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Drop the takeout menu. Cooking an Indian meal from scratch may not be quick or easy, but the point isn’t merely getting dinner on the table—it’s also about exploring some of the world’s most eclectic culinary traditions. 

The Indian subcontinent is the epicenter of the global spice trade—which is, in large part, why its vibrant fare is so widely revered.  

Indian expats serve versions of their homeland’s cuisine wherever they may land, and regional adaptations abound—from the saucy, starchy comfort of Durban, South Africa’s bunny chow to the U.K.’s beloved carryout curries. 

This global reach is an elegant reflection of an inarguable truth: India—and its cuisine—is by no means a monolith. The South Asian nation boasts over 100 different languages and comparable culinary diversity. 

In and around Mumbai, Parsis (the descendants of pre-Arabian Persians) enjoy an array of grilled meats, fresh cucumber salads, fruit-based stews, and milky desserts that speak to the population’s Middle Eastern roots, while in the coastal state of Goa, once a Portuguese colony, vinegar-based curries and European-style yeasted breads persist. Along the coasts, you’re apt to find fragrant, coconut-laced fish dishes, while the wheat noodles and dumplings popular in the northeastern state of Sikkim are similar to those of neighboring China and Bhutan. (Meanwhile, further south, rice is king.) 

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite regional Indian recipes for you to try at home.

Karela Ma Kheemo (Parsi-Style Bitter Gourd with Ground Chicken)

Bitter gourd with ground chicken (Karela Ma Kheemo)
Fatima Khawaja

A quick and soothing Indian dish with a bracing bitter bite. Get the recipe for Karela Ma Kheemo (Parsi-Style Bitter Gourd with Ground Chicken) »

Bhaji Dana (Parsi-Style Fenugreek Leaves with Peas)

Indian fenugreek leaves and green peas (Bhaji Dana)
Fatima Khawaja

Bitter greens are an elegant foil to the sweetness of onions and green peas. Get the recipe for Bhaji Dana (Parsi-Style Fenugreek Leaves with Peas) »

Grilled Chicken Tikka Kebabs

Grilled Chicken Tikka Kebabs
Thomas Payne

A spiced yogurt marinade works wonders with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken Tikka Kebabs »

Paneer Tikka Kebabs

Paneer Tikka Kebabs
Thomas Payne

Charred bell peppers and onions help balance out the richness of the paneer in these colorful vegetarian skewers. Get the recipe for Paneer Tikka Kebabs »

Vegetarian Samosas with Potatoes and Peas

Vegetarian Samosas with Potatoes and Peas
Katherine Whittaker

Starchy potatoes and sweet peas, fragrant with plenty of spice and ginger, get a kick from fiery green chiles in these crispy vegetarian samosas. Get the recipe for Vegetarian Samosas with Potatoes and Peas »

Spicy Mint, Cilantro, and Chia Seed Chutney

Mint Chutney
Matt Taylor-Gross

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 »

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa
Hannah Whitaker

A masala dosa feast includes turmeric-tinged potato sabzi, rich gun­powder chile paste, and crisp, airy wrappers. Get the recipe for Masala Dosa »

Chicken Tikka Masala

bowl of chicken tikka masala with rice and yogurt
Matt Taylor-Gross

Our version of the classic is lighter, fresher, and brighter than what you’ll get at most restaurants. Get the recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala »

Mutton Bunny Chow

mutton chow
Crookes & Jackson

Bunny chow, a hollowed out bread bowl with a spicy, curried mutton filling, is as delightfully messy as it sounds. Get the recipe for Mutton Bunny Chow »

Indian Leavened Flatbread (Naan)

indian naan bread with clarified butter
Ingalls Photography

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 it’s also easily cooked on the stovetop. Get the recipe for Indian Leavened Flatbread (Naan) »

Saag Paneer (Spinach with Fresh Cheese)

Saag Paneer (Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese)
Jenny Huang | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang

It’s not hard to love North Indian saag paneer—meltingly soft spinach strewn with chunks of mild fresh cheese—especially when scooped up with hot flatbread. Get the recipe for Saag Paneer (Spinach with Fresh Cheese) »

Goan Cod Curry

Goan Cod Curry
Farideh Sadeghin

Goa, located on the west coast of India, has a regional cuisine known for seafood and coconut milk. But there’s another ingredient in the Goan pantry that calls back to its Portuguese colonial roots: vinegar. That’s what gives the slight tang to this easy fish stew. Get the recipe for Goan Cod Curry »

Grilled Swordfish Kebabs (Machli Kebabs)

Grilled Swordfish Kebabs (Machli Kebabs)
Thomas Payne

Garnishing with fresh dill, ground sumac, and a drizzle of olive oil turns up the volume on these flame-kissed fish skewers. Get the recipe for Grilled Swordfish Kebabs (Machli Kebabs) »

Grilled Corn Bhel

Grilled Corn Bhel
Thomas Payne

In this lively salad, flame-kissed corn kernels are teamed with fresh vegetables, a zesty cumin-lime dressing, and for a surprisingly delicious crunch, unsweetened corn flakes. Get the recipe for Grilled Corn Bhel »

Solkadi (Indian Kokum and Coconut Drink)

Solkadi (Indian Kokum and Coconut Drink)
Jasmine P. Ting

At the base of the flavor of solkadi is the tart kokum fruit, a member of the mangosteen family that grows on the western coast of Maharashtra. Its purple pelt is peeled away from its flesh, soaked in the fruit’s juice, then salted and dried in the sun. This solam (dried peel) then soaks in a glass of water, staining it a pale pink. Get the recipe for Solkadi (Indian Kokum and Coconut Drink) »

Red Lentils with Green Mango (Malika Masoor Dal)

Red Lentils with Green Mango (Malika Masoor Dal)
Ingalls Photography

In early spring, green, unripe mangoes are a featured ingredient on the daily menu at Raja Sulaiman Khan’s home in Lucknow, India. Here, amchoor—dried green mango—adds pungent sourness to creamy lentils. Get the recipe for Red Lentils with Green Mango (Malika Masoor Dal) »

Aloo Masala (South Indian Potatoes)

Aloo Masala (South Indian Potatoes)
Ingalls Photography

These flavorful mashed potatoes are perfumed with mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves, turmeric, and ginger. Get the recipe for Aloo Masala (South Indian Potatoes) »

Chicken and Prawn Curry

chicken prawn curry
Crookes & Jackson

This intensely spicy curry from chef Kevin Joseph of Durban’s Oyster Box hotel gets its heat not from chiles, but from a pastes of fresh garlic, ginger, onions, and dried curry powder. Though not cooked long, the sauce is rich and thick thanks to heaps of ground spices and unsweetened coconut cream. Get the recipe for Chicken and Prawn Curry »

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)
Ingalls Photography

For these simple, bite-sized Bengali confections, milk is turned into homemade cheese, then combined with sugar and cardamom to yield a dense and fudgy treat. Get the recipe for Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh) »

Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer)

Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer)
Ingalls Photography

This creamy dish from Toronto-based Indian cookbook author Smita Chandra is made with the fresh paneer, peas, whole peeled tomatoes, and plenty of tangy fresh fenugreek greens. Get the recipe for Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer) »

Telangana-Style Curried Chicken Stew

Telangana-Style Curried Chicken Stew
Ingalls Photography

Carved out of ten former districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana officially became India’s 29th state in June 2014. For this regional dish, home cook Padma Reddy removes the chicken skin to allow the flavors of the marinade—coconut, lime, garlic, ginger, cardamom, mace, and more—to fully penetrate. Get the recipe for Telangana-Style Curried Chicken Stew »

Thalassery-Style Fish Curry (Thalassert Meen Curry)

Thalassery-Style Fish Curry (Thalassery Meen Curry)
James Oseland

Any firm fish will work in this green mango-infused South Indian curry, named for the Keralan coastal city of Thalassery. Get the recipe for Thalassery-Style Fish Curry (Thalassert Meen Curry) »

Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa)

Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa)
Ingalls Photography

Studded with chopped nuts and flavored with aromatic cardamom and rose water, this sweet pudding is made from a blend of nutty ghee, milk, cream, sugar, and grated carrot. It’s equally good served either hot or cold. Get the recipe for Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa) »

Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)

Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)
Matt Taylor-Gross

A hint of rosewater adds its sweet, floral aroma to this moist and tender coconut-semolina cake. Get the recipe for Goan Coconut Cake (Baath) »

Papaya Thoran (Keralan-Style Stir-Fried Green Papaya)

papaya stir-fry
James Oseland

When writer VK Sreelesh visits his in-laws’ house in Kerala, papaya thoran is almost always on the table. Thoran is usually a dried dish that is mixed and eaten with rice; its ingredients can range from cabbage to beans to carrots to beets. For this green papaya version, the minced fruit is first steamed and then mixed with a robust chile-coconut paste, then seasoned with cumin, garlic, and turmeric. Get the recipe for Papaya Thoran (Keralan-Style Fried Green Papaya) »

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo
Landon Nordeman

This tart Goan curry has roots in vinh d’alho, a stew brought to the region by Portuguese colonists. Now a restaurant staple, vindaloo comes in countless variations—some fiery, some mild—from the subcontinent to the British Isles. Get the recipe for Chicken Vindaloo »

Cilantro Yogurt Chutney

Cilantro Yogurt Chutney
Ingalls Photography

This creamy yogurt-based chutney is made with cilantro, lime, and fresh green chiles. Get the recipe for Cilantro Yogurt Chutney »

South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar)

South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar)
James Oseland

Cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey describes sambar as “a split-pea stew which is varied daily with the addition of, say, caramelized shallots or tomatoes or okra or aubergine (eggplant) poached in tamarind juice.” Get the recipe for South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar) »

Smita Chandra’s Daikon Curry

Smita Chandra's Daikon Curry
Ingalls Photography

Daikon—a type of large white radish with a peppery, earthy flavor—has long been a staple of Indian cooking. In this simple vegetarian curry dish from cookbook author Smita Chandra, the root is enhanced with an aromatic blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices. Get the recipe for Smita Chandra’s Daikon Curry »

Spiced Dal with Peanuts and Dill

Spiced Dal with Peanuts and Dill
Matt Taylor-Gross

Dill adds a fresh flavor to this Maharashtrian-style dal. Get the recipe for Spiced Dal with Peanuts and Dill »

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)
Todd Coleman

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) »

Bengali-Style Fish Stew (Maacher Jhol)

Bengali-Style Fish Stew (Maacher Jhol)
Ingalls Photography

No Bengali meal is complete without maacher jhol, fish simmered in a tomato-based curry scented with mustard oil and the region’s distinctive mix of five spices: toasted fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard, and fennel seeds. Get the recipe for Bengali-Style Fish Stew (Maacher Jhol) »

Indian Fish and Potato Tikkis

Fish and Potato Tikkis with Chile and Lime
Matt Taylor-Gross

A simple Indian croquette with fish, bold hits of cumin and green chile, and a refreshing mint chutney. Get the recipe for Indian Fish and Potato Tikkis »

Indian Layered Flatbread (Paratha)

Indian Layered Flatbread (Paratha)
Ingalls Photography

The paratha’s signature layers are made by rolling and folding the dough in a triangle. Get the recipe for Indian Layered Flatbread (Paratha) »

Spicy Cabbage-and-Potato Curry (Bund Gobhi Aur Aloo Ki Subzi)

Spicy Cabbage-and-Potato Curry (Bund Gobhi Aur Aloo Ki Subzi)
James Roper

This vibrant Indian curry comes from the Meghwal tribe of Gujarat’s Thar Desert. Get the recipe for Spicy Cabbage-and-Potato Curry (Bund Gobhi Aur Aloo Ki Subzi) »

Hot Mix (Indian Spiced Snack Mix)

Hot Mix (Indian Spiced Snack Mix)
Ingalls Photography

There are countless varieties of this ubiquitous Indian snack mix, made with varying combinations of nuts, fruit, spices, and other ingredients. Cookbook author Smita Chandra’s version of the satisfying nibble is the best we’ve had, with four kinds of nuts (cashew, peanut, almond, pistachio), plus sweet raisins, nutty coconut, and poha, dried flattened rice flakes. Get the recipe for Hot Mix (Indian Spiced Snack Mix) »

Red Chutney

Red Chutney
Ingalls Photography

This five-ingredient Indian condiment from home cook Yamini Joshi is a snap to make, thanks to flavor-packed tamarind paste and the spice blend sambar masala. Get the recipe for Red Chutney »

Hyderabadi-Style Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo aur Gosht ka Kaliya )

Hyderabadi-Style Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo aur Gosht ka Kaliya )
Ingalls Photography

In the Indian city of Hyderabad, this dish is traditionally made using goat, but lamb makes an excellent substitute. Get the recipe for Hyderabadi-Style Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo aur Gosht ka Kaliya) »

Indian Lime Rice

Indian Curd Rice
Ingalls Photography

In this zesty side dish, fried chana dal adds an earthy crunch to long-grained rice, which is delicious alongside rich vegetable curries. Get the recipe for Indian Lime Rice »

Rajasthani White Chicken Curry

Rajasthani White Chicken Curry (Safed Maans)
James Roper

A seasoned coconut chicken curry is tempered with yogurt. Get the recipe for Rajasthani White Chicken Curry »

Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs with Oven-Dried Tomatoes (Zoomru Tool and Ruwangan Hach)

Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs with Oven-Dried Tomatoes (Zoomru Tool and Ruwangan Hach)
Ariana Lindquist

Hard-cooked eggs get a golden sheen from bright mustard oil in this rich and spicy tomato dish. Get the recipe for Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs with Oven-Dried Tomatoes (Zoomru Tool and Ruwangan Hach) »

Hyderabadi-Style Lentil Stew (Khatti Dal)

Hyderabadi-Style Lentil Stew (Khatti Dal)
Ingalls Photography

Madhur Jaffrey experienced a version of this tarka—a combination of fried spices and aromatics stirred into a soupy dal—while visiting the South Indian city of Hyderabad. Get the recipe for Hyderabadi-Style Lentil Stew (Khatti Dal) »

Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala)

Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala)
Ingalls Photography

This richly spiced chicken dish is adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s classic cookbook, Flavors of India. “What gives this a very special southern flavor is the use of fennel seeds, curry leaves, and, of course, the pulse (legume) urad dal,” she explains. “This is definitely a dish you will want to make very frequently.” Get the recipe for Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala) »

Gulab Jamun (Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts)

Gulab Jamun cardamom syrup-soaked Indian donuts
Todd Coleman

Khoya, a rich curd made by reducing milk for several hours, forms the base for these syrup-soaked confections. Get the recipe for Gulab Jamun (Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts) »

Indian Vada Pav is the Ultimate Veggie Burger

Indian Vada Pav is the Ultimate Veggie Burger
Matt Taylor-Gross

This spiced potato patty atop a fluffy bun is one of India’s best-loved street foods. Get the recipe for Indian Vada Pav is the Ultimate Veggie Burger »

Madhur Jaffrey’s Secrets to Perfect, Paper-Thin Parathas

Madhur Jaffrey's Secrets to Perfect, Paper-Thin Parathas
Matt Taylor-Gross

The simplest paratha method is a series of simple folds. Get the recipe for Madhur Jaffrey’s Secrets to Perfect, Paper-Thin Parathas »

Romy Gill’s Special Chicken with Whole Spices and Turmeric-Ginger-Garlic Sauce

Romy’s Special Chicken with Whole Spices and Turmeric-Ginger-Garlic Sauce
Pascale Grise

A generous helping of pureed ginger, garlic, and fresh turmeric, along with a sprinkling of toasted whole Indian 5-spice (panch phoron) adds color and fragrance to quick braised chicken legs. Get the recipe for Romy’s Special Chicken with Whole Spices and Turmeric-Ginger-Garlic Sauce »

Pistachio Ice Cream

httpswww.saveur.comsitessaveur.comfilesimport2013images2010-01126-pistachio-ice-cr400.jpg
André Baranowski

Sweetened whole milk flavored with crushed cardamom, saffron, and pistachio is frozen in molds to create these impressive, sculptural desserts. Get the recipe for Pistachio Ice Cream »

Roti (Indian Whole Wheat Flatbread)

Roti (Indian Whole Wheat Flatbread)
Matt Taylor-Gross

Try your hand at this classic Indian flatbread. Get the recipe for Roti (Indian Whole Wheat Flatbread) »

Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha

Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha
Matt Taylor-Gross

The late Floyd Cardoz’s riff on a traditional stuffed flatbread. Get the recipe for Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha »

Pork Vindaloo

Pork Vindaloo
Thomas Payne

A dozen cloves of garlic and a touch of crushed red-pepper flakes give this succulent pork stew just the right amount of heat. Get the recipe for Pork Vindaloo »

Hyderabadi-Style Steamed Chicken and Rice (Kachi Yakhni Biryani)

httpswww.saveur.comsitessaveur.comfilesimport2014recipe_hyderabadi-biryani_800x1200.jpg
Ingalls Photography

Biryani is a classic combination of rice, meat and spices. Writer Sarah Khan, whose family hails from the south Indian city of Hyderabad, describes it as “a gossamer cloud of rice that, depending on the corner of the subcontinent you’re on, might be layered with mutton, shrimp, eggplant, cardamom, saffron, potatoes, or even pineapple.” For this recipe, marinated chicken is layered with partially cooked rice and then steamed; whole spices penetrate the chicken as it cooks. Get the recipe for Kachi Yakhni Biryani (Hyderabadi-Style Steamed Chicken and Rice) »

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