Indian is classic take-out food. However, a lot of time, your dinner arrives cold and over-salted, leaving you feeling bloated and unsatisfied. The rich flavors of Indian food don’t need extra salt and additives to make them taste good, and making your own dishes at home will prove this to you. Homemade Indian might sound intimidating, but with the right recipes, you can master the cuisine in your own kitchen. Check out these dishes and see how you can do away with take-out.
1. Butter Chicken
Our first recipe comes from The Kitchen Paper and it yields Indian butter chicken. It’s an easier spin on one of your favorite dishes to order. Once you’ve combined your browned chicken, sauce, and cream, you’ll let your butter chicken simmer in the skillet for 10 to 15 minutes before seasoning and serving with rice and naan.
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
- 2 cups cream
- Salt & pepper
- Lime & cilantro, for garnish
- Naan & rice for serving
Directions: Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown both sides of your chicken.
Melt another 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften. This will take about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low and cook chicken longer for more tender chicken.
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve garnished with lime and cilantro, alongside rice and naan.
2. Channa Masala
Vegetarians love channa masala, and this homemade version of the dish from Epicurious will have meat-lovers craving it, too. It’s all about the chickpeas, sauce, and spices. Garam masala makes another star appearance, as do turmeric and ginger. These spices perfectly flavor the chickpeas that are cooked in tomatoes, lemon juice, and water. Once ready, the channa masala can be served in bowls topping any warm grain.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (15- to 16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala or good-quality curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, or to taste
- Salt to taste
- Hot cooked grain (rice, quinoa, or couscous), optional
Directions: Heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Add the chickpeas, garam masala, turmeric, ginger, tomatoes, lemon juice, and about ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer, then cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the cilantro and season with salt. Serve on its own in shallow bowls or over a hot cooked grain, if desired.
3. Chicken Tikka Masala
Next up: chicken tikka masala from Food & Wine. That’s a dish most meat-eaters will recognize. Once again, it’s all about the spices, chicken, tomatoes, and cream. You’ll want to prepare for this dinner ahead of time, as the chicken will need to marinate. However, once it’s ready, your meal can be on the table in one hour. It serves six and is sure to please. The chicken curry is filling enough that you can serve it on its own or pair it with a salad.
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chile powder
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 cup yogurt (plain or coconut)
- 3 pounds chicken breast, cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 5 tomatoes, chopped
- 3 green cardamom pods
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions: Combine the turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, and red chile powder to make a spice blend; divide the blend in half. Combine half of the spice blend with 4 minced cloves of garlic, ginger, yogurt and chicken; mix together by hand in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 6 hours.
Warm the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, another minute. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom pods, white pepper, and the other half of the spice blend. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until dark and thick, about 40 minutes.
While the sauce is darkening, prepare the chicken. Skewer the chicken pieces and grill over direct high heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, flipping once. Alternatively, broil in the oven, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, then remove from the skewers and set aside.
Once the sauce is dark, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the skillet, straining through a mesh strainer to catch the cardamom shells and tomato skins. Stir in the cream; return to a simmer and cook until slightly darkened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
Stir in the cilantro and chicken pieces and allow to simmer for another minute before serving.
4. Indian Dal Nirvana
The Indian cuisine is easily vegetarian-friendly, and this recipe for Indian dal from Steamy Kitchen proves it. The creamy lentil dish is full of fiber and protein so it’ll still satiate you, especially when served with rice and/or naan. Even better, lentil dishes are the easiest to make, as all you need to do is simmer your lentils with spices, tomato, butter, salt, and pepper. The Indian dal will be ready in an hour, at which point you can stir in your cream and garnish with cilantro.
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 6 ounces canned crushed tomato
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Directions: In a large sauce pan, add the lentils and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain the water and return lentils to the pot.
Stir the lentils around, mashing some of them against the pot. Add the crushed tomato, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until the dal is thick. Stir in cream, and garnish with minced cilantro.
5. Paneer Curry
Cheese, please. There may not be meat in this paneer curry from Bon Appetit, but there is cheese, and lots of it. Aside from cheese, peas are the other stars of the show, making this dinner one you can feel good about eating. You’ll get six servings out of the paneer curry that is cooked exclusively in a large skillet. Adjust the spices and seasonings to your liking and you can also base your cooking time on how thick you like your curry.
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 pound paneer or firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into ¾- to 1-inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons usli ghee, divided
- 1 large onion, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 Serrano chile, minced with seeds
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added purée
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 ½ cups shelled fresh peas
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Steamed basmati rice
Add shelled fresh peas and cooked paneer; gently fold to incorporate evenly. Cook mixture over medium-low heat until peas are tender and paneer is heated through, folding occasionally, about 5 minutes. Fold in garam masala and cilantro. Season curry to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed basmati rice.
6. Tandoori Tofu
Last is one more veggie-friendly dish from Eating Well. Many people enjoy tandoori chicken, but now everyone can indulge in homemade tandoori tofu. Grab your spices, tofu, and yogurt, and you’re good to go. This healthy dish yields only 177 calories per serving and it’s high-protein and low-carb. No one should be intimidated by tofu. It’s easy to prepare, and for this dinner, all you need to do is pat it dry, brush it with oil, and then grill it on both sides. Serve your grilled tofu with your yogurt sauce and spice oil and you’ll surprise yourself by your ability to excel as a chef of Indian cuisine.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 (14-ounce) packages extra-firm or firm water-packed tofu, drained
- 2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 6 tablespoons sliced scallions or chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Directions: Preheat grill to medium-high. Combine paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander and turmeric in a small bowl. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, lime juice and the spice mixture; cook, stirring, until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Slice each tofu block crosswise into 6 slices; pat dry. Use about 3 tablespoons of the spiced oil to brush both sides of the tofu slices; sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
Oil the grill rack. Grill the tofu until it has grill marks and is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Combine yogurt with the reserved spiced oil in a small bowl. Serve the grilled tofu with the yogurt sauce, garnished with scallions (or cilantro), if desired.