Instant Pot Rajmah: Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans

December 10, 2020

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Oh Rajmah, how can I even begin to do you justice? And, how can I even begin to tell all of you how critical this dish is to a Punjabi home? Every Punjabi I know has a story about Rajmah (Kidney bean curry). One relative ate it in his school dorm every weekend doled out over rice with a side of curds. It wasn't as good as home, but it was rajmah. My dear friend from graduate school in Hawaii was so homesick for Delhi that he tried to replicate his mom's version adding ketchup instead of tomatoes that he did not have handy at the time. My girls when they were young were asked by their pediatrician what their favorite food was, and they screamed in unison 'Rajmah!' Our doctor promptly asked me to get her a recipe ASAP for whatever it was - it 'sounded good'.  

Oh, and did I mention that in my circle I'm known as the Rajmah Queen? My rajmah is beyond good. It's creamy. It's flavorful. It's spicy. It's perfect over rice with a side of crunchy, lemony onions. This incredibly high bar was why it was so difficult to translate my recipe on page 83 of my book The Indian Slow Cooker to the Instant Pot. I would try and my 15-year-old would cry. Yes, I checked. There were real tears. She detested the IP version. Somehow it was not flavorful or creamy enough. But, I think I cracked the code! I tested my new version for a 3Q, 6Q, and an 8Q and man was it a hit! This was the first perfected recipe for my first cookbook for the slow cooker and now I feel like I can truly launch testing for my next cookbook, The Indian Instant Pot. Give it a try and tell me what you think. 

Oh, and if you have a rajmah story, share it with us in the comment section. Oh, rajmah. I am obsessed with you! 


Pressure Cooker Size: 3Q or larger
Warm Up: 18 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes plus manual release time
TOTAL: 58 minutes plus manual release time
Makes: 8 cups

2 cups rajmah (dried red kidney beans), picked over and washed
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 whole cloves
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom pod (optional)
1 small yellow or red onion, diced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-3 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and minced
1 small tomato, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons amchur (dried mango powder)
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Soak rajmah in boiled, hot water for at least 1 hour. Drain and discard the water. Set aside.

Place the inner cooking pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to MORE. When the indicator flashes HOT, add oil. Once hot, add hing and cumin. Stir well and cook 1 minute until the seeds are reddish brown. Because the oil pools to the sides, push spices into the oil along the border of the inner pot so they can cook fully.

Add turmeric. Cook 30 seconds.

Add cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Cook 30 seconds.

Carefully add onion. The moisture can cause the oil to splatter. Stir well. Cook 1 minute.

Add ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles. Cook 1 minute, stirring well.

Press CANCEL. Add tomato, tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, amchur, red chile, and salt. Stir.

Add rajmah and water. Stir.

Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button until the panel indicates MORE and adjust the time to pressure cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.

Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure.

Mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon, add cilantro, and serve over basmati rice.




Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla


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