Instant Pot Rajmah: Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans

December 10, 2020

Instant Pot Rajmah: Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans - Indian As Apple Pie

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: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 17 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes + manual release 
TOTAL: 1 hour 2 minutes + manual release time
Makes: 6 cups

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

1. Soak rajmah in boiled, hot water for at least 1 hour or in room temperature water for 6 hours to overnight. Drain and discard the water. Set aside.

2. Place the inner pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to MORE. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the hing and cumin. Stir and cook for 40 seconds until the seeds are reddish brown. Because the oil pools to the sides, push the spices into the oil along the border so they cook fully.

3. Add the turmeric. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

4. Add the cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

5. Carefully add the onion. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

6. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

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

8. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads HIGH. Adjust the cook time to 35 minutes. 

9. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure, press CANCEL, and remove the lid. 

10. Remove and discard the cinnamon and cardamom or leave in for extra flavor and eat around them. You can mash some of the beans with the back of a spatula. I leave the cloves in, but you can also remove them. All of the other spices are edible. Garnish with the cilantro and serve over basmati rice with a side of raita (spiced yogurt) and slices of raw onion. 





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