Dinner Tonight: Punjabi Rajma (Kidney Bean and Tomato Curry) Recipe

Dinner Tonight

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Dinner Tonight: Punjabi Rajma (Kidney Bean and Tomato Curry) Recipe

[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

When I think of kidney beans, my mind usually wanders down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. That's when I start dreaming of perfect red beans and rice. It's one of my favorite meals—I'd make it much more often if it didn't take so long. Other than that, I occasionally find kidney beans in bland soups or bowls of chili (though not Texas chili, of course). So, I was little surprised to see them pop up in this Indian recipe from Lisa's Kitchen. Who knew kidney beans were so popular in Northern India?

Oddly, it's the onions that kind of make this dish. They reduce down to a paste that picks up all the flavors from the spices and chiles. Only the beans can slightly calm the bout of spice.

Starting with dried beans would be the far more traditional route but this quick version is still surprisingly good. It's just another reason why I adore vegetarian Indian cuisine so much.

  • Yield:2 to 3


  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 inch of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 hot red or green chiles stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt


  1. 1.

    Pour the oil into a large pot set over medium heat. Toss in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook for 2 minutes, or until very fragrant.

  2. 2.

    Dump in the chopped tomato, along with the coriander, cayenne, cumin, and turmeric. Cook until the tomatoes break apart and start to thicken into a sauce, about 10 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Pour in the kidney beans, lemon juice, a cup of water, and half of the parsley. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is very thick. Serve with rice or flat bread, and sprinkle with more parsley. Season to taste with salt.