Indian food is known for its spices, rich colors, and wonderful flavors. Most dishes in Indian cuisine use many spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, and chili powder and are known to have a spicy, salty, and complex flavor.
Although many of these dishes use a lot of components and ingredients, most can be easily cooked at home. Some of our favorite Indian dishes to cook at home include palak paneer, a dish made of spinach and Indian cheese, and aloo gobi, a dry dish made with potatoes and cauliflower.
- Palak paneer is a mildly flavored dish that is super healthy and made from spinach and paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
- Kaali daal is a popular North Indian dish where black lentils are cooked with spices, tomatoes, and cream.
- Aloo gobi is a dry dish made with potatoes, cauliflower, and Indian spices.
- Masala chai is a spiced, sweetened black tea mixed with milk that is a popular beverage all around the world.
- Matar paneer is a vegan North Indian dish consisting of peas and paneer. It is often served with rice or Indian bread like naan and paratha.
Popular Indian Recipes
India has a lot of recipes to choose from for those who want to learn more about this incredible cuisine. Many Indian dishes only require basic cooking abilities such as boiling and frying but also involve a lot of ingredients.
Indian dishes often require many components that can be commonly found in the west such as chicken, lamb, potatoes, and peas. Many of them also use spices which are readily available in the supermarket such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin.
Some recipes involve more steps and ingredients than others. They will also range from appetizers to main courses to desserts.
1. Palak Paneer
Palak paneer is one of the most popular paneer dishes in India. It is a mildly flavored dish that is super healthy and is made of spinach and paneer, a type of Indian cottage cheese. This dish can be eaten with many Indian breads or with plain rice.
Ingredients: 500g spinach, 15-16 paneer cubes, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp finely chopped ginger, 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, 1 cup grated onion paste, ½ cup pureed tomato, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp coriander powder, and 1 tbsp cream
- First, blanch and puree the spinach.
- In a pan, fry the paneer cubes until golden brown. Then remove the paneer and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf.
- When the spices start to crackle, add the ginger, garlic, and onion paste.
- Then add salt, garam masala, coriander powder, and red chili powder.
- Add the tomato puree and cook over medium heat.
- Add the pureed spinach and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the paneer cubes and stir.
- Now your dish is complete and you can pour some cream over the top and serve hot.
2. Kaali Daal
Kaali daal, also known as ma ki daal or mom's lentils, is a popular North Indian dish where black lentils are cooked with spices, tomatoes, and cream. This dish acts as the perfect side for heavier dishes such as butter chicken.
Ingredients: 1 cup split black lentils, 3 cups water, 2 large chopped onions, 2 green chilies, a pinch of asafetida, salt, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp ginger, 2 large chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 tbsp butter, and 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Soak the black lentils overnight in the water. The next day, boil them with some onion, green chilies, asafetida, and salt.
- In a separate pan heat some oil and then add the onion, ginger, garlic, and red chili powder. Fry for 5 minutes.
- The boiled lentils, water, and whisked cream are then added to make a thick gravy.
- In another small pan, melt the butter and then add the cumin seeds. Toast seeds until fragrant.
- Then add in the lentil mixture and stir together.
3. Aloo Gobi
Aloo gobi is a dry dish made with potatoes, cauliflower, and Indian spices. It is yellowish in color due to the use of turmeric and occasionally contains black cumin and curry leaves. Other common ingredients include garlic, ginger, onion, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, peas, and cumin.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tbs coriander powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp peanut oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp of garam masala powder, 1 small head of cauliflower, 1 peeled potato, salt, and 2 tbsp minced cilantro leaves
- Mix the ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, turmeric, and water in a small bowl.
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and then add cumin seeds.
- Add garam masala and cook until the paste thickens.
- Then add the chopped cauliflower and potatoes and stir to coat the vegetables with the spices.
- Season with salt and add water.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
4. Masala Chai
Enjoyed by millions in India, masala chai a spiced, sweetened black tea mixed with milk and Indian spices. This is one of the favorite drinks in India during winter and the monsoon season as it is believed to keep the body warm.
Ingredients: 2 cups milk, 2 cups water, 4 whole cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 2 peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp ginger, 2 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp black tea leaves
- With a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder crush the cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Then transfer into a small saucepan.
- Then add water, ginger, and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the milk and sugar then let it cook for a few minutes. Finally, add the black tea leaves and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Once the chai is ready, strain it into a teapot or directly into teacups and serve.
5. Matar Paneer
Matar paneer is a vegetarian North Indian dish consisting of peas and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) served in a tomato-based sauce and spiced with garam masala. This dish is often eaten with rice or Indian bread like naan and paratha.
Ingredients: 2 cups cubed paneer, 2 cups green peas, 3-4 green chilies, 2 cups chopped onion, 1 tsp garlic cloves, 1 tsp ginger, ½ cup chopped tomato, ¼ cup oil, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 bay leaves, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp salt, ½ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp red chili powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, and 1 tbsp coriander leaves
- First, blend the onions, garlic, and ginger to a paste. In a pan, heat some oil and then sauté the paste with cumin seeds and bay leaves.
- Once onions are cooked, add the tomatoes, turmeric, salt, garam masala, red chili powder, and coriander powder.
- Then, add the peas, paneer, and green chilies and sauté over high heat.
- Lastly, add some water and bring to a boil. Serve hot and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
6. Beef Vindaloo
Vindaloo is a gravy dish that is popular in Goa. This dish is very spicy and includes tomatoes, onions, and loads of chilies. A variety of meats can be found in a vindaloo dish including lamb and chicken but beef vindaloo is one of the most popular versions.
Ingredients: 3 lbs of beef cubes, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp red chili powder, 1 tbsp oil, 1 cup of chopped onions, 1 cup of tomatoes, 1 cup of water, and fresh cilantro
- First, marinate the beef cubes overnight in the vinegar, garlic paste, ginger paste, yogurt, salt, black pepper, and red chili powder.
- In a pan, heat some oil then add the chopped onions and cook until soft and golden brown.
- Add the beef cubes and cook until the meat is no longer pink on the outside. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for few more minutes.
- Lastly, pour in some water and let it simmer until the beef is tender. Then sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
7. Bhapaa Aloo
Bhapaa is the Bengali word for steamed and aloo is the Hindi word for potato. Bhapaa aloo is a Bengali recipe that uses the humble potato as its main star and tosses it in five-spice powder, coconut paste, and mustard oil.
Ingredients: 200g cubed potatoes, 2 tsp oil, ½ tsp five-spice mixture, 2 red chilies, ½ tsp mustard paste, 1 tsp curd/yogurt, ¾ tsp coconut paste, a pinch of green chili paste, a pinch of turmeric powder, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp lime juice
- First, peel the potatoes then cut into pieces and boil in salted water.
- In a pan, heat some oil then add in the five-spice mixture and red chilies. Stir the spices until they splutter then remove from heat and pour the mixture over the potatoes.
- In a mixing bowl, prepare a marinade with the mustard paste, curd, coconut paste, green chili paste, and turmeric powder. Gently mix the potatoes into this marinade.
- Finally, add in the salt and lime juice.
8. Banjari Gosht
Banjari Gosht is a favorite of Rajasthan. This easy Indian mutton recipe can be served with rice or any Indian bread at a dinner party. This dish is also commonly eaten by Indians during holidays such as Eid or Diwali.
Ingredients: 1 tsp oil, 1 cup finely chopped onions, 5 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, 3 tbsp garam masala, 25g red chili powder, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 cup yogurt, 600g mutton, and 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- First, heat the oil and sauté the sliced onions until they turn golden brown.
- Next add the ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, and coriander powder. Cook until spices are fragrant.
- Add in the yogurt, mutton, and coriander seeds and allow them to cook until meat is tender.
- Garnish with some crushed coriander seeds and whole red chilies.
Dhokla is one of the specialty snacks of the state of Gujarat and is a steamed cake made from gram flour and chickpeas or lentils. This dish can be served for breakfast or as a light snack in the evening with a cup of chai.
Ingredients: 1 cup of gram flour, 1 tbsp citric acid, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp turmeric, water, 1 tbsp fruit salt, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 8-10 curry leaves, and 1 red chili
- In a bowl, mix the gram flour with citric acid, salt, sugar, and turmeric. Add in some water and make it into a smooth batter with a medium-thick consistency.
- In a glass, add the fruit salt and water and stir then add to the batter.
- Grease a steaming tin and pour the batter into it. Steam it until fully cooked.
- In a pan, heat oil then add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and red chili.
- Pour the hot oil mixture over the steamed dhokla then cut it into pieces and serve.
10. Salli Boti
Salli Boti is a delicious and well-loved Parsi dish. This recipe includes tasty mutton pieces that are cooked in tomatoes, onions, jaggery, and vinegar. The dish is fragrant and is best served hot with small pieces of crispy fried potatoes as a garnish.
Ingredients: 1 tsp oil, 4 chopped onions, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 kg mutton, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp cumin powder, 4 chopped tomatoes, ½ tsp sugar, 1½ tsp vinegar, ½ tsp garam masala, chopped cilantro, and ½ tsp salt
- First, heat some oil in a pan then add the onions and cook until they turn golden brown. Then add the ginger-garlic paste, mutton, red chili powder, turmeric powder and mix well and cook until mutton is tender.
- Add in the coriander powder, cumin powder, and tomatoes. Cook until cumin powder is fragrant.
- After a few minutes, add the sugar, vinegar, garam masala, and salt. Stir everything together and make sure that the mutton is coated in the sauce.
- Add some chopped cilantro and give it a final stir.
- Finally, garnish the dish with some more cilantro.
11. Dal Makhani
Dal Makhani is a creamy lentil soup loaded with butter and spices. This is an absolute favorite recipe of Indians everywhere and can be easily cooked at home. This dish can also be found in almost every Indian restaurant and can be served with cooked rice or Indian bread such as naan or paratha.
Ingredients: ¾ cup soaked black lentils, 1 cup of water, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp red chili powder, 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger, 1 tsp oil, 1 chopped onion, 8 cloves of garlic, 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp cumin seeds, ½ cup of fresh cream, water, 1 tsp garam masala, and a pinch of fenugreek leaf powder
- Soak the lentils overnight then cook with water, salt, red chili powder, and 1 tbsp ginger for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- In a separate pan, heat some oil then add the onion, remaining ginger, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and cumin seeds. Cook until onions are golden brown.
- Add the boiled lentils and water while stirring the mixture continuously.
- Add more water to reach your desired consistency then add the fresh cream and garam masala powder.
- Finish the dish with a couple of pinches of fenugreek leaf powder.
Khichdi, also known as Khicadi or Khichuri, is a comfort food that is eaten all over India. Made with rice and lentils, this dish is tasty and good for you. It can be served with clarified butter and Indian pickle to spice up your meal.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 finely chopped onions, 1 chopped tomato, 1 green chili, 1 piece of finely chopped ginger, a pinch of turmeric powder, a pinch of asafetida, ½ cup of drained rice, ½ cup of yellow lentils, water, and salt
- In a pressure cooker, heat some oil then add cumin and chopped onions.
- Once the onions become translucent, add in the chopped tomatoes, green chili, and ginger. Stir then add the turmeric powder and asafetida.
- When the tomatoes are soft and cooked through, add in the drained rice and lentils. Cover the mixture with water and add some salt.
- Close the lid tightly and cook on a high flame for 6 whistles. Serve hot.
Kheer is the essential Indian dessert that is made on festivals and special occasions in almost every Indian home. This dish is made with full-fat milk and rice and is flavored with cardamom, raisins, saffron, cashews, pistachios, almonds, or other dry fruits and nuts.
Ingredients: ¼ cup of rice, 5 cups of milk, ½ cup of sugar, 12-15 raisins, 4-5 cardamom pods, and 12-15 almonds
- First, boil the rice and milk in a deep pan.
- Stir occasionally until the rice is cooked and the milk becomes thick.
- Add in the sugar, raisins, and cardamoms.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with the almonds.
14. Chana Masala
Chana masala is a hearty and spicy chickpea and tomato sauce dish. Also called chole masala, this dish is an Indian comfort food that is packed with flavor and also happens to be vegan.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp oil, 1 large chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 16 oz cans of chickpeas, 2 tsp garam masala, ½ tsp turmeric, 2 tsp grated ginger, 2 large chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp lemon juice, water, fresh chopped cilantro, and salt
- In a large skillet, heat some oil and then cook the chopped onions until translucent. Add garlic and continue to sauté until golden.
- Add the strained chickpeas, garam masala, turmeric, grated ginger, tomatoes, lemon juice, and water.
- Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro and season with salt. Serve on its own in shallow bowls or over rice.
A laddu or laddoo is a ball-shaped sweet made of flour, butter, sugar, and a few other ingredients that vary from recipe to recipe. Laddoos are often eaten on holidays or religious occasions.
Ingredients: ½ cup of butter, 2 cups of gram flour, ¾ cup of powdered sugar, ¼ tsp of ground cardamom, and chopped almonds and pistachios
- In a pan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the gram flour and fry until it becomes a smooth paste and turns golden (this takes around 20 minutes).
- Let cool for 15 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar and cardamom powder then mix well by kneading it with your open palm against the base of the bowl.
- Shape dough into tight and hard balls and then role through chopped nuts.
16. Papadum and Chutney
A papadum is a thin, crisp, and round flatbread that is usually served as an appetizer or snack alongside assorted chutneys or sauces. Papadum typically uses a seasoned dough that is made from peeled black gram flour and either fried or cooked with dry heat.
Ingredients: 4 cups of black gram flour, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp cumin, salt, water, 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp fennel, 1 tsp mustard seeds, ½ cup of chopped onions, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 clove of garlic, the fruit of your choice, and 1 tsp vinegar
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, black pepper, half the cumin, and salt. Add some water and knead into a dough.
- Divide the dough into small balls and roll them out into a very thin tortilla-like shape.
- Fry each papadum in a non-stick skillet with a small amount of oil until they are crispy.
- Now its time to make the chutney or sauce. First, heat some oil in a separate pan and sauté the rest of the cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Once fragrant, transfer to a small bowl or jar.
- Add in the onions, cayenne, garlic, and your main fruit which can be mangoes or cranberries. Finally, add the vinegar to complete your chutney.
- Eat the papadum by dipping it into your chutney sauce.
17. Cham Cham
Sometimes called ‘Pleasure Boats’, Cham Cham are a Bengali sweet that can be found in many Indian sweet shops. They are flavored with rose water, saffron, and lemon or lime juice and are garnished with condensed milk and coconut shavings.
Ingredients: 2 liters of milk, 3 tbsp lime juice, 2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of water, and 1 tbsp saffron syrup
- In a pot, boil the milk and lime juice. When curds begin to separate from the milk, turn off the heat.
- Strain the milk mixture keeping the curds which should be washed well under running water and drained. Put the drained curds into a mixing bowl and begin to knead them together.
- Divide the curd dough into small balls and roll. Press them into an oblong shape.
- Mix the sugar and water in a pressure cooker and bring to a boil creating a syrup. Keep the syrup boiling then add the cham cham and cook for 10 minutes. Once done, remove from syrup and let cool.
- Garnish with rose water or saffron syrup.
18. Gulab Jamun
Gulab jamun is one of India's most popular desserts and is often referred to as an ‘Indian doughnut’. This delicious treat consists of soft fried dough balls that are traditionally made from evaporated milk and soaked in rose-flavored syrup.
Ingredients: 6 cups of water, 3 cups of sugar, 1 tbsp cardamom powder, 2 tbsp rose water, 3 cups of powdered milk, 1½ cups of flour, 1½ tsp baking powder, and 1 cup of thickened cream
- In a deep pan, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Then add in the cardamom powder and rose water.
- In a separate bowl, mix the powdered milk, flour, and baking powder. Add the cream and knead together to make a dough.
- Divide the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll until smooth.
- Then fry on medium heat.
- Once cooked, drain with a slotted spoon and then transfer immediately into the rose syrup.
- Allow the gulab jamun to soak in the syrup for at least 2 hours before serving.
Kulfi is an Indian ice cream dessert. This dessert originated during the Mughal Empire in the 16th century and is made with condensed milk and sugar.
Ingredients: 400g of condensed milk, 1 cup of cream, ½ cup of mango pulp, and 12-15 almonds
- In a bowl, mix in the condensed milk, cream, and mango pulp.
- Blend together and then add chopped almonds.
- Mix well and pour into popsicle molds.
- Place in a freezer that is set at the warmest setting.
- Wait until the kulfi hardens then take the mold out of the freezer and press the kulfi out with the help of a knife into a serving bowl.
- Garnish the ice cream with some silver leaf and nuts and serve immediately.
Tips to Help you Make the Best Indian Food
- Most Indian dishes start with cooking whole spices and onions in a small amount of oil. First, add the spices and toast them until fragrant to get the most flavor from them. Once fragrant and sputtering, add in the onions and cook until golden brown.
- To make the lentil dishes more flavorful, you can roast the lentils before cooking them.
- Make desserts with full cream milk, to get a thick creamy texture.
- While boiling milk, always add a little water at the base of the vessel to keep the milk from sticking to the bottom.
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