Super Hearty Indian Vegetarian Chili (Rajma)

It’s raining cats & dogs outside. It’s raining so much, you’d think it’s raining cats, dogs, cattle, llamas, kangaroos & whales outside. Okay, that’s about all the animals I could think of on the fly. You know to make my point that, it’s raining A WHOLE LOT.

Us Californians forget how to drive on rainy days… it’s like we all forget how to function this time of year, ya know. Getting out of the house, (or out of the bed for that matter), when it’s all cloudy & gloomy outside is a challenge. Which is why, any cooking that involves the least amount of effort, and delivers the greatest warmth & instant comfort, is what we need, people.

Enter Indian Masala Chili, aka, Rajma. It’s basically an Indian vegetarian chili, that’s savory, hearty & super filling. With delicious Indian spices, like cumin, coriander, black pepper, star anise, cloves in a tomato gravy, this Chili packs awesome flavor & warmth. You can eat it with Indian bread (Roti or Naan) or with Rice. Days like these, I like to cosy up to a bowl of Quinoa & Rajma and a good magazine. (Fuzzy socks optional.) Winter comfort mojo, guaranteed.

Some folks prefer soaking red kidney beans overnight & pressure cooking them – I have aunts that swear this tastes best. It makes sense, because when you pressure cook the beans, it gets soft & releases water, which makes a natural broth for the gravy. Truth be told though, on getting home after a long day of work, when I need to prep something fast for my family,  I prefer using canned kidney beans. The texture might not be as super soft, but it tastes just as great. More importantly, I can have dinner ready in 30 mins and avoid saying “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry”. #stopthehanger

All the spices are available at Indian grocery stores, for less than $2 USD. You can also purchase them online, I’ve shared links below on the spice brands I use.

Give it whirl, and tell me what you think! If you make this recipe, I’d love to see your pictures!! Tag us on instagram with #findmymojyo.

Super Hearty Indian Vegetarian Chili (Rajma)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings & feeling all warm and cosy on the inside


  • Two 13 oz. cans of dark kidney beans (OR 1.5 cup fresh dark kidney beans, soaked overnight & then cooked in pressure cooker)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 inch of ginger or 2 tbsp freshly chopped ginger
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes (more tomatoes if you prefer more gravy)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala* (Here's what I use)
  • 1 tsp black salt (optional, I like using this as it gives a tangy, salty flavor kick). Here's what I use)
  • 1/2 tsp amchur powder, aka dried mango powder. (Here's what I use)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne
  • 1/2 bay leaf (Here's what I use)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 inch of cinnamon stick (I use just over an inch of cinnamon bark, a sliver really, otherwise the flavor is overwhelming)
  • 2 tbsp Cooking oil or butter
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper per taste
  • 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh Cilantro for garnish


  1. Chop the onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes. If using canned kidney beans, drain them and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
  2. In a saucepan, on medium heat, add the cooking oil and brown the cumin seeds for 1-2 mins. The cumin seeds will turn to a golden brown when ready, take care not to overcook them, they get burnt super fast! Add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick & bay leaf and saute for 3 mins, till the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, saute till the tomatoes let out juice & soften.
  4. Add all the spices - coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, amchur powder, tumeric powder, chilli powder/cayenne, black salt, pepper. Mix & saute mixture for 3 minutes. Add water to thicken the gravy (no more than 1/4 cup of water).
  5. Add the kidney beans to the gravy and mix. Reduce the heat & cover with a lid.
  6. Stir the mixture occasionally, let it simmer for 15 minutes or as needed.
  7. Do a taste test, adjust spices per your taste. Remove from heat, squeeze 1/2 lime on it. Garnish with cilantro & serve with quinoa, rice or bread.


Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-free.

*If you're not able to find garam masala, here's how you can make it. Note that this garam masala (seasoning mix) is particular to this recipe: Blend the following to fine powder: 3 cardamom pods, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 1 star anise, 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder, 2 cloves.

**A fantastic pre-made Masala mix I can recommend is MDH Rajma Masala, you don't have to add amchur powder, cinnamon stick or garam masala if using this. Use 1.5 tsps for starters, adjust per taste.

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Also published on Medium.

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