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Rajma (Hearty Kidney Bean Stew)



This awesome Rajma (Hearty Kidney Bean Stew) was created by writer-director-producer Sri Rao, and he was kind enough to share it with us on the Jazzy Vegetarian television show. Smoky cumin, earthy coriander, warm ginger and spicy garlic combine to make rajma, a true showstopper. This is North Indian comfort food—and all you’ll need is one bowl of warm stew to understand why.

Makes 4 servings

By Sri Rao



1 tablespoon extra-light olive oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 cans (15.5-ounces each) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup hot water
1 1/4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Vegan yogurt to finish (optional)



In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, reducing the heat to medium (or medium-low), if necessary, to prevent the onions from burning. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the cumin, Indian red chili powder (or cayenne pepper), salt and turmeric. Stir the spices into the onions, allowing them to bloom, for about 30 seconds.


Stir in the tomatoes. Cover and cook until the tomatoes have broken down, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the beans and stir. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice (or tamarind paste) into the hot stew along with the tamari (or soy sauce). Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Add the cilantro and coriander. Use the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to crush about half of the beans to create a rich gravy. Continue cooking, increasing heat as necessary, until the sauce is thick and transforms from red to deep brown, another 5 to 10 minutes or so.


Adjust the salt and seasonings, to taste. Garnish with optional fresh cilantro and serve in a bowl topped with vegan yogurt, if desired.


Reprinted with permission from Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired With Unforgettable Bollywood Films by Sri Rao (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Sri Rao is a writer-director-producer living in New York City. Learn more about Sri at: