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Recipes for Food Justice: Spice Waala’s Rajma with Cumin Rice (Kidney Bean Stew)

Aakanksha and UttamMeet Aakanksha and Uttam! They own Spice Waala, serving up authentic Indian street food right here in Seattle since 2018. Hailing from New Delhi and Kolkata, the couple decided to start Spice Waala after finding the Indian food in the area lacking. Not only are the couple passionate about sharing their favorite foods they grew up with, they’re also passionate about taking care of the community. Every week, Spice Waala partners with ACRS to provide 100 AAPI elderly folk with groceries and Seattle nonprofits, Community Lunch and Mary’s Place, to provide 100 hot vegan meals every Tuesday at 11am. Since 2020, they’ve served around 30,000 meals!

For our Recipes for Food Justice Series, they’ve shared with us their recipe for kidney bean stew, or rajma, and cumin rice.

Spice Waala’s Rajma with Cumin Rice (Kidney Bean Stew)


• 4- 15 oz cans red beans
• 1-8 oz can tomato sauce
• 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
• 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
• 4 TBS vegetable oil
• 2 green Thai chilies, finely chopped (optional)
• 3 c. water
• 2 strands cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 TBS coriander powder
• 1 TBS cumin powder
• 1 TBS garam masala powder
• 1 tsp red chili powder
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• Salt to taste


• 1 c. white basmati rice
• 2 c. water
• 1/2 TBS ghee or vegetable oil
• 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
• Salt to taste

Spice Waala Rajma And Cumin Rice - spices, cooking, final dish
For the rajma, heat oil over medium heat in a large pot and add onions, green chilies, garlic, ginger and cinnamon stick. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add in tomatoes and sauté for about 3 minutes so that they are cooked.

Add the spices and a cup of water; mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. You will be able to smell the aroma of the spices cooking.

Add the canned tomato sauce and 2 cups of water and stir all ingredients together. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure you stir the pot occasionally.

Drain the water from the canned red beans. Add the beans to the sauce and stir well. Add salt to taste. Close the lid and lower temperature to low-medium heat.

Let the sauce with the beans simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.  Stir occasionally.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve hot with cumin rice (or rice of choice).

For rice, put basmati rice in a strainer and rinse well under cold water to remove impurities and dust.

Heat ghee or oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Make sure ghee does not boil! Add cumin seeds and stir until brown, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn them.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan with a lid, then add rice, toasted cumin seeds (with their ghee), and salt. Stir.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the saucepan.

Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes, resisting the temptation to lift the lid.

Remove the saucepan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.