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Rajma-Red Kidney Beans in Spiced Gravy (gluten-free)

Rajma-Red Kidney Beans in Spiced Gravy (gluten-free)

Rajma- Red Kidney Beans in Spiced Gravy ( Gluten-Free)

What is Rajma?

Rajma also known as Rajma Masala are red kidney beans simmered in a blend of aromatic spices to create a creamy, thick spiced gravy.  A naturally gluten free meal with dairy free and vegan options.

Rajma is a classic staple in many North Indian and Pakistani households (similar to a dal) and one that I grew up eating. I now make it for my own family and it’s one of my kids most requested meals!

This recipe is part of our Flavors of Culture series and uses home-made allergy-friendly garam masala.

How do you serve Rajma?

Traditionally, this dish is served with white basmati rice also known as chawal or Rajma Chawal. In addition, I like to serve red onions as a garnish with a squeeze of lemon and fresh cilantro.

Rajma with Chawal or Basmati Rice
Cilantro for Rajma

Family friendly, gluten-free and freezer friendly

Typically, this dish is made with chili powder which adds color and heat.  Instead of chili powder, I’ve used tomato paste and paprika. You can leave out green chili to make it family friendly.

If you don’t enjoy cilantro, leave it out and replace with parsley. This gluten-free rajma can also be made free from most common allergens.

It is a tasty dinner option for Meatless Monday and you can make it vegan. It’s also a handy dish to batch cook and keep in the freezer. When we have family gatherings to attend where I know my daughter will not be eating the food served, I defrost and make rice to serve with it.

Beans are a staple in our home. I’ve made this recipe with canned beans which you can always find in our pantry. If you are looking for more recipes using beans, check out our roundup of favorite allergy-friendly bean recipes.

Is it difficult to make?

Rajma-Red kidney beans with spiced gravy

You can save loads of time if you prepare the allergy-friendly garam masala spice mix ahead. or purchase a store bought blend. We make our own because it’s fresher and safer for our family with food allergies.

You can also be more efficient by having all of your ingredients ready and measured out in advance since everything comes together quickly. For instance, I like to set all my ingredients on a sheet pan which helps with keeping your mess contained in one place too!

Watch us make Rajma!

If you are intimidated to cook South Asian cuisine, give this rajma a try. If you make it, tag #eatzestfull. We love to see and share what you’re cooking! ma


Rajma-Red kidney beans in spiced gravy (gluten-free)

  • Author: Shahla
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Rajma also known as Rajma Masala are red kidney beans simmered in aromatic spices to create a thick spiced gravy. Gluten-free with dairy free & vegan options. 

See Also
Egg-free cakes roundup



  • 3 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil like avocado or olive 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 cup fine diced onion, about 1 small onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, about 3 large cloves
  • 1 small green chili or to taste, fine chopped *Optional 
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes. About 2-3 medium tomatoes with skin and seeds. 
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika or red chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3 tablespoon full fat yogurt plus 1 tablespoon milk (omit for dairy free option)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups water or broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon 
  • Cilantro, parsley and/or mint to garnish


  1. Warm a large saucepan on medium heat. Add ghee or oil
  2. When oil is warm, add whole cumin seeds. Stir to prevent burning. 
  3. When cumin seeds crackle and release fragrance about 30 seconds, add onion. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  4. Saute onions for 5 minutes or until translucent. 
  5. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 1 minute. 
  6. Add green chili if using. *Optional 
  7. Add pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. Increase heat to medium-high heat and mixture bubbles. Stir until ghee/oil separates, tomato mixture thickens and reduces into a paste-like consistency, about 3 minutes. 
  8. Lower heat. Add ground paprika, ground turmeric and garam masala. Saute until raw smell of spices disappear. about 1 minute. 
  9. Turn up heat to high. Add yogurt/milk mixture and sauté for 30 sec until completely blended. *Omit this step for dairy free option.  
  10. Add beans, liquid and bayleaf
  11. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until beans are soft but not mushy. 
  12. Mash 1/4 cup of beans with a potato masher or spoon.
  13. Add 1 teaspoon salt. 
  14. Adjust with additional liquid to desired consistency. Adjust salt. Squeeze lemon and garnish. 


Save time and use crushed tomatoes in a can. Puree in a small food processor if chunky. 

I like to grate ginger using a microplane zester

Rajma freezes well. Add liquid (water or broth) when reheating to loosen up. 

If using yogurt/milk mixture- make sure your heat is high and don’t add salt until instructed otherwise your Rajma will be grainy and yogurt will curdle.

Our favorite kitchen tools to make and store Rajma

More recipes from our Flavors of Culture series

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