Rajma Dal: Red Kidney Bean Curry

Rajma Dal: Red Kidney Bean Curry

The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 18 mins
Cook: 42 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
194 Calories
6g Fat
29g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 109mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 30mg 152%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 639mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Rajma dal is a red kidney bean curry that is a popular dish in northern India, though it's enjoyed throughout the country. It is a tasty vegetarian recipe that cooks the beans in a spicy masala paste featuring ginger, garlic, chiles, and tomatoes.

In addition to various meats and vegetables, Indian curries can be made using a variety of legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans. They make a filling vegetarian or vegan main dish or can be served as part of a big meal.

If you're looking for a satisfying and warming weeknight meal, this is an excellent choice. The rustic dish is cooked in a single pan and is very easy to make. To complete the meal, it's traditional to serve rajma dal with plain boiled rice, kachumber salad, and a pickle of your choice.

"This made a tasty vegetarian meal with rice, and it was easy to prepare and cook. The mashed beans thickened the curry nicely." —Diana Rattray

Rajma Red Kidney Bean Curry Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped

  • 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 green chiles, stemmed and finely chopped

  • 2 large tomatoes, cored and chopped into 1-inch cubes

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3 cups red kidney beans (2 [15-ounce] cans, drained and rinsed)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 pinch asafetida (hing) powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

  • Cooked rice and kachumber salad, suggested for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Rajma Dal: Red Kidney Bean Curry ingredients

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. In a deep pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, add the onions and fry until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

    In a deep pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes.

    Add the ginger and garlic to the onions in the pot

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Add the green chiles, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric, and fry until the oil separates from the masala, about 10 minutes.

    Add the green chiles, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric to the onion mixture

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Add the red kidney beans, warm water, and asafetida, as well as the salt to taste. Cook until the beans are soft, and the sauce has reduced a bit to your desired consistency, about 25 minutes.

    Add beans and water to the mixture in the pot

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  6. Mash some of the beans roughly to thicken the sauce.

    Mash some of the beans roughly to thicken the sauce

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  7. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice and kachumber salad.

    Rajma Dal: Red Kidney Bean Curry in a pot

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar


  • For an even better curry, cook kidney beans from dried instead of using canned beans. Soak the dried beans in water overnight and drain. Add the soaked beans to a pot, covering with about an inch of water. Bring to a low simmer and check after about an hour, adding more water as needed. The beans are done when they are tender.
  • For less intense heat, seed the chile peppers before chopping.
  • Serve with your choice of store-bought or homemade pickles.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate leftover rajma dal in an airtight container for three to five days.
  • To freeze, transfer the rajma dal to freezer containers or zip-close freezer bags. Label the container with the name and date and freeze for up to six months.
  • Defrost frozen rajma dal overnight in the refrigerator and reheat gently in a saucepan on the stovetop.

What is asafetida (or asafoetida)?

Asafetida is a pungent dried substance from the rhizome or tap root of Ferula, a perennial herb. It is used in very small amounts—usually a tiny pinch—and has a flavor likened to onions. It is commonly found in Indian vegetarian cuisine, where it acts as a savory flavor enhancer. In Indian cuisine, asafetida is also known as hing.

What is meant by "cook until the oil separates from the masala?"

This is a typical instruction in Indian cooking. It means to cook or fry the spice mixture in hot fat until the mixture loses moisture and forms a paste, with the oil pooling, or separating. This can take from 10 to 20 minutes.