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Asha's Southwest Rajma Chili

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Serves: 6

Asha's Southwest Rajma Chili
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Many South Asian households, both in India and stateside, have some version of "Mexican rajma," or red bean chili. Our take is inspired by Punjabi-style rajma and the flavors of the American Southwest. This vegetarian chili combines the best of both worlds with tons of supercharged flavor, thanks to our house Taco Masala coupled with lots of aromatics, Pragati Turmeric, and a pinch of hing. The base takes a little bit of time to cook — layering flavor takes time!— but the bean cooking time is drastically cut down by an overnight soak with some baking soda (a trick we learned from award-winning author Nik Sharma).

We love ours served piping hot, either served as chili on its own or ladled over Mexican red or jeera rice. And, of course, you need all the toppings! Yogurt or raita to cool the red chilli heat of the taco masala, thinly sliced red onions, roughly chopped cilantro, and lime wedges for squeezing are a must. But, feel free to go wild with other toppings like grated cheddar cheese, pickled peppers, and diced avocado, just to name a few.

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  • 1 pound dried rajma (or red kidney beans)
  • 7 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons Surya Salt, divided
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • 1 tablespoon whole Nandini Coriander, lightly crushed
  • 1¼ teaspoons whole Jodhana Cumin
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, finely diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 medium-to-large tomatoes, quartered (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Taco Masala
  • 1¼ teaspoons Pragati Turmeric
  • 1 Himalayan Tejpatta leaf (bayleaf)
For garnish
  • Plain, full-fat yogurt or raita
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Roughly chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Diced avocado (optional)
  • Grated cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Pick through the rajma, discarding any stones, place in a strainer, and rinse the dried beans. Transfer the rinsed rajma, water, and baking soda in a large bowl and let soak for at least 6 hours, up to overnight.
  2. Transfer the soaked rajma and the water to a large pot, stir in 2 teaspoons salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, keeping at an active simmer, and cook until the beans are cooked through and tender, 24 to 34 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit covered until ready to use.
  3. Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pulse until coarsely puréed. Alternatively, finely dice the tomatoes. Set aside.
  4. In another large pot or Dutch oven, heat the ghee over medium heat. When shimmering, add the crushed coriander, whole cumin, and hing, if using, and cook, stirring frequently until the spices turn a shade darker and smell toasty, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the onions, poblano, jalapeno, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the onions just start to turn light golden around the edges, 9 to 13 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and continue to cook until fragrant and the ginger has softened, another 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns a shade darker and the ghee starts to separate from the vegetables, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the taco masala and turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to thicken and lose their rawness, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked rajma and the cooking liquid, stir to combine, cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer to let the flavors meld, 20 to 25 minutes. If the chili is a little thick, you can thin with a couple splashes of water until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary.
  6. To serve, ladle the chili into individual bowls or serve over Mexican or jeera rice. Garnish with yogurt or raita, red onion, cilantro, and other desired toppings.

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