How to Make Rajma Chawal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Rajma Chawal is a classic North Indian dish that combines red kidney beans (rajma) cooked in a rich, flavorful gravy and served over steamed rice (chawal). This comfort food is a favorite in many households and is known for its simplicity, heartiness, and delicious taste. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make Rajma Chawal at home, ensuring a perfect balance of flavors and textures.


For the Rajma (Kidney Bean Curry):

  • 1 cup red kidney beans (rajma), soaked overnight
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 2-3 green chilies, slit
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped (for garnish)

For the Chawal (Rice):

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • Salt to taste


Step 1: Preparing the Rajma

  1. Soak the Rajma: Rinse the red kidney beans thoroughly and soak them in water overnight. This helps in softening the beans, making them easier to cook.
  2. Cook the Rajma: Drain the soaked beans and transfer them to a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans and a pinch of salt. Cook the beans on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. If using a stovetop pot, it may take longer.
  3. Check for Doneness: Once cooked, the beans should be soft and easily mashable. If they are still firm, cook them for a few more minutes.

Step 2: Making the Rajma Gravy

  1. Heat Oil/Ghee: In a large pan or skillet, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  2. Sauté Onions: Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown. This step is crucial for developing a rich flavor.
  3. Add Ginger-Garlic Paste: Stir in the ginger-garlic paste and green chilies. Cook for a minute until the raw smell disappears.
  4. Add Tomato Puree: Pour in the tomato puree and cook until the oil starts to separate from the mixture. This indicates that the tomatoes are well-cooked and the raw taste is gone.
  5. Spice It Up: Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Combine with Rajma: Add the cooked kidney beans along with their cooking liquid to the pan. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Simmer the Gravy: Let the rajma simmer on low heat for about 20-25 minutes. This allows the beans to absorb the flavors of the spices and tomatoes. If the gravy thickens too much, you can add a little water to adjust the consistency.
  8. Finish with Garam Masala: Sprinkle garam masala and mix well. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Step 3: Preparing the Chawal (Rice)

  1. Rinse the Rice: Wash the basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming sticky.
  2. Cook the Rice: In a pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed rice, salt, and a tablespoon of oil or ghee. Stir once and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let the rice simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  3. Fluff the Rice: Once done, turn off the heat and let the rice sit covered for another 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Serving Rajma Chawal

To serve, place a generous portion of steamed rice on a plate and ladle the hot rajma curry over it. Garnish with additional coriander leaves if desired. Rajma Chawal pairs well with a side of sliced onions, green chilies, and a wedge of lemon.

Tips for the Perfect Rajma Chawal

  • Soaking Beans: Always soak the rajma overnight to reduce cooking time and ensure they become tender.
  • Spices: Adjust the spice levels according to your preference. You can add more green chilies or red chili powder for extra heat.
  • Consistency: The gravy should be thick enough to coat the beans but not too watery. Adjust the consistency by adding water as needed.
  • Resting Time: Allowing the rajma to rest for a few hours or even overnight enhances the flavors, making the dish even more delicious.


Rajma Chawal is more than just a dish; it’s a bowl of comfort that brings warmth and satisfaction with every bite. Whether you’re enjoying it on a lazy weekend or serving it to guests, this recipe is sure to impress with its rich, hearty flavors. Follow this step-by-step guide to create a memorable meal that embodies the essence of traditional Indian cuisine.

Enjoy your homemade Rajma Chawal, and don’t forget to share this recipe with friends and family who love Indian food!

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