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 comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s
A Taste of India, 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 Roasted Moong Dal with Spinach »
This potato curry recipe uses yogurt for a sauce, thickened with chickpea flour. Get the recipe for
Potatoes and Peas in Yogurt Sauce
This offering made to a Hindu deity is seasoned with jaggery (unrefined palm sugar) and coconut. Get the recipe for
Indian Sweet Coconut Porridge (Pongala)
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.
Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)
Indian Fried Banana Cakes (Mangalore Buns)
Get the recipe for Roti Laddu »
Get the recipe for Dal Dhokli Roti »
Get the recipe for Steamed Cardamom-Spiced Rice Flour Balls (Mandaputtu) »
For this recipe, skinless salmon filets are cooked in a spice-filled mustard sauce.
Ground beef is stuffed with a spiced onion mixture and then fried until crisp and savory in this favorite street food of Muslim Indians.
Get the recipe for Spiced Ground Beef Patties (Shami Kebabs) »
Among the most beloved dishes in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is the pesarattu, a savory pancake made with a batter of whole mung beans.
Get the recipe for Indian Whole Mung Bean Pancakes (Pesarattu) »
This dish is made with fresh Indian cheese called paneer, peas, and whole peeled tomatoes, along with plenty of tangy fresh fenugreek greens.
Get the recipe for Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer) »
Flavored with sweet plum tomatoes and aromatic spices, this rice dish is perfect alongside roast chicken.
Get the recipe for Indian Tomato Rice »
In this version of biryani from Hyderabad, hrice and meat mingle, cooking together in one pot, the ghee steaming, to create the harmonious version of the dish known as kachchi biryani.
Get the recipe for Hyderabadi-Style Steamed Chicken and Rice (Kachi Yakhni Biryani) »
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.
Make It: Goanese Pork Vindaloo
In this Anglo-Indian recipe mussels are cooked with tomatoes in a richly spiced coconut broth.
Get the recipe for Malabar Mussels »
Tender lamb simmers in a fiery sauce in this Kashmiri dish.
Get the recipe for Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce (Mirchi Qorma) »
A signature dish of the South Indian city of Chennai, this spicy chicken recipe is flavored with fennel seeds, curry leaves, and urad dal, the skinned split black lentils that are a popular ingredient in southern India.
Get the recipe for Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala) »
This dish of fresh spinach sautéed with an array of spices is typical of Andhra Pradesh.
Get the recipe for Andhra-Style Sautéed Spinach (Palakoora Vepadu) »
Dried green mango adds sour pungency to this creamy lentil dish.
For these simple bite-size confections from Bengal, milk is turned into homemade paneer cheese and then combined with sugar and cardamom to yield a dense, fudge-like treat.
Get the recipe for Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh) »
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 »
Yogurt tempers the heat of this coconut chicken curry, a variation on a classic lamb dish from the state of Rajasthan in western India.
Get the recipe for Rajasthani White Chicken Curry (Safed Maans) »
Crispy chickpea-battered vegetable fritters are a popular street-food snack throughout India. This recipe calls for potatoes and onion, but cauliflower florets, eggplant slices, or plantains can also be used.
Get the recipe for Indian Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras) »
This creamy yogurt-based chutney is made with cilantro, lime, and fresh green chiles.
Get the recipe for Cilantro Yogurt Chutney »
Often served in south India as thevasam, or memorial food, this curry is flavored with a simple combination of sesame seeds and black peppercorns.
Get the recipe for Plantain with Sesame Seeds and Peppercorns (Yellu Molaghu Vazhaipazham) »
In this earthy legume stew, chickpea flour serves as a thickener and adds a nutty undertone.
This classic savory snack is terrific paired with sweet and tart tamarind chutney.
Pistachios, cardamom seeds, and saffron are mixed into yogurt to make this cool and creamy dessert.
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 »
This bubbly limeade gets a spicy kick from a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper. With its lip-smacking tang, it’s the perfect refresher to combat the summer heat.
Get the recipe for Lime Juice with Seltzer, Black Pepper, and Sugar (Nimbu Pani) »
This lassi is made with Rooh Afza, a rose-scented syrup made with botanicals and sugar.
Get the recipe for Hyderabadi-Style Sweet Lassi »
Cardamom gives this Indian drink a bright, piney sweetness tempered by a creamy base of evaporated milk and black tea.
Get the recipe for Spiced Tea (Masala Chai) »
This thirst-quenching north Indian drink is made by boiling unripe mangoes until tender and blending them with sweet jaggery, pungent black salt, asafoetida, and other spices.
Get the recipe for Spiced Mango Drink (Aam Panna) »
Sour tamarind is tempered with vibrant cumin and sweet jaggery sugar in this refreshing drink.
Get the recipe for Tamarind and Cumin Drink (Imli Ka Pani) »
Orchata (Indian Almond and Rosewater Drink)
Solkadi (Indian Kokum and Coconut Drink)
Panagam (Indian Ginger and Lime Drink)
Enriched with layers of ghee between the dough, this Indian flatbread takes on a layered, flaky texture. Get the recipe for
Paratha (Flaky Indian Flatbread)
Get the recipe for Basic Roti »
The addition of chia seeds in this chutney thickens the juices and emulsifies the mixture into a spreadable, smooth sauce that doesn’t separate. If you prefer it milder, remove some of the chile seeds before blending. Use the chutney as a condiment for pakoras, samosas, and tandoori roasted meats.
Get the recipe for Spicy Mint, Cilantro, and Chia Seed Chutney »