India makes you think of Bollywood, exotic dances and colorful sari. Equally fabulous is the cuisine of this country: hot and spicy. Indian cuisine reflects the diversity of this country and each dish is an explosion of pleasure. If you want to experience the delicious Indian flavors, but a trip there is not on your future plans, here are ten easy Indian recipes to try at home. Recipes courtesy of Good Food, Eating Well, Indian Food.
1. Creamy beetroot curry
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, very finely chopped
- 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 3 tbsp madras curry paste
- 1kg (peeled weight) raw beetroot, peeled, halved and thickly sliced
- 1 green chilli, halved lengthways
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
- 4 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt, plus extra to serve
- basmati rice, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a large lidded pan, stir in the onions and cook for 8 min until soft. Tip in the mustard seeds and cook for 1 min until toasted. Stir through the curry paste and sizzle for 3 min. Mix the beetroot through the spicy onions, then add the chili, tomatoes and 2 cans of water. Cover and simmer for 30 min, stirring occasionally, until the beetroot is tender. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook until the sauce is thick. Take off the heat, then stir through the almonds, yogurt and some seasoning. Top with yogurt and serve with basmati rice, if you like.
2. Tandoori Chicken with Tomato-Cucumber Raita
- 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
- 1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), trimmed
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
To prepare raita: Combine yogurt, cucumber, tomato, red onion, mint, 1 teaspoon cumin and salt in a small bowl; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat grill to medium-high.
To prepare chicken: Combine paprika, coriander, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large sealable plastic bag. Cut each chicken breast in half on the diagonal to make 4 approximately equal portions. Place each portion between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/4 inch. Brush the chicken with oil; place in the bag, seal and turn to coat.
Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve warm with the raita.
3. Indian Mango Dal
- 1 cup yellow lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Place lentils in a colander and rinse until the water runs clear. Combine lentils, 4 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add onion; cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Stir the garlic mixture and mangoes into the lentils. Return to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes more. Stir in cilantro.
4. Lehsuni Daal (garlic flavored lentils)
- 1 cup masoor daal
- 3 cups water
- 2 tbsps vegetable/sunflower/canola cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 onion chopped fine
- 1 tomato chopped fine
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 3 tbsps ghee (clarified butter)
- 3 dry red chillies stalks removed and broken into small pieces
- 1/2 tsp asafetida
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 8-10 cloves of garlic
Wash the daal thoroughly. Mix the daal, water, cooking oil, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt to taste, onion and tomato in the pressure cooker or a deep pan and boil till the lentils are very soft.
In another small pan, heat the ghee well and add the cumin seeds which will sizzle. When they stop sizzling add the garlic and dry red chilies and fry till the garlic is light brown. Add the asafetida and turn off the fire. Quickly add this ghee and spice mixture to the boiled daal and stir well. Eat piping hot with rice and other dishes.
5. Cardamom butter chicken
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped
- 2 green chillies, chopped (leave seeds in if you like it hot)
- small bunch coriander, leaves picked, stalks roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp ghee, or vegetable oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 tsp each turmeric, garam masala and ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into 2½ cm cubes
- 4 cloves
- 12 cardamom pods, seeds removed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 400g can tomatoes
- 150ml pot yogurt
- 50ml double cream
- chapatis and rice, to serve
Place the garlic, ginger, chillies and coriander stalks in the small bowl of a food processor with a good pinch of salt, and blend to a fine paste – or grind to a paste using a pestle and mortar.
Heat 2 tbsp of the ghee or oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook slowly for 15-20 mins until golden and caramelised. Tip in the garlic-ginger paste, turn up the heat and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the ground spices and cook for 2 min more until fragrant. Scoop the spicy onion mixture out of the pan into a bowl. Add the remaining ghee or oil to the pan and cook the chicken over a medium-high heat until browned all over. Tip into a bowl, cover and set aside.
Return the onion mixture to the pan along with the whole spices, tomatoes and a can full of water (400ml). Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for 40 min.
Return the chicken to the pan and cook, uncovered, for a further 10 min until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the yogurt and cream, season well and scatter with coriander leaves. Serve with chapatis and rice.
- 250g red or yellow lentils
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 small shallots, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground asafoetida
- ½ tsp ground fenugreek
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- 7 small dried red chillies
- 140g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
Place the lentils in a large pan with 400ml water. Add turmeric and tamarind and boil for 25-30 min until very soft. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the shallots for 8-10 min. When softened, add the spices, curry leaves, chilies and a good pinch of salt. Cook for another 2 min, until fragrant.
Boil another pan of salted water and cook the beans for 4 min until tender, then drain well. Once the lentils are cooked, add the shallot spice mix and the beans, stir well and add more seasoning if necessary.
7. Fragrant vegetable & cashew biryani
- 500g basmati rice
- 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, shredded
- 65g sachet korma curry paste (we used Sharwood’s)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 3 star anise
- 250g diced potatoes
- 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 250g Greek yogurt
- 225g frozen peas
- 2 good pinches saffron
- ½ tsp rosewater
- butter, for greasing
- 100g roasted, salted cashews nuts
For the garnish
- 2 onions, halved and very thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- good handful coriander
Rinse the rice in several changes of water to remove excess starch, then put in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, fry the onions in the oil for 8 mins until soft and starting to colour. Add the ginger, then cook for 2 mins more. Stir in the curry paste followed by the whole spices, cook for 1 min more, then tip in the potatoes and cauliflower. Pour in 300ml water, cover and boil for about 5-7 mins until the veg are just tender, but still have a little resistance. Stir in the yogurt and peas with 1 tsp salt.
Mix the saffron, rosewater and 3 tbsp boiling water together and stir well. Drain the rice, tip into a pan of boiling salted water, then cook for 5 mins until almost tender. Drain again. Get out a large ovenproof dish with a lid and butter the base. Tip the curry sauce into the base, scatter over the nuts, then spoon over the rice. Drizzle over the rosewater mixture, then cover with foil followed by the lid. Can be chilled overnight until ready to cook.
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the biryani in the oven for 45 mins-1 hr until thoroughly heated through. To check if ready, try a spoonful from the centre of the rice. For the garnish, slowly fry the onions in the oil until really golden and crisp (this can be done in advance). When the biryani is hot and ready to serve, gently toss through the onions and coriander.
8. Vegetarian Tikka Masala
- 3 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 2 14-ounce packages extra-firm or firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon canola oil plus 2 teaspoons, divided
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, quartered and sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
Combine garam masala, turmeric, salt and crushed red pepper (if using) in a small bowl. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes and blot dry with paper towels. Toss the tofu in a medium bowl with 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion, bell pepper, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and the remaining spice mix; stir until fragrant and coated, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Return the tofu to the pan; cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half-and-half.
- 500g strong white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 300ml water
Mix the flour, salt, yeast and oil in a large bowl and add enough water to make a soft, but not sloppy, dough. Knead well. Put into a lightly oiled bowl to rise for 1 hr until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces, about 250g each, and use a rolling pin to flatten each one into a circle, 15cm in diameter, about 1cm thick. Then leave the pieces on a lightly floured baking tray to prove for 5 min. Heat a large frying pan to a medium heat and dry-fry each piece until browned on both sides, about 5 min in total. Set aside to cool slightly before serving.
10. Spiced paneer
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 400g paneer, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp fenugreek seed
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- small knob of ginger, peeled and shredded into matchsticks
- 1 small red and 1 small green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 spring onions, finely shredded
Heat 1cm oil in a large frying pan and fry the paneer in batches until golden brown – watch out as the oil spits. Scoop it on to kitchen paper.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and gently fry the coriander seeds, ginger, chili and onion for about 8- 10 minutes until golden. Tip in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the other spices and honey, stir and simmer for a few minutes.
Tip the paneer into the sauce and stir. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the chopped coriander and shredded ginger. Serve sprinkled with peppers and spring onions.