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Every Day Indian Food

Updated on April 7, 2013

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!

Chow Times.com
Chow Times.com

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)

Cook Time

Prep Time: 15

Total Time: 20

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Split into 8 balls. Flatten each one with a rolling pin until it is very thin and round.
  4. Get the frying pan or tawa very hot, the surface rubbed with a little oil.
  5. Fry each roti for about thirty seconds on each side. As they come off the pan, brush with butter on both sides.
  6. This will be two roti per person, so adjust the recipe accordingly if you'd like more!
Cast your vote for Bread (roti)

Supplies

Futura Hard Anodised Concave Tava Griddle, 10-Inch, 6.35mm with Steel Handle
Futura Hard Anodised Concave Tava Griddle, 10-Inch, 6.35mm with Steel Handle

Want to be authentic? This is the pan you'll find in Indian homes. I've got one!

 
Chef Pro 10 Inch Tortilla Maker/Flat Bread Maker
Chef Pro 10 Inch Tortilla Maker/Flat Bread Maker

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)

Cook Time

Prep Time: 5

Total Time: 25

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. To start, rinse the beans in cool water and set aside soaking in 4 cups of water until they are needed.
  2. 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.
  3. Add tomatoes, turmeric, and salt and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. 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)
  5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or longer until the sauce thickens.
  6. 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.

Hamilton Beach 70610 500-Watt Food Processor, Standard Packaging, White
Hamilton Beach 70610 500-Watt Food Processor, Standard Packaging, White

Before I got it, I wondered what people use these things for! Now I use it every day!

 

Chana Masala

Chick pea curry

Here is a great recipe for chana masala:

Smitten Kitchen

Tip:

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

Tip:

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.

Serving Size

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. For the dough:
  2. 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.
  3. For the filling:
  4. Boil the potatoes until soft but not too soft. Cut into pieces.
  5. 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.
  6. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll thin. Drop some filling in the middle, wet the edges, and seal shut.
  7. 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!

Dessert

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. For the syrup:
  2. In a pan with high lips around the edge: add water, sugar, and ground cardamom seeds. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Let boil for a minute then remove it from the heat.
  4. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside
  5. Gulab Jamun:
  6. Mix milk powder, flour and baking soda.
  7. Add the butter and mix well.
  8. Add milk to make a soft, sticky dough.
  9. Let sit for a few minutes. Milk powder will absorb the extra milk. If the dough is dry, add more milk.
  10. Grease your hands with butter and knead the dough.
  11. Divide it into about 20 small, round balls.
  12. 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.
  13. Place the gulab Jamuns in the frying pan. Note: They will expand to double in volume, so give them enough space.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. These taste best warm, but are still good when cool!

Halwa - This is my husband's favorite.

It's a carrot-based pudding.

Ingredients

  • 8 -10 medium Carrots
  • grated
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 3/4 Cups Sugar
  • 3 TBS butter
  • Optional: Raisins
  • cashew nuts
  • almonds

Instructions

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt butter.
  2. Add grated carrots and heat for a few minutes.
  3. Add milk and keep on medium heat, stirring constantly until the milk is mostly absorbed by the carrots.
  4. Stir in sugar and keep heating and mixing until the consistency is like pudding.
  5. Add rasins or nuts if desired.

Homemade Gulab Jamun

Homemade Gulab Jamun
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

What is your favorite Indian food?

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    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @gilsoffthehook lm: Naan is a little trickier than roti, but not bad! What's neat with naan is that it usually has yogurt in the dough.

    • gilsoffthehook lm profile image

      gilsoffthehook lm 4 years ago

      Great lens! I love Indian food and make my own samosas and curry all the time. At the moment I have been looking for a recipe for naan bread as I just can't eat curry without my naan but it gets expensive buying it!

    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @LeenaBK LM: :) We love Indian food at our house, as I'm sure you can see. We also have lentil and roti very frequently. It's so easy and healthy!

    • LeenaBK LM profile image

      LeenaBK LM 4 years ago

      I'm an Indian and it's really nice to know that you've accepted Indian food as a normal fare. Roti and dal are a daily for me. I make them with different lentils every day and rajma is one of my favorites which I make especially when I have guests at home. I love samosas too and gulab jamun is my son's favorite.

    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @InfoCoop: I hope it turns out great!

    • InfoCoop profile image

      InfoCoop 4 years ago

      So glad I ran across this! Can't wait to try making my own Gulab Jaman. My husband will be so surprised.

    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @Whatsittoyou: I haven't tried to make biryani yet! It seems complicated to me, but maybe once I do it it won't be too bad.

    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @Vikk Simmons: I hope you'll be able to get your Indian food fix at home :) Naan isn't too bad to make either. I know the dough has yogurt in it and you can bake it to get the tandori oven effect.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      I love, love, love Dal, and Dal with Naan is even better. I've been bummed out ever since they closed the fantastic Indian restaurant that was pretty close to me. Thanks for the recipes.

    • GrimRascal profile image

      GrimRascal 4 years ago from Overlord's Castle

      Yum yum!

    • Whatsittoyou profile image

      Whatsittoyou 4 years ago from Canada

      My favorite Indian food is biryani. We had a pot luck dinner at work and someone brought in. I had to get the recipe from them it was so good.

    • shewins profile image

      shewins 4 years ago

      All of this food looks really good. Thanks.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 4 years ago

      I always wanted to try to make Indian food, thanks for sharing!

    • RuthMadison profile image
      Author

      RuthMadison 4 years ago

      @Splodgered: What a great idea! I hope you'll let us know how that goes.

    • Splodgered profile image

      Splodgered 4 years ago

      really useful lens with some great recipes. I am going to experiment with your roti recipe to see if i can make a gluten free version for my celiac wife

    • chironseer profile image

      chironseer 4 years ago

      Hi, Great lens, I will come back to this, I love the recipes, and will try them out sometime, I feel hungry now!