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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili (or Rajma Masala)

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This Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili (or Rajma Masala) is thick and creamy: simmered in a rich tomato sauce with onions, garlic and ginger. It’s easy to make, healthy, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free, but so satisfying that it will please everyone at your dinner table!

Top down shot of indian spiced vegetarian chili (or rajma masala) in a white bowl

What is Rajma Masala?

Rajma masala was one of my favorite dishes growing up. Made with red kidney beans, tomatoes and a blend of warm spices like ginger, garlic, cumin and garam masala – it’s comforting, delicious and the perfect one-pot meal.

If you’re new to Indian Food, think of Rajma as an Indian spiced vegetarian chili, usually served with rice or naan. Typically Rajma is made with raw kidney beans which are soaked and then cooked — but to save time I used canned kidney beans in this recipe. There are so many spice combinations you can use to make Rajma — that recipes can really vary. Some combination of dry mango, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, cardamom, pepper, etc. is typical. I used garam masala – which has many of these spices already combined to make this recipe even easier!

indian spiced vegetarian chili (or rajma masala) in a white bowl garnished with fresh cilantro

Traditionally Rajma has butter, cream, etc. added to it – but you don’t need those ingredients to keep this recipe tasting great! My Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili recipe is much healthier than the traditional version, without sacrificing any of the flavor.

Ingredients for indian spiced vegetarian chili on a marble work surface

How to make Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili – step by step

Step 1: In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the oil, onions and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Red onion and bell pepper in a pot

Step 2: Add the garlic, tomatoes, ginger, cumin seeds, Garam Masala, lemon pepper, and dried red pepper flakes

Spices and tomatoes added to the pot

Step 3: Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Chopped ingredients (tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, spices) in a pan being stirred
cooked ingredients (tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, spices) in a pan being stirred

Step 4: Add the beans and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes more.

Kidney beans being poured into the pot

Step 5: To achieve a thicker curry, you can mash some of the kidney beans with a potato masher and simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, and let it heat through for 1-2 more minutes.

Fresh cilantro being added to indian spiced vegetarian chili

Step 6: Serve warm with a sprouted wheat tortilla or naan on the side. Or serve with brown rice or quinoa.

Top down shot of indian spiced vegetarian chili served in a white bowl

What makes this Indian spiced vegetarian chili (Rajma masala) healthy?

Thanks to the kidney beans, this dish is a nutritional powerhouse: each serving has 9g fiber, 9g protein but only 200 calories! That means you can go back for seconds and even thirds with no guilt! Kidney beans are also:

  • Rich in vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamin K1
  • High in fiber and protein
  • Low glycemic (keeps your blood sugar steady)
  • Heart healthy

Can you freeze this recipe?

Absolutely! It will keep in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To reheat, just defrost it in the microwave on low and serve!

Is this Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili Kid-Friendly?

Absolutely! This easy one pot meal is great for the whole family. It is full of flavor but not overly hot. Depending on how sensitive your kids are to “hot” spices like red chili flakes, you could leave out the red chili flakes + lemon pepper before giving it to your kids, and add it in just for the adult portions.

What can you serve with this Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili?

Rajma masala is typically served with naan or white rice — but since those are basically refined carbs, I recommend serving it with some combination of:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pita bread
  • Sprouted wheat tortillas
  • Whole wheat naan

Top tips for making Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili

  • If you use dried kidney beans, soak them for at least 5-6 hours (ideally overnight) before cooking.
  • Cook the beans until they are well done. They should be slightly mushy in texture but still retain their shape (this will help for mashing the beans if you choose to – see the next point below 🙂 ).
  • For a thicker curry, mash the beans before adding in the lemon juice/cilantro and let it simmer for an extra 5-10 minutes uncovered on low.
  • Like most curries, this recipe actually tastes even better the next day! So if you’re making it for a large group – I’d recommend making it the night before and refrigerating it before heating and serving the next day.
  • You can make a batch of this and freeze it – let the chili come back to room temperature after cooking and place in a freezer safe container. Defrost fully before reheating in the stove.
  • This dish is a great way to use up any extra veggies you have in the fridge – just dice them up small and throw them in the pot. Spinach stirred in at the end of cooking would also be tasty!

Check out these other vegetarian curry recipes!

If you have tried this Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

Top down shot of spiced vegetarian chili in a white bowl
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili (or Rajma Masala)

This Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili is healthy, easy and perfect for a tasty weeknight meal. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 197kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 2 green bell peppers diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tomatoes diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 3 cups drained kidney beans (2, 15oz cans)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the oil, onions and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes, gingerroot, cumin seeds, Garam Masala, lemon pepper, and dried red pepper flakes
  • Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the beans and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes more.
  • To achieve a thicker curry, you can mash some of the kidney beans with a potato masher and simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, and let it heat through for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Serve warm with a sprouted wheat tortilla or naan on the side. Or serve with brown rice or quinoa.

Notes

Top tips for making Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili
  • If you use dried kidney beans, soak them for at least 5-6 hours (ideally overnight) before cooking.
  • Cook the beans until they are well done. They should be slightly mushy in texture but still retain their shape (this will help for mashing the beans if you choose to – see the next point below 🙂 ).
  • For a thicker curry, mash the beans before adding in the lemon juice/cilantro and let it simmer for an extra 5-10 minutes uncovered on low.
  • Like most curries, this recipe actually tastes even better the next day! So if you’re making it for a large group – I’d recommend making it the night before and refrigerating it before heating and serving the next day.
  • You can make a batch of this and freeze it – let the chili come back to room temperature after cooking and place in a freezer safe container. Defrost fully before reheating in the stove.
  • This dish is a great way to use up any extra veggies you have in the fridge – just dice them up small and throw them in the pot. Spinach stirred in at the end of cooking would also be tasty!

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 4g | Sodium: 304mg | Potassium: 779mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1190IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3.6mg

Posted In…

Entrees ·

From healthy versions of favorites to cozy curries, these main courses are sure to bring some new recipes to your family’s table.

30 responses to “Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili (or Rajma Masala)”

  1. This looks really great but can any kind of beans be used to make this recipe and will the turn out be affected by the beans used?5 stars

    • Hi! Yes, you can use any kind of beans to make this recipe. But depending on the bean you will just get a different texture (e.g. Red Kidney Beans have a softer texture than, say, Navy Beans) — so the flavors will remain the same, but if you want a creamier texture I’d recommend Red Kidney Beans over the rest! Hope that helps!

  2. I haven’t had a lot of Indian food but I have always been a chili lover so I am adding this to the list of new recipes to try!5 stars

    • Hi Amy! If you’ve never tried Indian food before, this is a great intro recipe because it’s kind of like a chili (a dish you’re probably familiar with) but with an Indian twist! I hope you like it! 🙂

  3. Omg! This looks really yum! I have always loved Indian food my friends and I always come together once every month to cook and try new recipes, I should suggest this.5 stars

  4. Can I add a teaspoon of chili powder to sorta “Americanize” it? It’s got all the good ingredients of a good American style chili – except it is missing the chili powder. Would the chili powder ruin it?

    • Hi Jack! I think 1 tsp of chili powder would probably work fine in this recipe. It doesn’t hurt to try it! Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Rajma is one of my all-time favourite meals, and one of the biggest reminders of life back in India. I love that this recipe includes pepper, one of my five a day 😉

    • Hi Corinne! This recipe makes 4 servings, and each serving has: 175 calories, 4.3g fat, 28g carbs, 10g fiber, 1g sugar, and 8g protein. Hope that helps!

    • Thanks Amy! You’re right – the Garam Masala gives this recipe just that little extra something to make it super yummy 🙂

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