Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry a favorite comfort food for many. Made in an instant pot with a heavy onion tomato masala base, this vegan & gluten-free recipe is a keeper!

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Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Beans Curry a favorite comfort food for many. Made in an instant pot with a heavy onion tomato masala base, this vegan & gluten-free recipe is a keeper!

red kidney beans cooked in a onion tomato gravy


Rajma is hindi for Red Kidney Beans. Rajma masala is a very popular north Indian dish that made with a thick tomato gravy. To most (including my husband), rajma-chawal is a sentiment. Thick tangy rajma served with some piping hot rice with a side of some pickled onion is heaven!

There are two shades of color on the rajma. Pink rajma or a dark red rajma. For the authentic Punjabi taste, I have used the pink variety.

However, either rajma work.


  • This rajma dish is vegan and gluten-free.
  • If are a vegetarian, Rajma, or kidney beans are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber for you.
  • Made in instant pot, this recipe can be made in no time.
  • Tastes better the next day.
  • Can be used as an one pot meal. Pair a bowl of rajma masala with some grilled chicken and your weekday dinner is sorted.
Learn how to make authentic rajma masala by cooking red kidney beans in a onion tomato gravy


  • Red Kidney Beans or Rajma: I have used pink colored red kidney beans. Rajma or kidney beans are easily available in almost all the grocery stores.
  • Tomatoes: 5 fresh tomatoes are used in this recipe
  • Ginger-Garlic Paste: 2 tbsp ginger and garlic paste is used
  • Cumin Powder/Jeera Powder: 1 tsp cumin powder is used
  • Coriander powder/Dhania powder: 2 tsp coriander powder is used
  • Salt, Turmeric
  • Garam Masala Powder: 1 tsp garam masala is used
Delicious rajma masala cooked in a thick tomato masala base


Soak the dry red kidney beans overnight.

Wash the soaked beans couple times and add to the instant pot. Add enough water to cover the beans – my rule of thumb is double the amount of rajma. Put the instant pot on manual and set the timer for 30 minutes.

(see pic below)

In a non stick pan, heat oil. Add chopped onion and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes till you get that golden color.

(see pic below)

NOTE – instead of onion paste, chopped onion works better in this rajma recipe.

Add ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

(see pic below)

Puree the tomatoes with a couple spoons of boiled rajma/red kidney beans. (see pic below)

Add the pureed tomatoes to the onion ginger garlic masala and cook for 25/30 minutes on low heat. The amount of tomatoes may seem like a lot but trust me, they add to the taste. (see pic below)

NOTE- The longer you take to make the masala base correctly, 80% of your job in ensuring to achieve the authentic Punjabi rajma will be done.

NOTE – Make sure you use good quality organic tomatoes

How do you know the masala is ready to be added to the boiled rajma in instant pot?

The masala will thicken up and there will be a beautiful aroma. (see pic below)

Once the masala is ready, pour this masala to the rajma in the instant pot. Set it up for manual for 15 minutes.


Punjabi style rajma masala goes very well with steamed rice or jeera rice. Some prefer rajma with some paratha too.

If you are watching your carbs, then enjoy a bowl of rajma masala with some chopped onion and some lemon juice.


Follow my tried and tested tips below to get the authentic rajma masala taste and texture.

Soak red kidney beans for at least 6 to 8 hours prior to making the rajma masala: It may sounds like a task, but trust me, this step will give you the authentic Punjabi rajma masala that you are looking for. This process of soaking also reduces the boiling time and make your rajma melt-in-the-mouth soft.

Google says that soaking helps reduce the amount of phytic acid which reduces absorption of important nutrients and aids in digestion.

Use fresh tomatoes: Again, if you ask me, its very important to use fresh tomatoes. The canned tomatoes don’t provide that good of a taste. For some reason, I also find canned tomatoes to be sweeter.

You can never have enough tomatoes in this rajma masala recipe. For 6 cups of boiled rajma, I have used 5 tomatoes.

Puree the tomatoes: pureeing the tomatoes with couple spoons of rajma, adds texture to rajma masala. This process also makes the gravy thicker and gives it the masala texture instead of the runny gravy texture.

Punjabi rajma masala recipe cooked made in instant pot


Can I still make rajma if I forgot to pre-soak the red kidney beans?

yes, absolutely you can still make rajma masala and enjoy it with some chawal even if you forgot to pre-soak the beans. Just heat water and soak the red kidney beans in the hot water for an hour or two.

Can I use canned beans?

Yes, you can use canned beans. If you choose to use the canned beans, then, rinse the beans well. You won’t have to boil the beans. You will skip the boiling step.

Can I freeze the left over rajma masala?

Yes you can freeze the rajma masala in the freezer for couple months. Thaw in room temperature and then heat in microwave before you are ready to serve.

How/what do I serve rajma masala with?

  • Chawal/Rice with some mint chutney and onions
  • Jeera rice/cumin rice
  • Naan
  • Roti

Other Vegetarian Recipes you will love –

Vegetarian Dal

Aloo Tamatar ki Subzi

Spicy Peanut Chutney

Instant pot rajma masala recipe
Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry a favorite comfort food for many. Made in an instant pot with a heavy onion tomato masala base, this vegan & gluten-free recipe is a keeper!

Rajma Masala Recipe (Instant Pot)

Rajma Masala, Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry a favorite comfort food for many. Made in an instant pot with a heavy onion tomato masala base, this vegan & gluten-free recipe is a keeper!
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Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr
Servings 10


  • 1 Instant Pot Or, Pressure Cooker
  • 1 Non-stick Pan To make the masala base



  • 1 TBSP Coriander Powder
  • 1 TSP Jeera Powder/Cumin Powder
  • 1 TSP Garam Masala
  • 1 TSP Chili Powder
  • Salt to taste


  • 5 Medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Finely Chopped Red Onion
  • 1 TBSP Ginger Garlic Paste


  • 1/4 Cup Olive oil


  • 2 Cups Dry Red kidney beans soaked over night with 4 cups water


  • 2 TBSP Heavy Cream (optional)
  • 2 TBSP Chopped Coriander/cilantro



  • Rinse and soak the 2 cups of dry rajma with 4 or 5 cups of water overnight.
  • Drain the water and add the soaked rajma to the instant pot. Close and turn on the vent. Cook on manual mode for 45 minutes.
  • Wait for the pressure to release naturally.
  • NOTE – the texture of the boiled rajma should be very soft yet they should be holding their shape.


  • Heat a pan with oil.
  • Add chopped onion and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes or till the onions become translucent.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt and cook on low heat for few minutes.
  • While the onion ginger garlic paste is cooking, blend tomatoes with a spoonful of boiled rajma. This is your tomato puree for the rajma masala.
  • Add the tomato puree to the onion, ginger, and garlic masala. Add salt and garam masala and keep cooking on low heat for about 20/25 minutes.
    NOTE Keep sautéing so that the masala doesn't stick to the bottom or burn.
  • You will know the masala base for rajma is ready when the mixture turns thick and start to smell good.
  • Transfer the masala to the instant pot and give it a good stir so that the boiled rajma inside the instant pot gets coated with the masala. Add some water (depending on your preference) and close the lid of the instant pot again. Cook on manual for another 10 minutes (without the vent)
  • If you want the restaurant taste, you can add a couple of spoons of heavy cream to the rajma masala. Serve on top of some rice!


  1. Red kidney beans come in a few different varieties. They vary in color and size, which results in different pressure cooking times. This recipe uses a medium-size dark kidney bean variety, in which the beans are typically around ¼-inch long. If using the larger variety of kidney beans, increase the pressure cooking time to 40-45 mins.
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  1. I feel like I can taste the flavors through the screen I love trying new recipes especially from different cultures. Thank you for the post!

  2. Do you cook the beans in an additional 4 cups of water and drain, or leave it there and add the gravy?

  3. There is something about Asian cuisines that make my heart glow. Maybe, it is the strong aroma of the dishes or I dont know. Anyway, the red kidney beans caught my fancy. I rememer my favorite breakfast of long ago – pork and beans.

  4. Yum! This looks so good! I never use my instant pot very much because I don’t feel very confident using it, but this looks like something I could totally make!

  5. I’m confused. When cooking the kidney beans don’t you need water to create the steam. I always use a minimum of 1 cup of liquid in the IP when pressure cooking.

  6. This recipe is so new to me! It looks so delicious and tasty. Cant wait to try this.

  7. I love recipes with kidney beans. I only use them in chili or beans and rice so this is nice.

  8. In step 4.4.03 tumeric is listed as ingredients, but are not in the final recipe. Is it an essential ingredient? Is ginger garlic paste a commercial product or fresh mix of ginger and garlic?

  9. This looked so good but had confusing ingredient list and instructions (things listed in ingredient list not mentioned in instructions). Then no replies from myyellowapron we people questioned this. Had to find other recipes to compare.

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