Recipes for an Indian feast
We've pulled together our best Indian recipes, from spice mixes and pastes to curries and desserts... so get inspired and start feasting.
As one of the most varied and complex cuisines around it is exciting for any cook to tackle an Indian meal with all its dishes, sides, accompaniments and condiments.
It's all in the spices
To prepare Indian dishes with authentic flavours, a cook needs to use a range of herbs, spices, seeds and powders to add the heady aromatic, sweet, sour, bitter and salty notes. The Indian ingredients guide highlights some of the main ingredients used in Indian cuisine, and includes tips on buying, storing, roasting and grinding spices.
Garam masala is an Indian pantry staple. It’s an aromatic and flavourful spice mix that is used as a base in curries, dhals and stews. You can buy garam masala from most supermarkets or preferably Indian grocers, however for best results flavour-wise, we recommend making your own batch – Bevan Smith’s recipe is a good one to follow, but feel free to adjust the quantities to suit your personal taste. Use garam masala in this recipe for spice-rubbed beef steaks.
Curry powder is similar to garam masala in that it’s a ground spice mixture used as a base for curries. Like garam masala, the ingredients vary from region to region, and by personal taste. Its main ingredients include cinnamon, cumin, cloves, coriander, mustard seeds, pepper, turmeric and fenugreek. Chilli is also added and quantities used depend on the heat that is required for the dish. Use this curry powder mix recipe as a guide to making your own blend, and once you’ve got a stash of curry powder, try them in these recipes.
- Curried lamb and chickpea patties
- Curried egg bruschetta
- Curry crushed potatoes with haloumi and poached eggs
Another handy spice mix to have on hand is tandoori paste, it serves as a great tasting marinade that delivers authentic Indian flavours. It is well-balanced combination of Indian spices, garlic, ginger and tamarind paste and usually mixed with yoghurt as a marinade in roasts, grills and barbecues. Tandoori spice powder or paste is readily available in supermarkets and Indian grocers, or try Nadia Lim's recipe below in these recipes.
- Tandoori lamb cutlets, kachumba and ginger raita
- Tandoori chicken skwerers with lemon, coconut and almond pilaf
- Tandoori yoghurt-marinated chicken thighs with raita
- Tandoori chicken sliders
Nadia Lim's tandoori paste
Mix 1½ tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, ½ tsp ground chilli, 1½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 Tbsp tomato paste and 2 Tbsp oil together. Makes approximately ¼ cup.
Spice up your traditional Sunday roast
Smother a whole chicken with a yoghurt marinade flavoured with, and the result is a richly-spiced butter chicken. Simon Gault cooks a roast chicken with his Indian seasoning, ginger, garlic and cardamom and serves it with a slightly sweet banana and coconut raita. A boned lamb shoulder is rubbed with a spice mix of cumin, coriander, mustard, garam masala, turmermic and ground cardamom for a flavourful Indian-spiced lamb roast that’s served with a lemon pilaf rice infused with plenty of fresh coriander.
Spice up your next party with these Indian-inspired nibbles.
- Al Brown marinates his Komal's chicken wings for at least a couple of days allows the flavour of the masala to deeply infuse, and the results as Al puts it, is unreal.
- Nadia Lim’s spiced cauliflower fritters can be made into delicious bite-sized morsels, best served with a coriander and carrot yoghurt.
- Bevan Smith's Indian potato cakes (aloo ki tikki) are spicy and flavourful and balanced nicely when dipped in an Indian-style fruit chutney.
- And Warren Elwin uses kingfish in his recipe for Indian-spiced fish kebabs which are a good alternative to the usual barbecue flavours.
One of the pleasures of travelling through India is the extraordinary aromas and flavours of the street food on offer. These snacks are a cheap way to eat and never fail to deliver an authentic taste of Indian cuisine.
- Curry puffs are a versatile snack that will be a hit at any party. Angela Casley adds kumara, carrot and spinach to the spiced potato mixture, but you can get creative with the filling and use other vegetables or meat.
- Pakoras are spicy battered vegetable snacks.
- Samosas are a fried or baked pastry filled with a savoury spiced potato and pea filling. Take it up a notch by serving it with an Indian tomato sauce (or kasundi) – it complements the flavours of the samosa with sweet, spicy and tart notes.
- Chaat or dahi puri is a crispy, puffy shell snack popular on the streets of Mumbai. Buy the dahi puri from Indian grocers, and fill it with spiced potato, peas, sev (a crunchy noodle snack), tamarind and yoghurt.
A word about curry
The word curry is used to describe any spicy dish whether it is a meat or vegetarian dish, or a dry or gravy-based Indian dish. It’s a rather loose term that some say originated from the days of the British Raj, as a blanket description for Indian food. There are so many different curries in India, from cooking styles and ingredients to preparation methods. Peter Gordon describes some of the curry styles in India and Asia and delves into one of the most popular curries in the world – the tikka masala.
We’ve come to know and love these classic Indian curries. Enjoy the process of cooking a curry – from buying and measuring out the spices, to making the paste and frying it up to release the aromas, it’s one of the most deliciously satisfying acts of cooking.
That leads us to everyone's favourite, the chicken curry
There are numerous ways of cooking a chicken curry, and it’s no wonder that the chicken curry is one of the most popular curries in the Western world. The crowd-pleasing butter chicken (pictured) is always a winner. Chicken masala is a wonderfully warming curry that’s quick to prepare, or try Al Brown’s chicken curry with potato and eggplant. For a tomato-based curry without too much creaminess, Nadia Lim’s Fijian chicken curry uses plantain and eggplant. Angela Casley cooks her chicken and potato curry with bones in for added flavour. And every good Indian restaurant has a version of a saag - Nadia Lim cooks her chicken saagwala with a mountain of spinach.
A vegetarian's delight
Indian cuisine offers more vegetarian meals than most, and because of the complex myriad of spices and herbs used, it's also one of the tastiest. Here’s our pick of vegetarian meals that are packed full of flavour, as well as fibre and nutrients from the lentils. Go to ourVegetarian Indian collection for more.
Rice is to the curry like potato is to the roast; it acts as the perfect carbohydrate carrier for main dish. Ray McVinnie shows us how to cook wonderfully fluffy white rice – basmati rice is the recommended variety to go with Indian cooking, although a long grain white rice will do the trick as well.
Tasty side dishes
Take a look at these Indian-inspired vegetable dishes to serve as a side to the main event.
- Masala baked potatoes
- Indian-style cabbage
- Turmeric cauliflower with split peas and yoghurt
- Kumara and cauli aloo gobi
Indian bread served with the meal is the best way to mop up any remaining gravy. It's a real pleasure making your own roti, and it's easy once you know how. Naan bread is a leavened flatbread that is usually cooked in a tandoor oven, otherwise grilled in the oven or over an open flame. An easier option is making chapati, the unleavened alternative.
Complement with a condiment
Chutneys add an extra touch of sweetness or spiciness to balance the flavours of the meal.
- Coconut, mango and yoghurt chutney (pictured)
- Brinjal chutney
- Fresh mint and coriander chutney
- Tamarind and date chutney
- Indian-spiced tamarillo chutney
Take the flavours to another dimension by adding a zesty lime pickle to the mix.
When the dish is a little too hot to handle, take the taste buds and digestive system down the heat Richter with one of these cooling sides dishes - Gordon Ramsay's pomegranate and mint raita (pictured below), Chucumber and Peanut and cucumber salad
On a sweet note
End the feast with one of these Indian-inspired desserts. Aaron Brunet uses only four ingredients – frozen banana and mango, yoghurt and cardamom - in his super quick and easy lassi ice cream (pictured below). Nothing is more Indian than chai, and this chai ice cream incorporating star anise, cinnamon, clove and cardamom along with Earl Grey tea, is a lovely way to finish a meal. Peter Gordon’s vattalapam is a coconut milk-based custard with mixed spice, palm sugar and ground cardamom, which he describes as a wonderful dessert that’s like a dairy-free cashew nut crème caramel. If you’re a fan of rice pudding, then kheer will be a favourite – basmati rice is slow-cooked with cashews, almond and pistachio and spiced with that ever-popular dessert spice of cardamom.
Lastly, the lassi
This collection wouldn't be a complete without a reference to lassi. As far as sweet Indian things go, the lassi has shone through as a crowd favourite, for its simplicity and deliciously sweet tropical flavours thanks to ripe mangoes. Try Nadia Lim's mango lassi, made with cashew nuts that give a subtle nutty taste and creamy texture.
Indian recipes galore
You'll never run out of ideas for an Indian feast, or a week of dinners, with these recipes collections.