- Food and Cooking
Every Day Indian Food
People will tell you that cooking Indian food is hard and complicated.
But it doesn't have to be.
Sure, some dishes are very complex, but there's also many delicious every day meals you can easily make at home.
My husband and I decided we wanted to raise our children to see Indian food not as a separate category of "ethnic" food, but as standard, normal fare.
Here are some of the recipes that we love!
I've heard it said that using rice with a meal is a South Indian thing, while using bread is a North Indian thing. I'm not sure that's so true anymore.
Especially in America, we love to have both rice and bread with our Indian food (I know I do!)
In restaurants people usually order naan, the fluffy soft bread. It is delicious, but for everyday cooking there is a much easier bread to make: the roti (also called chapati).
Whenever I've eaten at Indian homes, this is always the accompanying bread. And I can see why. It's delicious and super easy to make. (You could easily also use this for tortillas or tacos)
Prep Time: 15
Total Time: 20
- 1 Cup Flour (almost any variety. Traditionally a whole grain
- but I prefer All Purpose white)
- 1/2 Cup Warm water
- 1/2 tsp Table salt
- Small amount melted butter or ghee
- Small amount oil
- frying pan or tawa (iron is best)
- Mix the flour, salt, and water together. Give it some time to mix before adding any additional water, it will usually come together well with this proportion.
- Knead the dough until it becomes elastic, then rub the surface with some oil and let rest in a bowl with a damp cloth over it. Leave it to rest for at least ten minutes.
- Split into 8 balls. Flatten each one with a rolling pin until it is very thin and round.
- Get the frying pan or tawa very hot, the surface rubbed with a little oil.
- Fry each roti for about thirty seconds on each side. As they come off the pan, brush with butter on both sides.
- This will be two roti per person, so adjust the recipe accordingly if you'd like more!
Want to be authentic? This is the pan you'll find in Indian homes. I've got one!
This is a great way to roll out rotis
You could probably use this to make the steps even shorter and easier!
Dal - (Lentils/beans)
Dal is beans cooked to a chili-type consistency. They are thick, warm, textured, and the perfect comfort food. Nothing fills me up like a good dal (also called daal).
I personally prefer dals made from beans like red kidney (rajma), black beans, chick peas. Many are made from yellow lentils, which I really don't like the taste of!
Here is a simple rajma recipe (one of the very few I managed to find that doesn't require a pressure cooker or start from dry beans and require you to soak them)
Prep Time: 5
Total Time: 25
- 2 (20 oz) cans of Red Kidney Beans
- 1/4 Cup Oil
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 TBS salt
- 1 cup pureed or finely chopped onion (food processor recommended!)
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 15 oz. can of tomato puree
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- To start, rinse the beans in cool water and set aside soaking in 4 cups of water until they are needed.
- Heat in frying pan the oil, add cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger. Fry until the garlic begins to brown, then add the onion puree. Sautee over medium heat for six or seven minutes until the onion browns.
- Add tomatoes, turmeric, and salt and cook for a couple of minutes.
- If your frying pan is large enough, add the beans and water (if not, transfer to a pot and then add the beans and water)
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes or longer until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in garam masala.
I don't know how I managed without a food processor
I use this thing every single day! It makes Indian food much easier, since a lot of times you'll want to process onions and garlic into a fine paste.
Before I got it, I wondered what people use these things for! Now I use it every day!
Chick pea curry
Here is a great recipe for chana masala:
If you don't have an ingredient or two, try making the recipe without. A lot of times it will still come out yummy!
A Pressure Cooker makes a lot of Indian food easier!
I never would have thought it would be so useful to have! But many dal/lentil/bean recipes call for a pressure cooker.
Some more recipe ideas from YouTube
Subzi (Vegetable side dishes)
Here are some super simple ideas for veggies to go with your lentils!
- Slice a cucumber and drizzle with salt and vinegar
- Grated carrots with some lemon juice and salt
- Fry cauliflower florets with garlic and turmeric
Look up Indian grocery stores in your area to get all the spices you need at better prices than at the grocery store!
The Indian meal
The way to serve a complete meal is to have lots of small dishes available. Rice, vegetables, beans, and pickles each served in its own small dish to make up a whole meal.
I love having my own thali. It's a large plate and you add small bowls to it and put the bread in the middle. In our household we each get our own thali! You can also get a plate with divisions for food right on the plate itself.
For lunches you can pack a traditional Indian tiffin (similar concept to the bento box).
Samosas - Pastry with potato filling.
Not quite as simple and easy as the rest of the recipes here, but one of the most beloved kind of Indian food and definitely worth making!
There are different ways to do the filling, but this is a quick and easy one.
- 1 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 TBS Butter
- 1/8 Cup Water
- 6 -7 Medium Potatoes
- 1/2 Cup Green Peas
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- finely chopped
- For the dough:
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt and butter until it is crumbly. Pour in water a little at a time until it is a smooth dough. Pat into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
- For the filling:
- Boil the potatoes until soft but not too soft. Cut into pieces.
- Fry the garlic in a little oil, add the peas, potatoes, garam masala, turmeric, and salt. Fry until it is all mixed together. Either have the potatoes chopped very fine or put the mix into a food processor.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll thin. Drop some filling in the middle, wet the edges, and seal shut.
- Usually samosas are fried in oil until golden brown, but they can also be baked. Put oven at 350 and bake for about 25 minutes
Anything can be a curry.
Go ahead and experiment with your frying pan.
Fry some potatoes in an Indian spice mix (garam masala mixes are easy to use), add some onions and garlic, add some veggies, maybe throw in a little tomato sauce and a touch of cream (or condensed milk).
You've got a curry!
I always like to end my meal with something sweet.
My personal favorite is gulab jamun. If you've ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you've probably tasted these. They are little balls of dough fried and soaked in syrup. Basically, Indian doughnuts.
Surprisingly easy to make at home! I learned my recipe from Manjula at ManjulasKitchen.com
- 1 Cup Milk Powder
- 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 3 TBS room temperature Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 Cup room temperature Whole Milk
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1 and 3/4 Cups White Sugar
- 1 and 1/2 Cups Water
- 4 coarsly ground Cardamom Seeds
- Oil for deep frying
- For the syrup:
- In a pan with high lips around the edge: add water, sugar, and ground cardamom seeds. Bring it to a boil.
- Let boil for a minute then remove it from the heat.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside
- Gulab Jamun:
- Mix milk powder, flour and baking soda.
- Add the butter and mix well.
- Add milk to make a soft, sticky dough.
- Let sit for a few minutes. Milk powder will absorb the extra milk. If the dough is dry, add more milk.
- Grease your hands with butter and knead the dough.
- Divide it into about 20 small, round balls.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. The frying pan should have at least 1.5 inch of oil. To test if the oil is the right temperature, place a small piece of dough into the oil; it should take a minute to rise. If dough rises faster, oil is too hot; if dough just sits without rising, oil is not hot enough.
- Place the gulab Jamuns in the frying pan. Note: They will expand to double in volume, so give them enough space.
- It should take about 7 minutes to fry the gulab jamuns. While frying keep rolling the gulab jamuns around so they are evenly browned. Fry until the gulab jamuns become dark brown.
- Let the gulab jamuns cool off for a few minutes before placing in the hot syrup. The gulab jamuns should sit in the hot syrup for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.
- These taste best warm, but are still good when cool!
Halwa - This is my husband's favorite.
It's a carrot-based pudding.
- 8 -10 medium Carrots
- 2 Cups Milk
- 3/4 Cups Sugar
- 3 TBS butter
- Optional: Raisins
- cashew nuts
- In a heavy bottomed pan, melt butter.
- Add grated carrots and heat for a few minutes.
- Add milk and keep on medium heat, stirring constantly until the milk is mostly absorbed by the carrots.
- Stir in sugar and keep heating and mixing until the consistency is like pudding.
- Add rasins or nuts if desired.
Homemade Gulab Jamun
Interpreting Indian Menus
Whether you're looking up a recipe online or looking at an Indian restaurant's menu, here are some Hindi words you should know!
- Palak or Saag = Spinach
- Paneer = Cheese
- Murgh = Chicken
- Subzi or Subji = Vegetable
- Aloo = Potato
- Chana = Chick Peas
- Masala = A Mixture
- Gobhi = Cauliflower
- Gajar = Carrot
- Matar or Mutter = Peas
Recommended Sources for Recipes
Theses sites are great for Indian recipes