The tandoori and vindaloo at your local Indian restaurant represent only a tiny portion of the country’s rich culinary tradition. From fiery stews to cooling yogurt drinks, we’ve collected 46 of our favorite regional Indian recipes.
As a Hindu-majority country, India has a long history of vegetarian cooking. Rice, lentils, and greens are the staple foods of much of the country. Our lime rice is a refreshing side to pair with any dish. Shredded cabbage can also be paired with lime for a great alternative to coleslaw. Want lentils instead of rice? Look to our creamy dal spiked with sour green mango. Saag paneer, stewed spinach and fresh cheese, can be found on any Indian menu in America. We’ve got that recipe, but if you want to branch out from that traditional Indian recipe, try mixing paneer with peas, tomatoes, and fenugreek greens. Meat does show up in Indian cooking, particular amongst the country’s Muslim population. Butter chicken, another classic of Indian-American menus, is great when loaded with ginger and garam masala. Chettinad pepper chicken might be less familiar to you—it’s a Chennai staple of chicken flavored with fennel seeds, curry leaves, and urad dal, the skinned split black lentils that are a popular ingredient in southern India.
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Below, check the list of our 46 favorite regional Indian recipes.
This recipe, from Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of India, is part of SAVEUR’s November 2017 cookbook club. Though we’ve tested this recipe in the SAVEUR test kitchen, we present it in its original, unedited form from the book. Get the recipe for Stuffed Okra »
Unniyappam, fried pastries made as an offering at many South Indian Hindu temples, are made with rice flour bound with bananas and jaggery.
Unlike some other staple Indian breads, which are unleavened and crafted from durum wheat flour, or atta, fluffy naan is made with all-purpose flour and yeast. Traditionally, the dough is slapped against the chimney wall of a clay tandoor oven and baked over wood fires, but many home cooks make it on the stovetop.
Fried fish seasoned with turmeric and chile powder is a popular dish on India’s Malabar Coast. While small bullseye fish or sardines are traditionally used, salmon, shrimp, or snapper, as we’ve used here, also work. Get the recipe for Malabar Fish Fry »
Throughout India, creamy, chilled lassis are the go-to beverage for cooling off during the warmer months. To make them, milk or water-thinned yogurt is blended with ingredients such as strawberries or—as in this recipe—ripe mangoes, resulting in a refreshing drink that’s as thick as a milkshake. Get the recipe for Mango Lassi »