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! The left over rice – there always is – we’d make egg fried rice, see curried eggs recipe and combine the two!



  • 400g tin cooked red kidney beans (in water)
  • 1 medium sized finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 cube minced garlic (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • 1 cube minced ginger (1 and a half tsp per frozen cube)
  • 1 tsp minced chillies (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • x2 ladels blitzed tinned tomatoes
  • 1-1 and a half tsp Maldon sea salt
  • chopped coriander – stalk and leaves (1 pinch of stalks, 2 pinches of leaves or to taste)
  • 1 cup of water (more if you want more gravy)


Chawal (Rice)

  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • x4 whole peppercorns
  • x3 cloves
  • 2 tsp Maldon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup 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. You need a light touch with vegetarian dishes, and over spicing can be a common mistake for those new to cooking Indian food.

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 20-30 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-large lidded sauce pan, fry the chopped onion, cumin seeds and salt in some vegetable oil. Cook on a moderate heat until the onions become translucent and soft.

3. Next add the garlic, ginger and minced chillies (remember you can add more chillies later if needs be). Allow to cook out.

4. Now add the garam masala and turmeric. 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, then add in the chopped coriander stalks.

5. Next put in the tomatoes. Increase hob heat, and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. When you can see oil on the surface of the spiced tomato mixture/the oil has taken on the tomato colour, that means it’s cooked and 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 put the water in. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, then allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Part cover the saucepan with the lid. (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 fry the chopped onions, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and salt, in some vegetable oil on a moderate heat until the onions become soft. Then add in the water and mix. Test the seasoning here, you don’t want your rice to be bland so you need a good amount of salt.

8. Rinse and sieve the rice, ensuring you get rid of the excess starch – the water should run clear – your rice will be stodgy otherwise. Place the rice in the seasoned water you have prepared. Mix and bring to the boil, place a firm lid on the saucepan (so no steam can escape), reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid at any point. Fork through before serving.

9. Your rajma should be cooked by this point, scatter with a flurry of chopped coriander leaves.