It may seem daunting to cook your favorite Indian dishes at home, with the cuisine’s unusual and complex spices. But, if you stock your kitchen with some of the essential ingredients found in Indian cuisine, you can easily prepare these dishes and enjoy that lively, spicy taste any time you want. From tandoori chicken to palak paneer, the recipes are relatively simple. You can even learn to make your own naan, the tasty flatbread ideal for scooping up rice and sauce.
Murg Makhani (Butter Chicken)
Murg Makhani (butter chicken) is one of the top orders at any Indian restaurant in the West and for good reason—it is delicious. This sultry poultry dish tastes great with kaali daal (black lentils), naan, and a green salad.
If you have a well-stocked spice drawer, the only ingredient you may need is kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves). Otherwise, this recipe calls for common ingredients like olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, butter, chicken stock, and tomato puree. The chicken is marinated twice, once in a dry rub and then in a yogurt mixture. This makes the chicken moist and flavorful, adding to the richness of the dish.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t fall in love with tandoori chicken, that famous Indian barbecue chicken recipe. Although traditionally cooked in a clay oven, you can prepare the yogurt-marinated chicken on a grill or in the oven. You do need to plan ahead, as the coated chicken should sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 14 hours.
The signature flavor comes from the tandoor masala, a spice mixture including coriander seeds, ginger, and turmeric to name just a few. You can make your own or use store-bought. Serve tandoori chicken over basmati rice with lemon wedges on the side.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken tikka masala is a delicious grilled chicken dish with a thick, creamy gravy that is unforgettable after the first bite. A tomato-yogurt sauce is spiced with chili, garlic, ginger, and garam masala, the ubiquitous Indian spice blend. The chicken is marinated overnight, grilled, and then gently cooked in a slightly smoky gravy. You will want to serve this dish over basmati rice with warm naan bread for soaking up the sauce.
Rogan Josh (Red Lamb)
The literal translation for Rogan Josh, the name of this dish from Kashmir is “red lamb.” The color comes from Kashmiri dry red chilies. While the name may sound fiery, the heat of the dish is toned down by the cream that is added at the end.
The list of spices called for in this recipe may seem long, but a trip to your local international food market should set you up nicely. Spices such as cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala are often sold in small bulk quantities, so they’ll last for quite a long time.