8 Recipes for a Culinary Passage to India
Indian food is unrivaled when it comes to variations and flavors. The Culinary Scoop explains that this is because food is tied to region in India, with localities imparting their own flavors, traditions, and ingredients on dishes. As a result, the possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking Indian food, and you’ll never be bored with this vibrant cuisine. To get you started cooking fabulous Indian food at home, check out these eight recipes.
1. Masala Omelette
Start your day off right with Edible Garden‘s Indian-style omelette. You can use any vegetables you’d like, and if you have the time, sauté the vegetables before making the omelette. This recipe makes two servings.
- 4 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of shallots or minced onions
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped capsicum (bell pepper)
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon of curry powder or garam masala
- ½ teaspoon of salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 teaspoons of oil
Directions: Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add all other ingredients (except oil) and beat again. Heat the oil in a small pan and swirl around so it coats it completely. Pour half the egg mixture in the pan and cook until the edges curl over and the center bubbles up.
Gently flip the omelette over and cook for another minute (the center may be jiggly, but the edges will have cooked). The omelette will rise a bit and then fall, making it fluffy and soft. Add more pepper powder on top if you prefer. Serve hot with toast or ketchup, or eat on its own.
Padma Lakshmi’s keema was featured on the Food Network. It is ground veal and beef, seasoned with Indian spices and served with peas. If you cannot find Indian flatbreads, use tortillas. It will serve between four and six people.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 8 ounces ground veal
- 8 ounces ground lean beef
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced gingerroot, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh hot green chilies, or to taste
- 3 cups frozen peas
- 1 lemon, juiced, or to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, or to taste
- Indian flatbreads (rotis) or tortillas as an accompaniment
Directions: In a nonstick skillet set over moderately high heat, warm the oil until hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the veal, beef, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring until no longer pink. Add the garlic, tomatoes, ginger root, garam masala, and chilies, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add the peas and continue to cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more, or until flavors blend. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro and correct seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Either transfer to a bowl and serve with warm rotis or tortillas, or spoon keema down center of bread and roll up like a burrito.
Manjula’s Kitchen has detailed instructions for naan — Indian flatbread — that will have even novice bread bakers anxious to try it out. It makes six naan, and if you do not have a pizza stone, you can use baking sheets. You just need to turn the naan once the tops are cooked.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plain flour or maida)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 2½ tablespoons yogurt (curd or dahi)
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon of clear butter (ghee) to butter the naan
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour for rolling
Directions: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and let sit for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy. Add sugar, salt, and baking soda to the flour and mix well.
Add the oil and yogurt to make crumbly dough. Add the water/yeast mixture and additional water as needed to make into firm dough. Note: The dough will soften as it rises. Knead the dough until smooth. Cover the dough and keep in a warm place three to four hours, until nearly double in volume.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with pizza stone (baking stone) for approximately 30 minutes, until stone is hot. Using a baking/pizza stone will help to give the naan close to same kind of heat as a clay tandoor. Next, turn the oven to high broil.
Knead the dough for about one minute. Divide it into six equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into eight ovals. Dust the surface lightly with dry flour to help with the rolling. Lightly wet your hands and flip the rolled naan between your palms. Place two naan on your baking/pizza stone and put it into the oven.
Bake the naan two at a time. The naan will take two to three minutes to cook, depending upon your oven. The baked naan should be golden brown on top. Take naan out of the oven and brush lightly with clear butter or ghee. Wait two to three minutes before baking the next naan to give oven a chance to regain lost heat.
4. Cardamom Chicken Curry
- 1½ cups plain yogurt, plus more for garnish
- 1½ teaspoons Kashmiri chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 12 pods green cardamom, crushed
- 2 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs and legs
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 3 pods black cardamom
- 1 (2-inch) stick cinnamon
- 2 small yellow onions, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced, plus more julienned for garnish
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish
- 4 cups cooked rice, for serving
Directions: Combine yogurt, chile powder, turmeric, salt, and 8 pods green cardamom in a large bowl; add chicken, mix, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Heat oil in a 6-quart pot over high heat. Add remaining green cardamom along with peppercorns, black cardamom, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add onions, garlic, chiles, and ginger; cook, stirring and adding a few tablespoons of water as needed, until onions are browned, 12-15 minutes. Add chicken and marinade; cook, flipping chicken occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated, 20-30 minutes. Add ⅓ cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; cook, stirring, until sauce has thickened, 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and garnish with ginger, cilantro, and yogurt; serve with rice.
5. Spicy Sautéed Spinach
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
- 1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped
- 2 dried chiles de árbol or 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 4 bunches flat-leaf spinach, stemmed, very coarsely chopped
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions: Heat ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, chiles, garlic, and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring often, until garlic begins to brown and mustard seeds pop, about 1 minute. Add spinach to skillet by the handful, allowing it to wilt between additions. Cook, tossing often, until spinach is tender, 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Cucumber Raita
From The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm is this raita. Light and refreshing, raitas are served to contrast spicy dishes at meals.
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cups plain, whole-milk yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander or mint leaves, chopped
- cayenne or paprika to garnish
Directions: Peel cucumber. Cut lengthwise into ¼-inch strips, then into thin slices crosswise. Blot off moisture with paper towels. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat. In a bowl, stir yogurt until it is smooth. Mix it with the cumin, garlic, and coriander or mint leaves. Combine mixture with cucumber slivers, sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, and chill before serving.
7. Mango Dal
Eating Well says that the ripeness of your mango will affect the flavor of this dish. A ripe mango will infuse it with sweeter flavors, but will not hold up well — alternatively, underripe mangos give a tart taste and will stay intact. This recipe makes about six 1-cup servings.
- 1 cup yellow lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Place lentils in a colander and rinse until the water runs clear. Combine lentils, 4 cups water, ½ 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 ½ 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.
8. Chocolate Rice Kheer
Sanjeev Kapoor‘s kheer is served at room temperature, although others serve their rice puddings warm, as well. It serves four and can also be topped with nuts, like walnuts.
- ½ cup grated chocolate
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 1 tablespoon rice, soaked
- ½ cup cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
Directions: Heat 2 cups milk in a deep nonstick pan. Add rice and cook until completely soft. Keep bowl with grated chocolate in a microwave and melt for 1 minute. Put cream in a bowl, add ½ cup milk, and mix well. Whisk chocolate well, add the cream, and whisk again. Put a little of this chocolate sauce in each shot glass.
When rice is completely cooked, add sugar and mix until it dissolves. Fill up each glass with this kheer while still hot. Let it cool down to room temperature and serve.