Warming Indian style vegetarian chili (rajma)

January 20, 2016

Indian style vegetarian chili rajma

One of my healthy eating food goals for this year is to eat more vegetarian meals each week.  We are usually fairly healthy only eating fresh food cooked from scratch but realised that we could cut down on eating meat.  One of my favourite go to dishes is this Indian style vegetarian chili called Rajma (it’s vegan too) made with red kidney beans. Bags of flavour and warmth, this dish is traditionally served with just rice – it really needs nothing else.  But if you feel like it you can make a side dish of some spiced veggies.  I’ve grown up on this dish and it was always a favourite.  I’ve even got my fussy eater to eat it so it not only makes a an easy and delicious mid-week family meal but also a very healthy one as kidney beans are so good for you as are many of the spices (like turmeric and cumin) in this dish.  

Serves: 4

260 gms kidney beans
1 onion finely chopped
1½ tsp ginger paste
1½ tsp garlic paste
3 tomatoes finely chopped (I like to skin them but not essential)
1 tbs tomato puree
2 tbs oil
Small handful fresh coriander (to garnish)

½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp coriander powder
¾ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ tsp chili powder (optional)

Indian style vegetarian chili recipe

Wash and soak the kidney beans overnight in water.  Start by putting the kidney beans with their soaking water in a large pot – add more water making sure the kidney beans are very well covered.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle boil and let the kidney beans cook till they are soft – about 2 hours.  (Don’t discard the cooking liquid).  You can do this part a few hours in advance.

Heat the oil over a medium to high heat.  Once oil is hot add the cumin seeds and stir for about 30 seconds – till they are fragrant.  Add the chopped onions and keep stirring and cooking till they turn golden brown.  Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir for a minute or so.  Now add your powdered spices, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.  Continue stirring and cook for around 10 minutes until the masala (spices and tomatoes) thickens and oil leaves the side of the masala.

Add in your kidney beans and their liquid (measure the liquid before adding and top up with water to around 850-900 mls if it’s less) and give it all a good stir making sure to scrape any bits of masala stuck to the base or sides of the pan.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes.  For a thick sauce continue cooking till you have the consistency you like or you can even thin it down by adding more water.

Indian style vegetarian chili

You can make this a day in advance and keep in the fridge – it will only taste better the next day.  Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with basmati rice – white or brown.

Indian style vegetarian chili

While this Indian style vegetarian chili is best enjoyed with rice, I often have the leftovers as a thick soup for lunch the next day.  Delicious, warming and healthy.

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  • thefolia

    I wish I had a bowl of it in front of me right now! Super photo’s. Happy feasting!

  • Surabhi | Third Eye Chic

    Our favorite too and my 3-year-old asks me what’s for dinner and then complains “mama, rajma nahi banaya” lol I got a Zojirushi rice cooker as a gift, and I cook rajma and lentils in it too and the grains puff so nicely and are so flavorful. The pictures are great and the dish looks so edible : )

    • ebabee likes

      How sweet – I was like that as a kid too – always loved rajma. That sounds interesting – a rice cooker to cook rajma and dal. Will look in to that. I should use my pressure cooker but it scares the life out of me! But a rice cooker sounds like a great option. x

      • Surabhi | Third Eye Chic

        I forgot to mention that I just cook the grains/beans in the cooker and not the masala etc. I cook masala separately and add the beans, and let them simmer on the stove for a bit to soak the flavors. Pressure cooking is ideal but not a must : ) This way, I don’t have to “man” the beans and can just leave them in the cooker when running errands etc or pre make a couple days ahead and then just add spices later. And definitely a great option if sans pressure cooker. Works excellent with whole moong and urad lentils too.

        • ebabee likes

          Great to know. So much better than waiting 2 hours or so for the rajma beans to cook. The way I cook is also the same – beans first and then masala. So the rice cooker sounds great. I must get one – you have convinced me especially for other dals too.

  • Babes about Town

    Yum, this looks so delicious! I love making and eating chilli and have never thought there was an Indian version — although actually the spices used are so similar, this just has a lot more in terms of the garam masala etc. I’ve also been wanting a good vegetarian chilli recipe as I’ve had it before and it was so good, but I tend to stick to meat. Nice to have a healthy option 🙂

    • ebabee likes

      This is actually a classic North Indian dish but can be thought of as a veggie chilli. It is yummy. And just perfect with some rice. You won’t miss the meat, I promise! ?

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