**Original blog posted March 2020. Updated March 2022** Kali dal is a very popular Punjabi dish and one of those comfort food meals that my husband has grown up with. It has also become one of Sanaya’s favorite comfort foods too so of course I had to find a way to perfect this recipe for both of them. I would say this recipe rotates in our house at least every 2 weeks.
I love it for its nutritional content, loaded with protein, fiber and low in carbs and calories. With all the rainy days we’ve had recently, this is one recipe I can’t pass up. An easy, one-pot meal, this goes great with naan or rice.
Yep, I put a ton of jalapeños as a garnish. Traditionally, it’s cilantro. But, it actually tasted good with the extra jalapeños on top!
A while back, we had a potluck and playdate with my friend Janani and her family. I don’t remember what I made, but I do remember that both my husband and I fought for the last bite of her dal. It was A-MA-ZING! It had a burst of flavor to it that we were both impressed and he actually said it was one of the best dals he has had in his life…. that’s huge coming from a Punjabi!
Most recipes of this specific dal have a basic of three spices, and I’ve found pretty simple in flavor. Works great for many but Janani’s recipe just had this burst of flavor, you didn’t want to stop eating it.
I begged her for her recipe, tried making it and failed. I tried a few more times to the point my hubby was actually sick of seeing dal…….oops. So I went to Janani’s house, had her tell me exactly what to do while I made it with her watching over me. I’ve been using her recipe ever since, however, I did make a few changes to it. I know, I know, why? I changed a little of the technique on which ingredients she cooks in what order, and changed the ratio on some of the basic spices but they are all there. The changed version is what I have listed below but if you’re interested in her original version, message me and I will send it to you.
When I talked to Janani about her recipe, that’s when I figured out it’s the spices and the amount of tomatoes that she uses which give the dal its integrity in flavor. You really need to try out this recipe. It’s so delicious!
If you don’t have an instant pot, follow the same instructions for a slow cooker and set slow cooker time for 8 hours.
I feel like almost every culture has their version of beans and rice. There’s the Latin style with adobo seasoning, the African style flavored with smoked paprika and garlic, Creoles use the “holy trinity” for theirs, Jamaican red beans and rice have coconut milk and scotch bonnet peppers, the Japanese use Adzuki beans with their rice, and the Indians have Rajma Chawal. Why are red beans and rice so common everywhere?
I don’t know. But what I do know is they make a complete protein when eaten together so it’s really beneficial to vegetarians and vegans who don’t get their complete proteins from animal protein to feel full.
I never thought Rajma was all that special until my friend Sumit made it one day. He makes the most amazing Rajma so I never bothered to learn because I could just call him up! But now he’s moved to a different state and it’s not as readily available so I have tried and tried and tried to perfect my Rajma.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this classic dish of Rajma!
Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add oil. When it's heated, add in cumin seeds, hing, and cinnamon stick. Let them roast and sizzle for 30-60 seconds.
Add in the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
When the onions are golden brown, add in tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala and salt. Mix well and cook for another 3 minutes.
Drain the soaked rajma and add to the pot. Mix well to coat all of the beans in the gravy.
Add in the water and mix.
Turn off the saute mode and cover the instant pot with the vent in sealing position.
Set to Bean/Chili mode which will automatically set the time to 30 minutes.
When the timer beeps, release the pressure from the instant pot and open lid. Stir in the lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot with rice or naan.
For Stovetop instructions:
Follow the same recipe above and cook in pressure cooker for 3 whistles.
For Slow Cooker instructions:
Kidney Beans have a natural toxin called phytohaemagglutinin which is hard to digest and may cause nausea/vomiting. If you don't presoak the beans, then I recommend not using the slow cooker method to cook rajma. If you do presoak the beans, then:
Boil the presoaked kidney beans for 20 minutes, then follow the same recipe above. Set heat to high and cook for 5-6 hours.
** If you don't have time to soak the beans overnight, increase instant pot cook time to 45 minutes ** the amount of water I used gives this rajma a thicker gravy. If you are looking to have a more soupy rajma, add an additional 1/2 c of water.