How to Cook Kidney Beans: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Cook Kidney Beans: 12 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Cook Kidney Beans: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

Red beans (kidney beans), also known as rajma, are part of basic Indian cuisine and similar Western dishes. This vegetable is very healthy and can be cooked in soups, chili and curry dishes, as well as salads and rice-based dishes, being an alternative to meat in terms of protein and vitamin content. If you want to learn how to cook red beans correctly, you can learn the steps and what to do with the vegetable when you're done.


Part 1 of 2: Cooking Dried Red Beans

Cook Kidney Beans Step 1

Step 1. Soak the dried beans in cold water for eight to 12 hours

This type of beans needs to be soaked before being cooked. For best results, place them in a pan filled with water and soak overnight at room temperature.

  • A good idea is to separate and wash the beans before soaking them to remove any dirt, sediment or small stones that might be in the mix. You can wash the beans in a colander.
  • Before soaking and washing, beans contain phytohemaflutinin, also known as bean lectin, which causes gastric discomfort. To avoid this, it is necessary to cook it for at least 30 minutes in boiling water.
  • If you don't have time to soak it overnight, another option is to use the quick method. Boil the dried beans, turn off the heat and let them soak for two to three hours. Pour in water and cook them normally.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 2

Step 2. Choose the correct cooking method

The most common method is to boil the beans in a pot of water for a few hours. However, there are several ways to cook them, depending on available resources.

  • Another traditional and quick way is to cook the beans in a pressure cooker. Soak them normally, cover the pan, then follow your pan's specific instructions.
  • Canned red beans do not need to be cooked. Add them directly to any recipe without cooking them.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 3

Step 3. Let the beans simmer for one to two hours

After soaking, wash the beans in fresh water and cover them with up to 5 or 7 cm of water. Cover the pan, bring the water to a boil and immediately lower the temperature, removing the lid as soon as the water starts to bubble. Cover and bring to a boil, leaving the pan almost intact to cook the beans evenly.

  • Cook with the lid in the pan ajar if you want a creamier result or close completely if you want a firmer consistency.
  • Take a look at the beans after 45 minutes, picking them up in your hands and squeezing them between your fingers, or try chewing one. After a while, they should be smooth and creamy. When they reach the desired consistency, remove them from the heat.
  • Turn the beans periodically to allow the beans to cook well. Also check that the water is always above the level of the beans.
  • When cooking beans at the boiling point, they can break quickly and become softer and more crumbly than if they are cooked slowly and gently. If desired, continue cooking them for as long as you like to get the texture of your choice. Softer beans are good for sauces, curry dishes, and many other dishes.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 4

Step 4. Remove the foam from the pan from time to time

As you cook the beans, you will notice a reddish gray foam forming on the top of the pan. This is a result of cooking the lectin, and the best procedure is to remove the foam with a spoon and discard it by washing in the sink.

Cook Kidney Beans Step 5

Step 5. Add salt and seasoning when the beans are almost tender

It is important to cook them without salt, otherwise they will take much longer to cook and may not cook completely. There are some bean varieties that take longer to cook than others, but some (such as chickpeas) will never be fully cooked if they are already in salt water.

  • At any time during cooking, you can add chopped aromatic vegetables. If your recipe calls for onions, garlic, carrots and other vegetables, add them to make them softer at any time. If you want them to be firmer, add them later. For softer vegetables, add them earlier.
  • It is common to place parts of the pork or some type of bone in a pan of beans to add flavor, especially in dishes such as baião de two, as described in the next section.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 6

Step 6. Drain water from cooked beans if necessary

The cooking time of beans varies a lot. It is common to have to add a little more water to allow for more regular cooking. Therefore, it is possible that a little water will remain when the beans are ready.

  • The general rule of thumb is to add three cups of water for every cup of dry beans you add to the pot. This theoretically results in a pot of cooked beans with no water left.
  • It is also common to store the liquid in the pan to make a very nice thick sauce. Depending on what you do with the beans, you won't always have to drain the water.

Part 2 of 2: Preparing Red Bean Dishes

Cook Kidney Beans Step 7

Step 1. Make a baião of two.

This is a well-seasoned, healthy and inexpensive classic dish. It's perfect for adding any extra ingredients, making it an easy-to-adapt recipe for all tastes. For a basic version:

  • Saute a chopped red onion, two garlic cloves, two celery stalks and a chopped red pepper in a pan with olive oil. Mix with 500 g of red beans. Another option is to add these vegetables when the beans are cooking, as described above.
  • For this mixture, add two and a half cups of water, a cup of white rice and pork parts, if desired. Boil the mixture, reduce the temperature to low heat and simmer for another 20 minutes with a lid on until the rice is done. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and hot sauce to taste. Garnish with some chopped cilantro.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 8

Step 2. Make a bean salad

Red beans are great for a simple cold salad, which is a good accompaniment to a barbecue or picnic. After cooking the beans in advance, try making the following recipe:

  • Mix a cup of red beans with a cup of chickpeas, a cup of black beans, a cup of red peppers and half a cup of chopped chives.
  • Drizzle the beans with three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight, mix well and serve.
  • Any commercial oil-based salad dressing would be a good substitute for vinegar and olive oil, if desired. A good choice is the Italian salad dressing.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 9

Step 3. Make curry rajma

While cooking a pot of red beans, add onion, garlic, and other aromatic vegetables to begin the foundation of this delicious and simple Indian recipe. Rajma is a staple dish, commonly served with roti and other types of bread. After cooking the beans, in a separate pan:

  • Saute a chopped white onion, three cloves of garlic and a 2cm piece of grated ginger in a little ghee. To this, add three small chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of cumin seed and a tablespoon of grated coriander, half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a teaspoon of powdered red pepper.
  • Add beans directly into the tomato base. Add two or three more cups of water or use the liquid from the beans to thicken the mixture. Cook over low heat, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of garam masala. Serve with rice, roti or naan and garnish with a little chopped cilantro and lemon.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 10

Step 4. Prepare chili.

To make a basic chili:

  • Brown 500 g of lean ground beef in a pan, adding a chopped white onion, three cloves of chopped something and three or four tablespoons of ground red pepper. Top with three or four cups of water and add two cups of cooked red beans. Simmer over a low heat, covered with a lid, for an hour or two. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
  • You can add other ingredients like chickpeas, black beans, corn and noodles. Chili can be served with tortillas, corn bread and baked potatoes.
Cook Kidney Beans Step 11

Step 5. Make a bean soup

You can make a basic vegetable soup come alive by adding red beans. If you want to prepare a dinner with everything you have in the pantry, this soup is a great option. To make the basic version, try this:

In a pan, saute a chopped onion and some garlic in olive oil. Add one or two chopped carrots and a cup of chopped potatoes. Add two or three cups of chicken or vegetable stock, or water, and bring to a boil. Add any other vegetables you have: canned, frozen or fresh green beans, corn and a cup of red beans. Season with chopped basil, salt and black pepper to taste

Cook Kidney Beans Step 12

Step 6. Eat the beans as a side dish

When prepared with salt and a little cayenne pepper, this dish makes a great accompaniment. Red beans are rich in vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and protein.

Need a quick dish? Cook a pan of beans and cornbread. Easy and tasty


Red beans are delicious in nachos


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