Instant Pot Punjabi Rajma Masala

What is Rajma Masala?

Rajma Masala, a beloved comfort dish featuring Indian Red Kidney Bean Curry, pairs perfectly with rice, rotis, or nan. Whether prepared in an instant pot or a conventional pressure cooker, mastering the art of Rajma is a delight.

Try this yummy high-protein, vegan, and gluten-free dish with rice or nan. In Indian households, this dish is accompanied by “anchar” pickles, red onions, and finely chopped fresh cilantro. Delicious!

Rajma Masala is a popular Indian dish that features Red Kidney Beans (rajma) cooked in a thick, flavorful, and aromatic tomato-based curry. The curry is typically infused with a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, garam masala, and others, creating a rich and hearty flavor profile. Rajma Masala is often enjoyed with rice or Indian bread, such as naan or roti.

punjabi rajma chawal recipee

This dish is a staple in many North Indian households and is cherished for its comforting and satisfying taste. It is also known for its high protein content, making it a nutritious choice, especially for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

In this recipe, I have used canned beans. Remember to rinse them 2 to 3 times before you use them. If you prefer using dry kidney beans, soak them for 8 hours or night. Always discard the water it soaks in, use fresh water for cooking, and adjust the time.

In this recipe, I’ve also used pre-made fried onions from the Whole Foods brand. I believe they complement this recipe excellently, adding a rich texture to the gravy.

The best part is this is a high-protein dish just like my  Vegan Mutter Paneer!

How I cook Punjabi Rajma Masala in Instant Pot

In my kitchen, I let the Instant Pot do its thing to make Punjabi Rajma – a tasty mix of beans, spices, and good stuff. I start with cumin seeds sizzling in hot oil, then toss in onions, ginger, and garlic. Add tomatoes and spices, and let it all cook under pressure for 20 minutes.

When the Instant Pot beeps, I check for any extra liquid and cook a bit more if needed. If you like it thicker, give the beans a little mash with a spoon. Top it off with cilantro and maybe red onions or chopped fresh green chilies if you’re feeling spicy. That’s how I cook Punjabi Rajma – it’s like a cozy hug in a bowl, thanks to the trusty Instant Pot!

Why should you cook Rajma Masala?

Kidney beans, the nutritional powerhouse at the heart of Rajma Masala, offer a host of health benefits. Packed with plant-based protein, they support muscle health and provide a satisfying, meat-free protein source. Beyond that, kidney beans are rich in fiber, promoting digestive well-being and contributing to weight management. Their complex carbohydrates offer a sustained release of energy, making them a valuable component for maintaining consistent vitality throughout the day.

Additionally, kidney beans boast essential minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, supporting various bodily functions from blood circulation to immune system health. Being low in fat and high in antioxidants further enhances their nutritional profile, making kidney beans not just a flavorful addition to Rajma Masala but also a wholesome ingredient that contributes to overall nutrition and well-being. In my opinion, it is a perfect dish for vegans out there!


–  3 15.5 oz cans of kidney beans. Rinsed thoroughly

–  3 tablespoon Oil

– 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste

– 1 cup thinly sliced onions

– ½ cup pre-fried onions ( I use Whole Foods brand)

– ½ cup tomato sauce

– 1.5 cups Water, for cooking

Note: if you prefer not to use fried onions, use 1.5 cups of fresh thinly sliced onions.


– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

– 1 crushed black cardamom

– 1 2″ cinnamon stick

– 4 crushed cloves

– 4 crushed green cardamom

– 2 bay leaves

– 1/2 teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)

– 1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)

– ½ teaspoon fennel powder

– 1/2  teaspoon Garam Masala

– 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili powder (Mirchi powder). Add paprika instead if you don’t like any heat.

– 1.5 teaspoon Salt (adjust to taste)


– Chopped Red Onion

– Chopped Cilantro

– Fried onions


1. Start the instant pot and select the Saute mode until it displays HOT. Add oil, and when it’s hot, toss in the cumin seeds.

2. After cumin seeds turn fragrant, add sliced onions. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Add ginger garlic paste.

3. Add tomato sauce and spices. Stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Add rinsed kidney beans fried onions and salt.

5. Add water.

5. Close the lid with the vent sealed. Switch the setting to cook mode and set the timer to 20 minutes for high-pressure cooking. Once the instant pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally, then open the lid.

6. If there’s excess liquid, set the instant pot to cook or saute and boil off the extra liquid.

7. Mash some beans with the back of a spoon if you prefer a thicker consistency.

8. Spoon it out and garnish with chopped cilantro and red onions (optional).

Just like my Chole chana masala, I have cooked this rajma masala in an instant pot with delicious results. A great shortcut that is not short on flavors!

 Frequently Asked Questions about Making Punjabi Rajma:

1. Q: Is it okay to use dry red kidney beans?

A: Absolutely! The traditional approach calls for using dried beans soaked before cooking. However, if you’re short on time, you can opt for canned beans.

Just keep in mind, if using dry beans, soak them for at least 8 hours before cooking and adjust the instant pot cooking time to 30 minutes until the beans are soft.

2. Q: What is the best type of pot to cook Punjabi Rajma?

A: A pressure cooker or an instant pot is commonly used for cooking Punjabi Rajma. These appliances help in reducing the cooking time and ensure that the beans are tender.

3. Q: Can I freeze Punjabi Rajma for later use?

A: Yes, this recipe freezes well. Allow it to cool completely before transferring to airtight containers. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

4. Q: How do I adjust the spice level in Punjabi Rajma?

A: You can control the spice level by adjusting the quantity of red chili powder or green chilies according to your preference. Start with a smaller amount and add more if needed.

5. Q: Can I make Punjabi Rajma without onion and garlic?

A: Yes, you can make a version of Rajma without onion and garlic if you prefer. Simply skip these ingredients and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

6. Q: What are the best side dishes to serve with Punjabi Rajma?

A: Punjabi Rajma pairs well with steamed rice, naan, or chapati. You can also serve it with a side of ( for vegans cashew yogurt) yogurt or pickles for added flavor.

7. Q: How do I make Punjabi Rajma thicker if it’s too liquidy?

A: Mash some of the cooked beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the curry. Alternatively, you can let it simmer uncovered for a bit to reduce the liquid.

8. Q: Can I make Punjabi Rajma in advance?

A: Yes, Punjabi Rajma tastes even better the next day as the flavors intensify. You can make it in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

9. Q: Is Punjabi Rajma gluten-free and vegan?

A: Yes, the traditional Punjabi Rajma recipe is gluten-free and vegan. Ensure that the spices and other ingredients used are free from gluten and animal products. To ensure the recipe is 100% vegan, I don’t use premade Rajma masala.

10. Q: Can I eliminate fried onions?

A: Yes, you don’t have to use fried onions. If you prefer to use fresh add 1.5 cups of thinly sliced fresh onions for this recipe.

Additional Information:

– Type: Main Course

– Style: North Indian

– Dietary Considerations: Gluten-free, Nut-free, Vegan


Author: Yogchakra

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