70. Kasey that is so funny because I grated the ginger and thought that next time I might not bother as it was so tedious and released a lot of the juice. I minced it for the cauliflower recipe.

    I used fresh jalepenos, I did not include the seeds because they were a bit brown and off looking. I also had no cayenne so I just put in a little dried red pepper flakes. I like the heat I got, I might go a little hotter next time.

  71. I made this last night, using the full amount of ginger, as I dearly love ginger. It was tasty. I used a long hot pepper that was maybe 7 inches long, seeded. I enjoy biting into tiny little pieces of ginger so wouldn’t dream of grating it. It was super easy and definitely something I will make again. I think this would be great for people who aren’t crazy about highly spiced Indian food as it’s nice and mild.

  72. There’s no shame in a mix! My favorite channa masala comes from a box mix. Sometimes life calls for quick chana, and I’m always happy it’s there! Your kidney bean curry looks delish. I’ve never made a curry with kidney beans but I definitely must try. I had a look at your other Indian dishes as well. Oh my god – the picture of the cauliflower and potatoes almost made me pee my pants! (That’s a compliment in case you couldn’t tell.)

  73. I literally JUST made this, and there is now a huge tupperware of it in my fridge, waiting to be spooned out each night for a really quick, cheap and tasty dinner – if it lasts that long, because my roommate (who HATES Indian food and always makes such a huge fuss when I suggest we order take-out) was even trying to get in edgewise for a taste. I think she and I will be sharing it, along with the blondies I’m making tonight – those are now my standard recipe to use, thanks, Deb!

  74. You are cheating not by using a spice mix but by using beans from a can !!! The best way as I learnt from my mom goes like this –
    1. Soak beans overnight , change the water and boil the beans till they are soft.
    2. Take onion/s and with a hand blender puree them , hand blender so that you don’t dirty too many dishes . Fry it with ghee / oil on a medium fire till the oil starts to separate . Add pureed tomatoes and note not tomato paste , you don’t want to screw up the texture . Cook till it loses most of its water .
    3. Add all the dry spices , cook a bit more to bring out all the flavours .
    4. Add the boiled rajma and let the thing simmer for some time
    5. Top with greens and serve , you can add a dollop of butter or cream to make it richer .

    A little secret , I make chana masala the same way , just replace the rajma with chana ( chickpea ) .

  75. This dish was my first experience cooking Indian food and it was a huge hit! I will definitely be making it again and trying your other Indian recipes.

  76. Wow… i have no idea how i end up here on a some cooking kitchen blog… What the hack, Now i’m here….Lets start reading this post coz the “Rajma” (red kidney bean) is the only thing look familiar in the snap. After reading half a way… I got new understanding of making red kidney bean’s curry other then my old recipe which was something smiler to my 80% other recipes. Again… what the hack ;)

    Now i’m thinking… WOW!! what a wonderful cooking kitchen blog where i landed up..!! I bookmarked your blog for more food related inspiration.

  77. I am interested in, and had plans to try the the red kidney bean curry, but you, in your very sly, very talented way, sidetracked me with the Indian Spiced cauliflower and potato recipe. It was excellent. As for me, maybe I have an attention deficit, but no, couldn’t be—you definitely have my focus on the kitchen. Thanks for your inspiring recipes. You have never disappointed me.

  78. this was DELICIOUS! i made it as part of my “slumdog millionaire”-themed oscar party and it was definitely one of my favorite dishes (had some for lunch today, too). I also made your everyday yellow dal, cauliflower and potatoes, and the vegetable fritters (along with a few others i found on the interweb). it was quite the feast, and even though my house still smells like curry, it was worth it…a BIG hit with the guests, and enough leftovers to last the week for sure. the fritters were a big challenging for me, but in all fairness, they came at the end of a 24-hr cooking spree and didn’t get the same treatment as everything else (and it showed).

  79. I made this last night–minus the green chili, since I didn’t have any on hand–in order to combat a nasty head cold, and it was incredible! Hot and spicy and oh, so comforting, with plenty of taste to cut through the blahs from my stuffy head. I’m looking forward to leftovers tonight and probably all through the weekend. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  80. Ella again! Deb, I just have to tell you that as a poor, starving college student (who is lucky enough to have a kitchen with a stove) this meal has entirely changed my life. I made it again today for the week and decided to throw some tofu in there too to stretch it out even more – the stuff’s cheap, and it takes on the flavor of anything, can’t be bad at all, right? Well, we’ll find out, but my roommate and I just want to say thank you again! We’ve already saved a lot because twice for dinner last night, instead of ordering take out, we had this.

  81. Thank you! This looks delicious. I’m eating less and less meat these days and finding vegetarian recipes that are husband-friendly can be a challenge. We both think this one looks wonderful!

  82. Made the dish tonight. Absolutely delicious, thank you for posting it.

    Followed it to the letter, almost. I cooked the spices a bit on their own before adding the tomato sauce, and I mashed about half a cup of the red kidney beans before stirring them in. I also added some of the leftover kidney beans from the 1lb I cooked, right before serving. I let the kidney beans get a little more tender than I would have liked, so it made for a nice contrast in textures.

    The sauce mixture makes a nice base. I plan to play around with it to see if I can get it to play nice with Tofu. Really had a nice flavor, much better than my other attempts at Curry. I’d need another thickener, though. Maybe some of the leftover bean water, or just an old standby like cornstarch.

  83. I’ve followed your recipes for ages, but never commented — but THIS recipe I absolutely have to thank you for. I’ve made it numerous times (canned beans, boiled beans, tomato from a can, fresh tomato puree, etc), and it’s always the most delicious kidney bean concoction I’ve EVER EATEN. I often put a tablespoon of nutritional yeast in, which I guess might horrify some people (cheesy!), but it still tastes delicious to me. Thanks again!

  84. Made this for dinner last night.
    It didn’t look as beautiful as the picture, but it tasted awesome.
    (Though I didn’t use ginger, that may have had something to do with it…)

  85. We made this for dinner a few nights ago — so easy and it turned out great! The analogy to red bean chili is very apt.

  86. HelloDeb! I have the oil in the pot, and all the ingredients ready to go, but I’m wondering about that single plum tomato, as it doesn’t seem to make an apperance in the method. :-) I might just skip it; the onion/garlic/ginger paste is familiar to me from other Indian cooking I’ve done, but I’ve not come across a tomato in that first stage yet..

    We’re going to enjoy this meal, I am sure!

  87. I really liked this recipe, I made it about 1 1/2 to 2 months ago and it was awesome. It also froze really well which is good because I like to cook large batched of food that freeze well because cooking for 1 everyday tends to get boring. It’s a really great and pretty inexpensive recipe to make which makes it ideal for me as a university student. I found it a little too salty but that might of been because I used canned kidney beans, I’m making it again today with some dried kidney beans.

  88. I’ve made this again several times, and it’s excellent.

    A couple of changes I made along the way. I found that the original recipe lacked enough heat, so to boost it I use 2 serrano peppers and double the ground cayenne pepper. I use heaping amounts of the various spices to kick up the flavor a bit, and I also fry the spice mixture on its own with the onion/ginger/garlic/pepper mixture before adding the tomato sauce. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but it’s something I’ve done for other curry dishes with some success.

    Most of the time I use canned kidney beans for convenience. I just make sure that I buy good quality organic beans, so there are no added chemicals and no added sugar in the bean broth. Safeway “O” and especially Trader Joe’s are good the brands that I’ve used successfully.

  89. This is a great simple 30 minute meal that tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen. I used about 2 inches of ginger root – grated instead of the 1/4 cup and it was still nice and very flavorful. I only used 1/4 c. oil and it didn’t seem to need more. I also added some carrot slices and some collard greens since I love veggies. MMMmmmm! Warms my heart!

  90. Wow, this was delicious! Thanks so much for posting the recipe. I love how fast it comes together. I used dried beans that I prepared beforehand, and my only issue was possibly that I salted the beans AND added the 1 tsp of salt in the recipe. It may have been a tad too salty. But still wonderful! This is definitely going into my permanent recipe book.

  91. i just made this, honestly it was gross.. i am indian and i have tried rajma curries before and this was just too pasty and had a terrible taste. overall very disapointing just like most internet recipes.

  92. This was awesome. Just made it for new year’s eve dinner with rancho gordo’s christmas lima beans. The 8 year old loved it, even with half a big jalapeno. Alton Brown’s oven-baked brown rice was perfect with it. Thanks!

  93. I made this delicious bean curry this evening for dinner and it was anything but pasty. It was amazing! I served it with red quinoa.

  94. This saved my butt tonight! We actually had all of these ingredients lying around, and it was *so* quick to put together. Oh, and it tasted amazing too. Thankyouthankyouthankyou for this.

  95. @159 – this is not a traditional Indian rajma recipe. To get that flavor you must first cook dry kidney beans with black cardamom, stick cinnamon, and turmeric. Use ghee or butter or peanut oil or vegetable oil, and add cumin seeds to that first before adding ginger/garlic/pepper. Leave out the tomato sauce – it isn’t a tomato-based soup – just some fresh tomato is needed. Then you need to add fenugreek and garam masala in addition to the other spices mentioned here. Also some cilantro during the cooking and not just for garnish.

  96. YUM!!! I just made this and it is incredible. Such a lite blend of flavors. I couldn’t believe how fast it came together, AND that I had all the spices! Indian food is my favorite, but always seems so intimidating. Thank you!

  97. Just had for dinner, taste great and super easy to make. I had everything but the cumin seeds which made this a very inexpensive but delicious Sunday dinner. Wife thought I put to much ginger in which I was a bit under the 1/4 cup and will probably put less next time. I think I would also grate it rather than chop the ginger.

  98. I actually had the exact experience as you. I also used to buy the spice mix until I realized I could make it at home with the spices in my cupboard. In fact I keep the mix box in my recipe file and just add the spices listed on the back. You are right. This is amazingly good.

  99. I want to start using more dried beans in recipes instead of canned. In this recipe, I wasn’t sure how much of the beans’ cooking liquid to add. All of it, or only as much as would be in the cans of beans. And if you add the cooking liquid, do you still add an additional cup of water to the pot, or is that for canned beans only?

  100. This was delicious! I followed the recipe pretty closely only i didn’t use the green chile pepper because my mom doesn’t like spicy food so i tried to tone it down a bit, but i found it had a very quiet spicyness to it. I was exctatic to find another unique vegetarian recipe! Thanks for the post!

  101. I’ve made this several times, with a slightly different recipe that calls for a jalapeno and less garlic (but we always include more, and now I have validation via smitten kitchen!) First the onions are softened, other aromatics added in and cooked lightly, then tomatoes and spices. We do without the tomato sauce and cook down the chopped tomato (it calls for about twice as much more.)

    I can never get all the water to cook away in the allotted amount of time, or even twice that time, so I reduce it by half. I assume we’re getting something similar. My husband calls it “Indian Chili” and I am pretty sure he only eats it because he feels guilty about consuming naan right out of the oven without accompaniment.

  102. Made this today and it was fabulous. I love that it is freezable. The extra went into the freezer and will be thawed later this week for an easy dinner.

  103. I’ve been lurking through your blog for a few years now and I’ve tried a handful of your recipes and I have to say that this one and the “Jacked Up Banana Bread” recipe are my absolute favorites. Not only will I be saving these in my recipe book, but I’ll also be making them once a month at least through the Winter months. Also, my boyfriend(the picky eater) LOVES the banana bread. Thank you!

  104. I tried the red kidney bean curry it needs to severely be adapted. I guess their is such a thing as everything is not what it seems.

    THE BAD: I got deceived by the photo but the taste knocked be back to earth. The ginger is way too much it gives off a nasty tangy bite taste that overrides even the tomato sauce. I would say eliminate the ginger all together or use a negligible amount i.e about 1 tbsp. I repeat do not add the recommended amount of ginger unless you want to waste food and disturb you taste buds in ways you will regret.

    THE GOOD: It has a nice spice from the cayenne pepper and the onions and tomatoes help add a decent flavor. If you take my recommendations you will save yourself time and money from throwing out batches of meals :)

  105. I loved this recipe, but I made a couple of changes that I think made it even better! I added in 28 oz. of tofu instead of the beans. I poured in all of the “tofu water” with it. I also added half a cup (I think I could add even more) of plain almond milk. It made it creamier than when I tried it the first time.
    Also, I recommend seriously chopping that ginger so you don’t get chunks of it. And you don’t need to use the entire amount of olive oil.
    Delicious!

  106. I made this tonight and we loved it! I used the full 1/4 cup of fresh ginger and it seemed like the right amount to me. Instead of red kidney beans, I used small red beans because that’s what I had. It was terrific!

  107. This is the best curry I have made to date. The others I have made have been chickpea heavy, so we were pleasantly surprised by the texture of the kidney beans. I used a cubanelle pepper instead of the green chile and for the tomato sauce, leftover homemade from spaghetti yesterday. We love ginger, so the amount listed was perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  108. I just made this wonderful curry this week and I want to thank you for giving me such a delicious addition to my work lunches. It was a great curry and it was so easy to make!

  109. Your asterisk made me smile :) I just made a dal makhiani that this reminded me of this (who thinks of kidney beans and indian food? But they are a staple!) Any new indian recipes on the horizon? Its been a while since you made one… Maybe a fish curry? Fish is quite often overlooked in Indian cooking here in the NY area, but it is so prevalent and necessary in India!

    (I don’t comment often on your site, but I truly admire your work! I’ll be making the Dobos Torte recipe for the Mrs. tomorrow! Thank you for all these wonderful recipes!)

    1. CMP — Not a new recipe, but my latest addiction is chaat masala, a tangy spice mixture. I’m more than addicted, I have to sprinkle it on everything, from sliced cucumbers to mango. Have you tried it? The MDH brand is particularly good.

  110. I haven’t tried that yet. I normally make all my masala’s from scratch, and this one looks both interesting and incredibly easy (Less than 10 min to make for sure). I will have to give it a try!

  111. I am not sure what you mean by a can of tomato sauce – does this mean pureed tomatoes or is it something else? And if so how could I make it? I have seen it in a few of your recipes, but as a non-American, not in the shops!

    1. Isabel — I actually meant canned tomato sauce. It’s a wonderful, smooth, neutral sauce. A few brands make them and they’re sold among the canned tomatoes in small cans in the U.S. so most people don’t notice them. In a pinch, just use canned pureed tomatoes.

  112. All excited about a brand new Indian restaurant opening nearby & went out on Friday night…. very disappointing. To redeem the cumin junkie within, I turned to your recipe… so fantastic!! Thank you, thank you! I can’t wait for leftovers tonight. Also looking forward to trying the cauliflower & potato recipe soon.

  113. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have tried this recipe and the cheddar crackers in the last week. And both came out wonderfully and were so easy. I cannot wait for your cookbook. But thank you for the posts to keep us tied over until then.

  114. This recipe won an Iron Chef competition for me and my housemates!! I would recommend serving it over coconut rice, it is truly delightful!

  115. This has become a comfort food to me and a go-to when my (vegan) friends come over for dinner. Thank you. Your site is such a blessing.

  116. I have always hated beans BUT I found your website and just finished preparing and eating your red bean curry.
    It is the BEST and FIRST time I have enjoyed eating red beans. A fabulous recipe!!!!

  117. I made this tonight for my family! It has the right amount of spice and was such a perfect accompaniment to the potatoes and cauliflower. With a few modifications such as using whole coriander seeds, it was a breeze to make and everyone loved it!

  118. ohmygoodness this was delicious! Even the hubs gave me a fist-bump in appreciation. Thank you!! Oh! The yogurt was absolutely fabulous on top!

  119. This dish is fabulous! I used a seeded jalapeno, chopped about 2 1/2″ ginger and used Greek yogurt for the topping. The cilantro lovers in the home (naturally) said it just “made” the dish, while the naysayers thought it was quite tasty without. We had no rice made- our “naan” was a seedy/heavy whole wheat bread sliced thinly! :) This recipe is quick, delicious and uses items we usually have in the home… and forgives reasonable substitutions!

  120. Absolutely fantastic. Really. I am obsessed with dal makhani and have been working so hard on getting it right and you know what? this is better. Great zingy flavour, I followed except used jar crushed ginger instead of fresh. Topped with natural yoghurt as recommended. We all loved it. Thanks!

  121. This is absolutely delicious! I used boiled beans …. did not have cumin seeds or a fresh tomato, ginger or green chili and it is still wonderful! I added extra veggies and did not use the oil to saute veggies and cut the salt in half. I am making yogurt and it will be a perfect compliment. I am so glad that I googled for recipes and did not make chili as planned! I am looking forward to trying some of your other recipes. Big thanks and blessings.

  122. This was amazing! I loved it so much. I didn’t have canned tomato sauce so I used one can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 a can of tomato paste (those little cans.) I also added about 1 1/2 cup of water instead of 1 cup. Was amazing. I’m so pleased with this.

  123. I made this tonight. I added about a tablespoon of butter at the end since, after making the tomato sauce with butter and onion the other day, I’m convinced butter should go in everything. Probably not the best idea I’ve had. Anyway, it was quite good. I’m usually disappointed with my attempts at Indian cooking. But not so much this time.

  124. This recipe is wonderful! I left out the cayenne pepper because I wasn’t sure how the spiciness of the green chili you suggested would compare to the thai green chili that I used; however in retrospect it would have been fine. I ran out of ground cumin so I just added extra seeds and it tasted lovely. One of my friends just became vegetarian and I can’t wait to introduce her to this!

  125. This recipe yields a delicious meal! Made it tonight, with no changes at all (used jasmati rice as the base) except I added diced fresh mango on top. Amazing…spicy, warm, flavorful, and fast (took 40 minutes start to finish). Going into our regular rotation!

  126. The photo looks good and has convinced me to try it! im indian but not seen anything like this and cant wait to give it a go :)

  127. This looks wonderful and I’m going to make it tomorrow for dinner! I put some kidney beans on to soak and did a Google search for recipes – how lucky can I get!

    I am a bit confused about the water and bean combo. The recipe calls for 3 cups boiled beans or 1 30 oz. can of beans, undrained. In the directions, you say to add the beans and 1 additional cup of water with the tomatoes yet there is no mention in the ingredients of 1 C. of water. Am I reading it correctly? I add the 3 cups of cooked beans (which I do in the pressure cooker with a couple bay leaves and a strip of kombu) AND a cup of water followed by the tomatoes?

    This is my 1st visit to your blog and I’m feeling lucky to have found it! Thanks for your delicious recipes and help. I’ll be back!

    1. Hi Marcia — Water is often not listed in ingredients in recipes. You might find that you need a splash or two more water if using drained beans. Use your bean cooking liquid if you kept it; it will be delicious.

  128. This is also great with a bit of either cream or almond butter added; they are variations on this dish-or maybe it’s a different dish with similar ingredients….adds more richness and protein, esp on a cold winter night….

  129. Made the kidney bean curry, cauliflower potato dish, and everyday yellow dal for a dinner party yesterday–it’s become one of my go-to dinner party meals as everyone always loves these recipes! i did all the chopping of onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles at once, which made it easy to throw these together. I think the red kidney bean curry’s my favorite though…mmmm.

  130. I made this recipe last week, and it is definitely one of my new favorites. It freezes well. I love your site– thanks for all the great recipes.

  131. I’ve made this 4 or 5 times in the month since I saw the recipe. We grow a few hundred pounds of beans for drying each year, and this is a great way to use the kidney beans. It’s a wonderful recipe and even popular among my spice–averse Costa Rican friends. Thank you!

  132. I wish I had something more substantive to report but all I can say is that I followed the recipe exactly and it came out amazing! Thank you.

  133. Just made this and it was delicious- we found that the second bowl was way more flavorful and rich than the first go around!

  134. Making this for the second time since discovering it a couple weeks ago. What an easy, delicious, recipe! I’ll be making this to accompany the other curries I make and enhancing our Indian meals. Thanks!

  135. I had homemade tomato sauce and crock pot cooked kidney beans in the freezer. They came in handy tonight, as I made this recipe! It is awesome. Thanks for this post.

  136. I am still confused about the water content. Do you only add the cup of water if the beans are drained? I didn’t drain the beans, did add the cup of water and there seemed to be too much liquid. Thanks.

  137. I’ve been making rajma for years (moms recipes). I find it comes out with a more infused flavor by throwing in dry beans (after rinsing), into the tomato sauce mixture and cooking for a few and then pressure cooking. (Or apparently slow cooking, which I have not yet done). Granted, this cooks longer than ten minutes, but the flavors marry better and you will see that the color of the sauce and the beans are the same- which is kind of what you are looking for. Otherwise the spices/ingredients. are spot on. Also, a great make ahead tip is to make the onions, etc up to the point of the tomato sauce. You can refrigerate this for a few days ahead of time to save time. (And also! Goes best with cumin rice! — the rice and rajma together = comfort food for most all indian kids)

  138. Made this last night, diiiiiiiiivine. Used one can of red kidney beans and one can of “white kidney” (cannellini) beans. ALSO threw in some fresh green beans which added an excellent texture variation, a bit of crunch next to the canned beans and added some garam masala spice. Served it with the Cauliflower and potato curry (also from SmittenKitchen) and needed to no rice or naan. My lovely dining companion (my Mom) decided we didn’t need to go out to Indian restaurants anymore ;)

  139. I made this the other day and also used half of the ginger quantity but I think I might raise it to 1/4 cup next time. This was so easy and so good.

  140. I am new to your site. After reading your book I discovered your blog and have been enjoying your posts regularly! Just made this recipe tonight with brown rice and a side of spinach w/onions and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the great inspiration!

  141. I’ve made this recipe MANY times now, and just today served it for some friends we have from India. They said it was perfect! No changes needed, it’s just right. Thanks for a great recipe. :)

  142. Mmmm! I cook Rajma every couple of months, but I lost my fav recipe. I found this one, and all I can say is I..am…SMITTEN!!! This will be my new go-to recipe for Rajma, and I will probably cook it at least every two weeks, if not once a week. I’m telling you, when I ran out of rice to have it with, I felt compelled to eat it on buttered toast, it was THAT good!

  143. I was looking for a vegan dish that gave red kidney beans a starring role, and here it is. Thank you for sharing it. I’ve made it a couple of times now, and it really is bowl-scraping delicious!

  144. Made it twice already! So Delicious! I added Fennel seeds at the end. Really, Really good! Thank you! This goes in my Favorite recipe Box

  145. I’ve made this twice now and I really enjoy it. Well, I’ve made it to the recipe once and made a riff on it tonight. For the riff I used one can kidneys, one can chickpeas, and half a container of tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes (roughly bean sized). I made it tonight because I received a gift of homemade plum chutney from a friend and wanted to try it (an excellent accompaniment!). I made rice seasoned with cardamom (two pods), cinnamon (half a stick), and turmeric (1/4 tsp) as a substrate for the curry and ratia as a topping. I also provided mango pickle for my curry mad husband and he gobbled the whole thing up and asked for seconds. This is not a familiar palate palette for me so I was happy to see him so enthusiastic about something I’d made. Thanks Smitten Kitchen!

  146. Hi! I want to make this but don’t want to purchase turmeric for just this recipe. Can I substitute it with curry powder? Or can I leave it out?

  147. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I accidentally bought kidney beans instead of black beans, and the only thing I’ve ever used kidney beans in is chili. So I found your recipe, made it (for the most part; I was missing fresh tomato, chili pepper, and cilantro, and had to use some leftover Italian marinara instead of plain tomato sauce), and I’m in love. Soooo good! Now I feel like I can do all sorts of things with kidney beans that I never considered before. I think next time I’ll add some cubed potatoes and peas. Thanks again!

  148. I was reading this rajma/kidney bean recipe …….and I made it your way which was obviously awesome ……….but next time I skipped the tomatoes totally ( as I am allergic to tomatoes) , instead I boiled the beans in full milk and just before removing from heat I add fresh cream and roasted cumin powder, believe me simply superb

  149. I’ve been looking for a good vegetarian curry recipe for ages and I finally found one! I made this today for my sisters and it was absolutely amazing. I’ve never tried Indian cuisine so this recipe was a lovely surprise! The amount of spices is perfect so the curry is not too hot or too mild. Perfection! The only thing I found different to what was stated in the recipe was the amount made barely allowed for 5 serves rather than 6. A wonderful recipe nonetheless and I will definitely be making again! I highly reccommend this to anyone reading :D

  150. I made this for a pack of river-canoe campers this summer. Premade a few chutneys, naan on the fire, and assembled this & the potato cauliflower dish on the sandbar. Amazing-a total switch up from usual campfire chili!

    As a side note, thanks for always posting reliable recipes. Smitten Kitchen is one of a handful of sites that I’m happy to see pop up in the google results. I never have to second guess the ingredients, technique, or anticipated results. Great job!

  151. Hi possible to make for 2 servings and how to cut the ingredient portion. Also instead of tomatoes in can possible to substitute it into fresh tomatoes.

  152. What a perfect Perfect Meatless Monday recipe! Instead of tomato sauce and a plum tomato, I added some diced tomatoes. I also used dried kidney beans, as I never really got into buying them canned (guess I just don’t find it cost-effective). I added a pat of butter at the end to finish it off, and I think it helped. So tasty! Thanks for another wonderful dinner!

  153. Thanks for the recipe. Good work realizing you could do it without the spice mix, I would have the same secret shame about that! even though I know a lot of Asian cooks now use these mixes.
    When my mother used to make this daal we would have boiled eggs in it too and serve over white rice with yogurt or a glass of milk! yum

  154. I made this tonight and it was delicious (as if there was ever any doubt)!

    I originally bought dry kidney beans to use, but ended up using canned because I didn’t know exactly what was meant by “boiled kidney beans.” If using dry beans, how long are they to be boiled? I asked a couple people and evidently we are all new to dry beans and don’t know how to go about boiling beans for use in recipe.

  155. I was scouring the web for “kidney bean recipes” and came upon this recipe. THANK YOU!! I DOUBLED the recipe and followed it exactly as written. This is my kind of meal. Lately I’ve been searching for more beans as protein options in an attempt to reduce meat from my families diet. Such a perfect recipe.

    WINNER!!

    P.S. – Read in a comment to add cinnamon. You’re an amazing person.

  156. Made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! My husband also said it was yummy and he’s not an easy to please eater! thanks so much for the recipe!

  157. I’m SO late to the party, no one will every read this but wanted to include my additions anyway–

    I made this more in the style of frijoles a la charra– that being, I started off the pot with 4 pieces of bacon, drained the pot of grease, and used that to saute my veggies. I used the same spices called for, but doubled them to make up for the fact that I used an entire bag of pre-soaked dried red kidney beans, and quadrupled the amount of tomatoes used, and added 2 tsp smoked paprika. Instead of water I used the soaking juice from the beans and supplemented with beef stock. Simmered for almost 2 hours and added 2 tsp Garam Masala and lemon zest right towards the end along with the cilantro. a bit of extra work but SOO worth the end result

  158. Inspiring recipe, thank you! I couldn’t believe how quickly this came together. I used some oven roasted tomatoes which I blended -inspired by your summertime salsa recipe, it was a lot so I skipped the addition of water and had to substitute half of the red beans with chickpeas. I will probably not be accepted in Rajmah heaven, but it was still absolutely delicious!

  159. Thank you, Deb. This recipe sounds delicious. One question though: why ground cumin AND cumin seeds? Can I just use more of the ground cumin?

    Thanks! Marie

    1. Marie — Yes, you can. If you have both, I like the slightly different flavors I get from each, but no worries if you just have one or the other.

  160. Yes, I know this recipe was originally posted ages ago, but wanted you to know we’ve been making it routinely for about 2 years now and it’s so easy, cheap, filling and yummy. We throw spinach into it. Or kale. Or whatever green thing we have lying around. It works well with just about anything. Thanks for sharing!

  161. A tip in pursuit of ‘authenticity’ — usually, there is no turmeric in homemade rajma curry. My Punjabi friends (this is a typically Punjabi dish) say that the yellow of the turmeric ruins the deep, dark, dense red of the tomato gravy — which should also be velvety-smooth. Turmeric is also avoided in cooking spinach and other greens for the same aesthetic reason — otherwise you get a weird greenish-yellow tinge. Ready mixes tend to put in the turmeric because it helps to preserve the spice mix. (Just saying!)

  162. Really good! We ended up using a 15 oz can of tomato sauce, and had to add some more spices – and it was SO fantastic. Great job.

  163. Hi, this looks delicious! Just a quick question, if using dried beans, how much water should there be in the entire dish exactly?

    This step “Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus one additional cup of water” doesn’t specify how much water to use aside from the additional cup! Do you mean use the water the dried beans were cooked in separately?

    Thanks in advance!

  164. I work with quite a few indian families in their homes and am curious why the spices aren’t tempered in oil? I thought it sort of a standard to toast the spices in the oil. The smell of cumin and coriander toasted is an amazing experience and adds that much more flavor to the dish rather then dumping it in with the liquids to just boil.

  165. Delicious! I doubled the recipe and made some changes, based on what I had in my pantry. I cut the oil to 1/2 cup (for a doubled recipe), omitted the turmeric and fresh cilantro b/c I was out, and substituted: crushed canned tomatoes for the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes, pickled jalapenos for the fresh green chili, and bean-cooking water for the water. I only had 5 cups of cooked kidney beans, so I also added a half-cup of dried red lentils and some extra liquid. I had to simmer it for 30 minutes instead of 10, to cook the lentils and crushed tomatoes. Lots of depth and fresh flavours. Have been trying different rajma recipes looking for a keeper — and I think this is it!

  166. Made this recipe tonight and it was delicious! The only changes I made were less ginger (I used tablespoon and a half) 2 small Roma tomatoes and a little more garlic (because I love garlic) A MUST TRY:)

  167. One really important change would be to sautee the spices in oil before adding the tomatoes. Heating up the spices to create a proper masala is a fundamental basic of Indian cooking.

  168. The words “large green chili” can mean so many different things. So, what would you recommend? Anaheim? Pasilla? Or ???? (assuming you don’t mean large jalapeno)

    And since we’re talking, thoughts on veg to serve alongside this?

    Thanks

    1. Helen — Use any kind that you like. I tend to be vague because I know some people will want a very hot one and others prefer the mild kick from a poblano. Jalapeno is fine too, you might want to use two as they don’t come large. For the side, how about roasted carrots or brussels, or maybe this simple cabbage salad? It’s all about that mustard seed dressing; I adore it.

  169. Wow, this was easy, quick, and so delicious! Popped into my Instagram feed and knew we had to try it. Couldn’t put my hands on an 8oz can of tomato sauce so we tossed in the entire 15oz-er, so maybe it was saucier than intended but phenomenal sopped up with a piece of naan. I usually shy away from the more tomato-y Indian dishes because they seem too acidic, but the nice big kidney beans really mellowed that out. So good!

  170. I just made this as my son is on an Indian food kick, me and hubby not so much but this recipe and your Chana masala have converted us. I made a few changes. For the tomato I used a 1/2 can (15 oz size) of diced tomatoes. I used a jalapeño and cut the cayenne to 1/8 tsp. It was still very spicy, next time I might cut the cayenne more. I used freshly cooked beans, and probably added closer to 4 cups. I added an additional cup of water. It’s a great make ahead dish. Deb thanks for giving me credibility with my son!

  171. I was thinking I wanted to try the spice mix, as it would be less expensive than buying all of the spices. I HAD the spices already in my cabinet, but I worried they might be old and lack flavor. The website for the spice mix says it’s at our local Whole Foods and one other local store, neither of which had ever heard of that brand. Oh well. Went to the local Indian shop to see if they had a mix, but they didn’t. They did have inexpensive spices though, and the woman said that traditionally you want some garam masala in the recipe as well. So I made it without the garam masala, tasted it, then added it. It added a nice touch, and I think I will add it in the future. This was a delicious recipe, and my husband said he’d eat it once a week, he liked it so much. So I made it last week, and we’re having it again tonight. Thanks, I’ve never had this dish before, and it’s delicious.