Discover Secrets of Indian home food


Rajma Chawal


Rajma chawal is as traditional a Punjabi dish as you can get. See it as a comfort food as it were. Rajma is a great source of protein for vegetarians, yet offers a meaty texture for carnivores.

There is a good reason for its popularity across India – that it is utterly delicious! With the left over rice – there always is – you can make egg fried rice, see curried eggs (bhurji) recipe and combine the two!



  • x1 400g tin cooked red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 medium sized brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated
  • equal volume grated ginger to garlic
  • 1-2 green finger chilies, slit in half lengthways
  • half tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 100ml passata
  • 1 to 1 and a half tsp sea salt
  • chopped coriander to taste
  • 1 cup of water (more if you want more gravy)


Chawal (Rice)

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water, just boiled
  • half a small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • x4 whole peppercorns
  • x2 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • handful of frozen garden peas
Prep Time:
5-10 minutes
Cooking Time:
20-25 minutes
Cook’s Tip:

If you choose to double up on this recipe to serve 4-6, you don’t need to double up on the spices/tarka, .5 would be fine.

Serving Suggestion:

Well the name kinda gives it away, you serve rajma with rice. But you can serve with roti (chapatti) or paratha if you really prefer bread! Break the rules go wild!


1. Rinse your rice under cold water then soak (for at least 30 minutes) and set aside. Sieve the kidney beans, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

2. Start the ‘tarka’ for the rajma. Take a medium sized lidded sauce pan, saute the onions and cumin seeds in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil on a moderate heat until the onions become translucent and soft.

3. Next add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook out for a couple of minutes.

4. Now add the garam masala, turmeric and salt and toast off for 30 seconds. If the pan is too dry add a splash of water so the spices don’t stick to the pan and burn. Allow the spices to cook out for a minute.

5. Next pour in the passata. Increase the hob heat, and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook out for 5 minutes or so. When you can see the oil has separated on the surface it’s ready to taste. Check your seasoning here, and adjust as desired.

6. Add the kidney beans to the pan, mix and ensure these are all coated in the tarka, then tip in the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer  part covered for about 15 minutes then remove from the heat. The kidney beans are already cooked, this is to allow the gravy to reduce, and for the beans to absorb the flavour.

7. Now divert your attention to the rice. We are going to use the absorption method. Take a medium sized lidded saucepan, and saute the onions, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and salt, in some vegetable oil on a moderate heat until the onions become soft. Boil your kettle in the meantime.

8. Thoroughly drain the rice and stir through the onions along with the peas. Add 2 cups of just boiled water and stir again. Taste the water,  you can add more salt if required. Bring the water to a boil, then slam on the lid immediately to trap the steam. Reduce the heat to medium and allow to cook for 10-12 minutes. You can check after 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Replace the lid and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Fork through before serving.

9. Your rajma should be cooked by this point, garnish with chopped coriander.