Red kidney beans

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Red Kidney Beans
Tinned Red Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Beans are the classic chilli bean; in India, they are called Rajma. They have a rich red colour, are flat and shaped like a kidney. Red kidney beans have a full nutty flavour, plus are good at taking on the flavours that surround them. Red kidney beans have a soft, creamy texture.

Prep times are quite long for dried red kidney beans, so it's good to have a can of tinned ones to hand to quickly add to a casserole that needs some extra body. If you use tinned red kidney beans, drain and rinse them because the are tinned in either salted or sweetened water that can mess up the flavours of your cooking.

To prepare red kidney beans from scratch:

Allow about 55 g per person of dried red kidney beans. Soak overnight in water. Drain the pre-soaked red kidney beans, chuck away the water and rinse. Place in saucepan. Cover with about 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, simmer and cook for 1 hour until the red kidney beans are tender. Skim off the scum that develops on the top of the water when the pulses begin to cook. Do not add salt, because it toughens their skins.

It is vital that red kidney beans are soaked and boiled for at least 10 minutes, because they contain toxins that can poison.

Food and Flavour Pairing

Red kidney beans taste great flavored with:


Red kidney beans last for a good length of time, but do toughen with age, so buy in smallish quantities. If you buy in bulk, check for dirt and insects as these are not uncommon and should be anticipated. Store somewhere dark and cool, and free from potential insect contamination. Tins are a godsend to any cook as they are quick to prepare and long lasting.

Further reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.