25 Popular Indian Dishes You Should Try At Least Once
As a result of the blend of flavor and spices, Indian food has recently become one of the most popular cuisines throughout the world. Indian food is extremely versatile, allowing amazing non-vegetarian, vegetarian as well as vegan options.
Even though most of you might dismiss Indian food because of its spice, we would recommend that you at least try the dishes because it is highly likely that you'll change your mind afterward. The following are 25 Indian dishes you must try at least once:
1. Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala was recently declared the national food of England despite being an Indian dish. This should tell you all you need to know about this food. Chicken tikka masala has the perfect blend of spices with grilled chicken and thick tomato gravy.
The chicken is charred, but tender from the overnight marinate while the gravy is thick and flavorful. This goes great with butter naan or white rice. This recipe is also healthy and will fill up your entire family.
2. Rogan Josh
The second dish on this list is something that is extremely popular in India, but the rest of the world hasn't really picked up on it yet. Rogan Josh is a lamb curry made with an assortment of spices and tender lamb meat cooked in a tangy tomato curry.
The dish originated from the northern parts of India, Kashmir, and uses quite a lot of spices. The cinnamon and cardamon with garlic and ginger will make this dish an instant favorite. You can moderate the amount of red chili added to this dish.
You must be living under a rock if you've never heard of naan or paratha. Naan is one of the favorite types of bread of many Americans. What makes it even more exciting is that there are many variations of this food, like butter naan and garlic naan.
A paratha is similar to a naan but is often stuffed with potatoes, lentils, spinach or even minced meat. This type of bread will pair well with Indian curries, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
4. Palak Paneer
Palak Paneer is a vegetarian dish made with cottage cheese slow-cooked in a spinach curry. The cheese is cut into cubes and pan-fried to add a crispiness on top and softness on the inside.
This is a great way of introducing greens into your diet by cooking them in a spice mix and aromatic herbs. Many Indians fondly remember this dish from their childhood.
5. Dal Makhani
Dal Makhani is another vegetarian dish on this list that is a slightly modern version of a traditional lentil dish. It is made with urad dal, kidney beans and additional lentils cooked in a tomato curry and topped with butter and cream.
You can replace the butter and cream if you want a vegan option. Dal Makhani is a quick and easy recipe often eaten with white rice or naan. It is nutritious, filling, and fairly easy to make.
6. Tandoori Chicken
Let's get back to the meats, shall we? Tandoori chicken is a low-fat chicken dish marinated in yogurt and spices and traditionally roasted in a clay oven called tandoor.
Skinless thighs and legs of the chicken are severed and marinated in yogurt and spice mix with a hint of lemon. It is then slow-cooked in a tandoor to obtain charred edges and soft chicken meat. Make a mint chutney and a few slices of lemon to go with this.
Biryani is a spiced rice recipe that originated from Muslims in South Asia. This dish can be made with chicken, pork, lamb, or just potatoes. There are different variations of biryani in different parts of India identified by the specific spice mix.
The dish is prepared with Basmati rice spiced with cloves, cardamoms, peppercorns, cumin, star anise, coriander, fennel, dried rose petals, saffron, and many other spices. It is often eaten with Raita, a yogurt side dish.
8. Butter Chicken
Murg Makhani or Butter Chicken is a simple dish that can be made in a single pan with the spices you have lying around in your home. The dish is rich due to the cream and spicy from mixed spices.
It is the ultimate comfort food that can be prepared in just 20 minutes and will serve your entire family. Pair this with either rice or rotis for a delightful dinner.
9. Goan Fish Curry
As the first fish recipe on the list, we chose Goan fish curry because it is rich, tangy and flavorful. This recipe can be prepared in just 30 minutes with only a handful of ingredients.
Goan fish curry originated in the coastal areas of the country and is made with locally resourced ingredients like coconut milk, tamarind, mustard seeds and fresh veggies. The richness of the coconut milk is cut by the tangy tamarind flavor to make it a balanced affair.
10. Gulab Jamun
This is a dessert dish from India made with fried milk dough drenched in sugar syrup. It is soft, spongy, and sweet and will pair well as a dessert after a heavy Indian meal.
The sugar syrup is spiced with cardamon, but the sweetness can be adjusted if you don't really have a sweet tooth. For the rest of us, it is a gift wrapped in sugar and spice.
11. Aloo Gobi
A classic vegetarian Indian dish made with cauliflower (gobi) and potatoes (aloo), Aloo Gobi is cooked in tomato and onion masala. This is staple in many households throughout the country.
This is flavorful, creamy, crunchy, and delightful when eaten with rice or roti. It is extremely easy to make, healthy, and super comforting. Aloo Gobi is a great way of introducing veggies into your dinner that your kids will definitely enjoy.
12. Pork Vindaloo
Inspired by a Portuguese recipe, this Goan dish is spicy but with has other flavors that work together to create a symphony. Chunks of pork loin is cooked until tender in a red chile and vinegar sauce.
Instead of using a store-bought chili paste, make your own at home with dried red chilis, garlic, ginger, and tamarind. Traditional vindaloo is cooked on a stove top, but it can be made easier by transferring it to a slow cooker for that tender pork meat.
13. Brinjal Bhaji
A vegetarian curry side dish often served in Indian restaurants, Brinjal bhaji or aubergine curry is creamy and flavorful. Aubergine is cooked with tomatoes, onions, curry leaves and a set of traditional Indian spices. You won't even believe you're eating a vegetarian curry because it is so flavorful.
14. Chana Masala
Chana Masala is a flavorful gluten-free, and vegan recipe made with soaked chickpeas cooked in a classic tomato curry. The chickpeas become tender from the cook with caramelized onion and tomato sauce.
The aromatics from coriander, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves make it fresh while the spices work together for a symphony of flavors.
15. Malabar Fish Curry
Malabar fish curry is a traditional curry recipe from the Malabar region of Kerala. The seer fish is cooked in creamy coconut milk with mustard seed, tomatoes, ginger and curry leaves.
Add the curry to your rice, or pick the tender fish with your roti for a delectable bite. It is perfect for a hot summer evening to spend with your family while enjoying a comforting and healthy meal.
What is great about Samosa is that it is easy, tasty, and versatile. Traditionally, it is a stuffed pastry often filled with vegetarian filling like boiled potatoes, onion and peas; however, it can be easily modified by adding minced meat.
It is a perfect tea-time snack prepared for guests or as a dish to be enjoyed on a rainy evening. The outside of a Samosa is crispy and flaky, whereas the inside is soft and tender which complements the flavor and texture palette.
17. Chettinad Chicken
Another chicken curry recipe on this list is the classic from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. It is the most popular chicken curry in the Southern region of India, made with Chettinad marinate consisting of onions, coconut, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, and tomatoes.
This dish is an instant pot or pressure cooker recipe where the meat becomes tender but flavorful from the long cook. It takes fairly long to cook, but the flavors are worth the wait.
18. Masala Dosa and Sambar
A masala dosa is the ultimate comfort food and a traditional dish of South India. This dish can be eaten as a snack, a street food classic or as a healthy breakfast for your entire family.
We confess that the batter might not be the easiest to make as it has to be the correct consistency but the dish is complemented by the crispy outside and soft, flavorful filling inside. The dosa is eaten with a thick lentil-based vegetable soup called Sambar so it is healthy and filling.
19. Ras Malai
The next dish is another popular dessert recipe in different parts of the country. It is rich and moderately sweet so if you like your dessert less sweet, this one might be the one for you.
The recipe calls for milk, cottage cheese and spices like cardamon and cinnamon. A dough is prepared with the cottage cheese to create balls which can be then soaked in thickened milk spices with cardamom and saffron.
20. Bengali Coconut Prawn Curry
Bengali Coconut Prawn Curry, also called Chingri Malai Curry, is a Bengali curry recipe rich in coconut milk and assorted spices. The coconut milk and spices make for a thick curry on which rest the sauteed prawns.
Prawns are not a common protein available in Indian dishes; however, it is more popular in the coastal regions. This dish is gluten-free and keto-free so will work well with those diets as well.
21. Keralan Pandi
Keralan Pandi is a South Indian pork curry recipe made with turmeric, coconut milk and fennel seeds. It is a quick recipe made with green beans for an additional crunch.
The curry is made with classic Indian ingredients like caramelized onions, diced tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste. What sets this dish apart is the tender pork meat cooked in rich coconut milk. You can have it on its own or pair it will tortillas and rice.
The most commonly eaten street food in India is chaat. There are many variations of this savory snack, typically made with the same set of ingredients. This is the perfect appetizer for your meal with friends and family.
There are a few common ingredients that can be found in all chaats, like crispy puffed rice, raw onions, and tomatoes, a sweet/spicy and tangy chutney, heaps of chaat masala, sweet yogurt, and a crispy topping of fried potatoes or sev.
23. Lamb Pasanda
A slow-cooked Lamb Pasanda is a delightful North Indian curry recipe with slow-cooked lamb in a rich spicy paste. With a cooking time of about 3 hours, all the effort put into it is totally worth it.
The lamb is first stir-fried for a char followed by a gentle simmer for about 2 hours with the classic Pasanda marinade and some water. Cook this until the lamb is fall-off-the-bone tender. Serve hot with thick soup on its own or with rice and naan.
Pakora is a type of Indian snack similar to a chaat in that it is mostly sold by street vender or made at home as a tea-time snack. A classic pakora is a fritter made with veggies like onions, potatoes, spinach, lentils or cabbages.
The vegetables are coated in seasoned gram flour and deep-fried to make perfect bite-sized snacks. It is often eaten with a sweet and spicy chutney and a hot cup of chai on a rainy evening.
25. Indian-Style Seekh Kebab
Kebabs are originally from the Middle East, especially popular in Turkey and Iran. However, this dish has been modified with Indian spices and preparations for a unique taste.
Indian seekh kebabs are made with minced lamb meat seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices. Finely chopped onions, mint, cilantro add a crispiness of the dish while also keeping the meat juicy and flavorful.
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