Kidney Beans and Rice (Rajma Chawal)


This was one of Vikram Vij's favourite meals when he was growing up: a true Indian comfort food staple.



1/2 cup cooking oil
2 cups chopped onion, (1 large)
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic, (6 medium cloves)
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, (3 medium)
1 1/2 tbsp mild Mexican chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper , optional
1 tsp ground cayenne, optional
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred, optional
5 to 6 cups water, (6 for a soupier curry)
three 14-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5 to 6 cups cooked white or brown basmati rice


  1. Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add onion and saute for 8 minutes, or until slightly dark brown. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, then stir in ginger and tomatoes. Add chili powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper and cayenne and saute this masala for 5 to 8 minutes, or until oil glistens on top.
  2. Place yogurt in a small bowl. To prevent curdling, spoon about 3 tbsp of the hot masala into the yogurt. Stir well, then pour yogurt into the pot of masala. Saute for 2 minutes, or until oil glistens again.
  3. Add water, stir and bring to a boil on high heat. Add kidney beans, stir and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Serve the rice and beans buffet-style in separate bowls.

Yield: Serves 6


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