Chana masala or chickpea curry, often called Amritsari Chole, originates from Punjab but is popular all over India. There are many versions of this dish and every house has its own take on it. This super authentic recipe features chickpeas smothered in a delicious thick, piquant and spiced gravy.
Get the Recipe: Chana Masala
These soft, thin and heavenly potato rotis are easy to make, taste divine and can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The trick in this recipe is not to add any water to the dough. You can have these rotis simply with yogurt and achaar (Indian pickle) as a traditional North Indian breakfast, or with any curry such as chana masala or saag paneer — or even steal a bite as a mid-day snack.
Get the Recipe: Aloo Roti
Aloo gobi, a vegetarian dish of cauliflower, potatoes and fragrant spices is a wonderful addition to any meal. This version comes together quickly (in just 45 minutes) and is guaranteed to become an instant family favorite.
Get the Recipe: Aloo Gobi
Aarti says, "Paneer is very easy to make at home, and my recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. I also think homemade has a better texture than anything store-bought." She also offers this tip: "If the milk doesn't separate, juice some more lemons and add another tablespoon or two. Boost the heat again and the milk should separate. Stir in a motion that gathers the curds together rather than breaks them up."
Get the Recipe: Saag Paneer
Matar, or fresh green peas, are the center of these flaky deep-fried snacks or kachoris. They originated in Rajasthan. Kachoris can have many different fillings. These particular ones are typically made when green peas are in season during winter and spring. The filling is lightly spiced; you don’t want to smother the taste of the green peas, just enhance it. It makes a great leftover snack and is as delicious as cold pizza is the next day.
Get the Recipe: Matar Kachori
You likely don’t have a tandoor at home but with this clever recipe you can achieve similar results in your oven. Aarti gives her chicken a nice char by broiling it before baking. This blackens the chicken and helps it develop the same kind of flavor you would achieve with the high temperature of a traditional clay tandoor.
Get the Recipe: Tandoori Chicken
This Punjabi dessert is subtle and divine without being super sweet, unlike most North Indian mithais or desserts. Almost a zen-like process, making gajar ka halwa is a labor of love; don’t rush. Enjoy the process. It will be worth it!
Get the Recipe: Gajar Ka Halwa
Aloo Matar Tikki
Aloo tikki — or potato patties — are best eaten hot, straight from the skillet to the plate. On the streets in Delhi they are deep fried in oil and served on a plate made of dried leaves. Dredged in breadcrumbs, the patties in this recipe are as crispy as the ones from the streets, and way healthier.
Get the Recipe: Aloo Matar Tikki
This flavorful lentil recipe is a fan favorite. With hundreds of 5-star reviews and comments that rave "so delicious and easy to make" and "hands down my favorite red lentil recipe yet" it’s certainly one to add to your regular rotation.
Get the Recipe: Mum's Everyday Red Lentils
The Best Baingan Bharta
This smoky roasted eggplant dish from India is one of my favorites. It’s served as a main course, as part of a selection of dishes in a thali. Different versions are made in various parts of the country but this Punjabi recipe is the most popular. The best flavor and smokiness comes from roasting the eggplant on a direct flame or grill. I never add dried spices to my baingan bharta in order to really taste the smoky eggplant with sweetness from the onions, tang from the tomatoes, a little heat from the green chiles and a burst of freshness from the cilantro. It’s precisely this combination of flavors that makes this dish so amazing!
Get the Recipe: The Best Baingan Bharta
Thandai is a rich and aromatic drink primarily made with almonds, white poppy seeds and melon seeds, and flavored with cardamom, fennel, pepper, saffron and rose petals. It’s a must-have during Holi, the spring festival of color in India, when bhang, an edible mixture made from the cannabis plant, is also added to the drink. Thandai is traditionally made with cow's milk, but it’s equally delectable with almond milk. Although you need a whole host of ingredients, it’s not difficult to make and is really refreshing and unique — even without the bhang. Not bad with a shot of vodka either!
Get the Recipe: Thandai
Simple Basmati Rice
The key to perfectly fluffy Basmati rice? Wash the rice before you cook it. This will help remove excess starch so that the grains of rice don’t stick together. Aarti adds that, "according to traditional Indian wisdom, this also makes the rice easier to digest because so much of the starch has been removed".
Get the Recipe: Simple Basmati Rice
Aarti’s chicken tikka masala starts with a simple ginger-garlic paste that she makes from scratch. She uses the paste in her chicken marinade and in her masala sauce. It works wonderfully in this dish but can add flavor to everything from slow-cooker recipes to stir-fry sauces, too. She says, "Save what you don’t use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks".
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala
Papeta par Eda
The most amazing egg recipes in India are found in the Parsi community, but papeta par eda (eggs over potatoes) is hands-down my favorite. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. Sometimes it’s even prepared with potato chips instead of sliced potatoes! If you have any leftover cooked potatoes, you can reheat them in a small skillet and poach a fresh egg on top. Sprinkle with some more chopped cilantro and you have a delicious dish in minutes.
Get the Recipe: Papeta par Eda
A truly divine naan is crispy on the outside, a little bit charred with brown spots, soft on the inside and a little chewy and fluffy in parts. Like pizza, it is cooked for a very short time at an extremely high temperature. That’s why homemade naan often doesn’t come close to naan in a restaurant that is made in a tandoor — an earthen wood or coal-fired oven. Can you make good naan at home, and is it worth even trying? YES! You can do this either on a pizza stone/steel or in a heavy cast-iron skillet/griddle. The surface needs to be searing hot, and it doesn't hurt to give it a final char directly on the flame. The result: heavenly naan.
Get the Recipe: Naan
Pani puri is a popular street food in Inida. It's fragile, puffed wafers that are popped and stuffed with filling — in this case, a spiced mixture of chickpeas and potato — before being toped off with a flavored water, which is the most important part.
Get the Recipe: Pani Puri
Decadent, sweet and delicious, a Gulab Jamun is a fried dough ball soaked in an aromatic simple syrup flavored with essence of rose (gulab) and infused with spices such as cardamom and saffron. It is then garnished with roasted nuts. One of the most popular desserts in North India, it is loved by children and adults alike. Unconventional as it may seem, the addition of alcohol in the syrup makes for a slightly less sweet syrup that is so delicious that you can't stop yourself from licking the spoon.
Get the Recipe: Gulab Jamun
Tomato-Yogurt Chicken Curry
This easy recipe is a two-for-one. You’ll end up with a hearty, full-flavored meal that the whole family will enjoy — and you’ll have leftover garam masala that you can tuck away in your spice cabinet for the next time you cook this delicious meal.
Get the Recipe: Tomato-Yogurt Chicken Curry
You only need a few basic ingredients to make kheer (an Indian rice pudding) but this sweet-and-creamy version gets an extra pop of flavor from a special ingredient: ground cardamom.
Get the Recipe: Indian Rice Pudding
Baked Samosas with Mint Chutney
Samosas may vary in shape and flavor from region to region but there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re irresistibly delicious. Making your own at home requires a few steps, but each one is completely doable. With Aarti’s recipe you’ll be making your own dough, filling and chutney in no time.
Get the Recipe: Baked Samosas with Mint Chutney
This gorgeous, sweet-savory-spiced dish makes a wonderful addition to any appetizer spread or special meal. Chaat is traditionally meant to be a snack so Maneet suggests making a double batch if you want more — or are cooking for a crowd.
Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato and Star Fruit Chaat
Richly flavored with curry paste and garam masala, this filling dal comes together fast — and is sure to become a family favorite.
Get the Recipe: Dal
This sweet treat requires a bit of advance planning since the Greek yogurt needs to strain overnight. It’s well worth the wait though — the yogurt will be wonderfully thick, perfect for making a rich, creamy shrikhand that you can dip your fried pooris into.
Get the Recipe: Shrikhand and Pooris
Mixed Vegetable Pakoras
Nidhi Jalan loves her snacks. The owner of Brooklyn-based Masala Mama calls these deep-fried veggies the "tempura" of Indian food. The spice-infused batter fries up into a puffy and crunchy coating — fresh cilantro chutney is the perfect dipping sauce.
Get the Recipe: Mixed Vegetable Pakoras
This vibrant rice is cooked with turmeric, tempered with mustard seeds, nuts and dal and finished with lemon zest and juice, resulting in an aromatic, bright, tangy and crunchy rice. It’s also a great way to revive leftover rice the next day.
Get the Recipe: South Indian-Style Yellow Rice
Samosas with Tamarind-Date Chutney
This scrumptious pyramid-shaped savory stuffed pastry is a favorite snack in India and abroad. The concept of the samosa was bought to India by Middle Eastern traders, but the original mincemeat-filled version was adapted and replaced by a vegetarian one, which has since become universally popular. Though you can still find mincemeat samosas, the type you will most likely find on street corners in India is filled with a tangy potato and pea mixture, deep fried and served with an assortment of chutneys. In a good samosa, the wrap should be flaky and crispy and the filling piquant, flavored with raw mango powder and roasted spices. There is nothing to beat a snack of freshly fried samosas served with a hot cup of chai or a whiskey.
Get the Recipe: Samosas with Tamarind-Date Chutney
Chaat is a broad term for savory vegetarian snacks. This version is from Nidhi Jalan, founder of Brooklyn-based Masala Mama. Nidhi has wonderful childhood memories of eating chaat on-the-spot from street vendors in Kolkata. She likens this personal favorite to nachos and almost prefers tortilla chips over the traditional papdi (small flour-based wafers). It's a flavor explosion of tangy, sweet, salty and spicy.
Get the Recipe: Papdi Chaat
In Bengal, narkel means coconut and naru means a ball-shaped sweet (laddoo in Hindi). Though this can be made with white sugar, it’s amazing with unrefined sugar because of the lovely earthy caramel tastes that it adds. Feel free to use any unrefined sugar you can find.
Get the Recipe: Narkel Naru
Rice and lentils team up to make a super-easy Indian dish (also called kitchari) that is reminiscent of porridge, but with plenty of lively flavor from the ginger, cumin and jalapeno. Fresh cilantro stirred in at the end adds nice flecks of bright green.
Get the Recipe: Khichdi
Maneet says, "Palak paneer is one of my favorite vegetable entrees that my Grandma would make. It was predominantly spinach with Indian cottage cheese, but she would use a variety of seasonal greens that would add more depth."
Get the Recipe: Palak Paneer
Bhel or bhel puri is a chaat (street food snack) that is all at once crunchy, tart, spicy and a little sweet. This dish is ubiquitous in Mumbai and is often made to order with puffed rice and other ingredients, then served in paper cones (typically made from newspapers) by sidewalk vendors. While you won’t find bhutta (“corn”) bhel sold on the streets, it’s popular among home cooks. Here I use fresh summer corn as the base and add cornflakes instead of the usual puffed rice, for crunch. The tangy lime dressing makes it absolutely irresistible!
Get the Recipe: Bhutta Bhel
One of the most popular desserts made on the Hindu spring festival Holi, malpuas are pan-fried pancakes dipped in a sweet saffron-and-cardamom syrup. This recipe comes from Nidhi Jalan, founder of Brooklyn-based Masala Mama, by way of her mother-in-law, who adds semolina flour to the batter for an extra-crunchy pancake edge. Nidhi call this version "simply divine" and admits that they are easily addictive.
Get the Recipe: Malpua
Aarti says, "I like to think of pakoras as the Indian tempura. They're a staple of Indian life, and are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of chai or a chilled mug of beer. The superhero ingredient here is Indian chickpea flour. No egg is required to make this batter, so it's perfect for the vegans among you!"
Get the Recipe: Vegetable Pakoras
Seekh kebab (or shish kebab) is a melt-in-your-mouth preparation said to have been brought to the Indian subcontinent by the Turks long before the Mughals popularized the concept. It traditionally consists of minced mutton threaded onto a skewer (or seekh) and cooked in a tandoor, but it’s equally delicious with minced lamb or beef. It’s also just as good cooked on a grill if you follow these guidelines: the meat should not be too lean; squeeze every bit of liquid from the onion mixture; and let the kebab mixture "marinate" for at least a couple hours.
Get the Recipe: Seekh Kebabs
Why buy premade paneer cheese when you can make your own from just two simple ingredients — in under an hour!? This versatile cheese can be used as a meat alternative (you'll find it curries and kebabs and shredded for for fillings things like stuffed peppers) and even for dessert.
Get the Recipe: Paneer: Homemade Indian Cheese
Paneer Tikka Kebabs
Paneer is a fresh unsalted Indian cheese that is made by curdling milk with vinegar or lime; the resulting milk solids are drained and then pressed into blocks. It’s mostly used in North India and Pakistan, although you do see a lot of desserts in Bengal made with unpressed paneer. These kebabs consist of marinated chunks of paneer skewered with vegetables and gently charred on a grill. The result is luscious, piquant and smoky and can be served as an appetizer with chutney or as a main course with naan and dal makhani.
Get the Recipe: Paneer Tikka Kebabs
This has to be one of the most popular and delicious dals in India. Luscious and rich with a deep flavor, this dal is made mostly with a whole black lentil called sabut urad dal and a smattering of red kidney beans. Originally from Peshawar (now in Pakistan), this Punjabi dal was brought to India during the Partition and became an instant classic, served everywhere from 5-star hotels to roadside dhabas (shacks). There are various versions of this dish, such as kali dal, ma ki dal and dal bukhara. This version, dal makhani, was created by the founder of Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, who added kidney beans, tomato and cream. Traditionally it is made in a clay pot and simmered for 24 hours, but a pressure cooker speeds that up. It makes great leftovers because it tastes even better the next day.
Get the Recipe: Dal Makhani
Jalebis are much-loved sweets in India: You can get a bowl of freshly fried jalebis on the street any day, but they’re also specially prepared for occasions such as weddings, Holi, Diwali and Eid. The best ones are made by halwais (confectionery chefs). Though they originated in Persia as a sweet called zulbia, they were brought to India by Persian traders and have now been completely appropriated by us! The perfect jalebi is made with a fermented batter and is crispy outside, a little chewy inside and ever so slightly sour from the fermentation. It’s then dipped in a saffron and cardamom flavored syrup and eaten while still hot. When the fermented batter is fried, chemistry happens and a hollow center forms in the jalebi that gets filled with the saffron flavored syrup. It’s quite a little miracle!
Get the Recipe: Jalebi
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Southern India during which this comforting and lovely dessert is made. Traditionally it’s cooked with freshly harvested rice and moong lentils and sweetened with jaggery (a raw Indian sugar that has an earthy-caramel taste). It’s mixed with a nice dollop of ghee, which gives the dish a velvety texture, then it’s finished with cashews to add a nice crunch. Served hot, it’s a heartwarming dessert for the winter, and leftovers make a really good breakfast in the morning!
Get the Recipe: Chakkarai Pongal
Mini Chai Cheesecakes with Parle G Crusts and Salted Caramel
Do you love chai tea and cheesecake? This is an absolutely dreamy combination of the two. And it's made even better with a crust of Parle G biscuits. (In India, the biscuits are typically dipped in tea — making this dessert's flavors a classic pairing.) Baked in muffin pans, these cupcake-sized cheesecakes can be enjoyed any time of the day.
Get the Recipe: Mini Chai Cheesecakes with Parle G Crusts and Salted Caramel