12 Simple Indian Recipes for Beginners

Indian is one of my favorite cuisines and I just love the food. I have traveled around India and tasted the dishes how they are supposed to be made, because westernized Indian food really isn’t the same at all. I like to make simple Indian recipes for beginners because I just love the flavors but don’t  have all day to cook.

Indian food features all kinds of proteins from pork to chicken, fish, seafood, lamb and eggs, although beef isn’t used much in India, not at all in most places, because the cow is seen as holy in India.

Indian curries are cooked over an open flame traditionally, and include plenty of aromatic spices as well as some kind of oil or fat. Boiled or fried rice is a traditional accompaniment, along with flatbreads such as naan, chapatti or roti, breads which are made from flour or wheat dough and served warm with the main dish.

A salad with tomatoes, onion, cucumber and lemon makes a refreshing side dish and helps cut through the spice in the curry, so a lot of simple Indian recipes include it. Yogurt is also a popular condiment, contrasting with the heat of your entrée. Combine yogurt with grated cucumber, onions, cilantro and a pinch of chili powder to make a raita, similar to Greek tzatziki.

Using Spices in Simple Indian Recipes

A lot of people wrongly assume simple Indian recipes are all about fiery heat and throwing all lots of spice, but that isn’t quite accurate.

Some Indian dishes are only lightly spiced while others aren’t spiced at all. It can be hard to find non-spiced dishes at an Indian restaurant but the good news is you can make your own and choose exactly how spicy (or not) you want it.

The spices used in Indian cookery are available at most grocery stores or, if not, try an Indian or Asian food store. Seriously though, most of what you need for the following simple Indian recipes will be available wherever you usually do your weekly shop.

The most important Indian seasonings would be tomatoes or tomato paste, onions, cumin seeds, ground cumin, garlic, chili powder, ground coriander, turmeric, and ginger. Fresh cilantro is often used as a garnish so you might want to get that too. Some recipes include cilantro in the actual recipe, and that means the leaves and stems too. Other handy to have ingredients are cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and also garam masala, which is a blend of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and you only need a tiny bit to flavor a dish.

Vegetarian Indian Dishes

A lot of Indians are vegetarian and there are plenty of vegetarian dishes to consider in Indian cuisine. Potatoes, greens, pulses, or vegetables are often served as the main dish, and Indians like to use seasonal produce like cabbage or cauliflower in the winter, or okra in the summer.

Cauliflower and Potato Curry
Cauliflower features in many Indian recipes and its distinctive flavor pairs well with potato, which also helps make the curry more filling. This is quite a basic recipe but the flavor is amazing.
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb (450g) cauliflower florets
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cubed, cooked large potato
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ cup (120 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet, then fry the onions, ginger and garlic for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cilantro, cumin and coriander and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the potato, cauliflower, turmeric, chili powder and salt, as well as the water.
  4. Cook on a medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Mix well to ensure the vegetables have blended with the spices.
  6. Take care not to overcook the cauliflower else it will get mushy.
  7. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Photo from Flickr
Mashed Potato and Cabbage Curry
Pairing cabbage and potatoes with cumin, ginger, turmeric, and chili, this simple yet hearty Indian curry is perfect for vegetarians. The flavor is really good and this is an authentic potato and cabbage curry recipe.
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb (450g) shredded cabbage
  • ½ lb (225g) boiled, mashed potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the cumin and ginger for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the cabbage and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes, turmeric, chili powder, and salt.
  4. Cook for another 15 minutes.

Photo from Flickr
Mixed Vegetable Curry
Vegetables pair with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), garlic and ginger, to bring you this filling, satisfying vegetarian curry recipe. You can swap the garbanzo beans for another pulse if you wish.
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 6 quartered small yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 6 cauliflower florets
  • 6 quartered small tomatoes
  • 6 baby potatoes
  • ½ lb (225g) garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the onions, garlic and ginger with the tomatoes and potatoes for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garbanzo beans, cauliflower and salt.
  3. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

Photo from Flickr
Simple Mushroom Curry
What better way to use fresh button mushrooms than rustle up a mushroom curry? This one includes ginger and garlic, as well as potato, turmeric and chili, for a truly authentic Indian flavor.
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • ½ lb (225g) fresh button mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 sliced fresh tomato
  • 1 peeled, cubed, cooked large potato
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 chopped small yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Poached eggs, to serve (optional)
  • Snipped chives and/or cilantro, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet.
  2. Fry the onion, tomato, ginger and garlic paste with the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and mushrooms.
  4. Add some salt and cook for another 5 or minutes until done.
  5. Top with a poached egg if liked.
  6. Consider adding some chives and/or cilantro for a splash of green.

Photo from Flickr

Indian Chicken Recipes

Chicken is a popular meat in simple Indian recipes, especially since beef is not used, at least not in the traditional dishes. Chicken is versatile enough to feature in all kinds of recipes from the mildest to the incredibly spicy, and it goes with pretty much any vegetables, herbs or spices.

Authentic Indian Chicken Curry

Chicken is the star of this dish. Ginger, garlic, chili, and cumin are just some of the exotic spices used to add flavor, while fresh cilantro adds a delicate, aromatic touch. This is one of my favorite simple Indian recipes.

2 lbs (900g) chicken pieces
2 chopped yellow onions
½ cup (120 ml) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 crushed tomato
2 teaspoons ginger paste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
1 tablespoon oil

Heat the oil in a pot.
Fry the onions, garlic and ginger with the cumin and coriander for 5 minutes over a low heat.
Add the chicken, tomato, turmeric, salt, chili, and water.
Cook for 30 minutes over a low-medium heat, keeping the pot covered with a lid.

Traditional Butter Chicken Recipe

Something you will always find on an Indian restaurant menu, butter chicken simply melts in the mouth. Use any type of chicken pieces along with yogurt and fragrant spices. This could become one of your simple Indian recipes.

3 lbs (1.35 kg) chicken drumsticks, breast or thighs
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup sour cream
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
3 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
½ cup (115g) tomato concentrate
4 oz (115g) butter
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon garlic paste
3 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat the oil in a pot.
Fry the cardamom, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and cloves over a low-moderate heat for 1 minute.
Add the chicken and yogurt or buttermilk.
Add the tomato concentrate, sour cream, chili powder, and salt.
Cook over a low-moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, keeping the pot covered.
Stir in the butter before serving.

Indian Fish and Seafood Recipes

Fish and seafood are more popular in some Indian regions than others, and that of course depends how close to a water source (either the sea or a river) they are. The coastal states of Kerala and Bengal are especially famed for their wonderful fish recipes which are usually served over hot boiled rice. These are great simple Indian recipes for beginners.

Simple Indian Fish Curry

You can use any kind of fish for this, perhaps cod, hake, haddock or even catfish. Add onion, tomato and spices, and the result will be a highly flavorful dish which is great over boiled rice.

1 lb (450g) fish filets, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 crushed tomato
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 minced yellow onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 cup (230 ml) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon oil
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet.
Fry the onions, garlic, coriander, cumin, and ginger for 5 minutes.
Stir in the fish, tomato, water, turmeric, salt, and chili.
Cook over a low-moderate heat for 25 minutes.
Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Shrimp Curry Indian Style

Ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili, cumin, coriander, and lemon are used to add zing to this wonderful Indian seafood curry recipe. Use any size shrimp you have but the big ones are especially good.

indian-shrimp-curry

1 lb (450g) peeled, de-veined shrimp
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 minced yellow onion
½ cup (115ml) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 crushed tomato
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet.
Fry the onion, ginger, tomato, cumin, coriander, and garlic for 5 minutes over a low-moderate heat.
Add the turmeric, chili, water, salt, and shrimp.
Cover the skillet and cook over a low-moderate heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with lemon juice then serve garnished with cilantro.

Indian Rice Recipes


Rice is a real Indian staple and there are various ways to prepare it. Rice can be steamed or boiled and served plain (which is nice if you have a highly flavored entrée to serve with it) or you can add spices and other ingredients and make a biryani or other rice-based dish.

Indian Fried Rice

This simple recipe shows you how to prepare standard Indian fried rice. As well as the rice, you will need chili, cumin, turmeric, and mustard seeds. You can serve the rice garnished with cilantro. This is one of the best simple Indian recipes to master because it goes with any protein.

1 1/4 cups (250g) uncooked long-grain rice
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon oil
2 ½ cups (600ml) lukewarm water
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and fry the mustard seeds and cumin for 1 minute.
Add the chili, rice, salt, water, and turmeric.
Cover and cook over a low-moderate heat for 30 minutes.
Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Chicken Pilau Rice

This can be served as a side dish or as a meal in its own right. The rice and chicken are flavored with garlic, chili, turmeric, chili, ginger, and more. This is hearty, warming and very tasty.

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1 1/4 cups (250g) uncooked long grain white rice
1 tablespoon oil
1 finely chopped large tomato
2 finely chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup (115 ml) lukewarm water
1 lb (450g) chicken pieces
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and fry the onion, tomato, garlic, and ginger for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken, chili, turmeric, water, and salt.
Cook over a moderate-high heat for 10 minutes.
Stir in the turmeric, chili powder, salt, water, and rice.
Cook, covered, over a medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.

Indian Salad Recipes

Salads and chunky dips are very popular in Indian cuisine, partly because the weather is so hot and cooling dishes are always welcome, and also because a lot of simple Indian recipes are highly seasoned, so you will want to serve something contrasting, something that offers a cooling touch. Eat a forkful of hot curry then bite into a cool, juicy tomato or some creamy raita, and you will see what I mean. It’s all about a great balance.

Cucumber Raita with Onion

Yogurt blends with onion, cucumber and cilantro to make this creamy dip. It is quick and easy to make and tastes delicious served with any kind of curry, and perhaps some rice too.

1 cup plain yogurt
2 inches (5cm) grated cucumber
1 finely chopped small yellow onion
½ tablespoon cilantro leaves
1 minced garlic clove or pinch of garlic powder (optional)
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, onion, garlic (if using) and cilantro.
Season to taste and serve cold as a salad, condiment or dip for papadums.

Indian Style Potato Salad

One of the best simple Indian recipes for potato salad fans. Fusion food anyone? Peas, cream, chilies, mustard and lime juice pair with the potatoes to give the dish Indian flair. Use sour curd instead of lime juice if it is available.

4 chopped, peeled, boiled potatoes
½ cup cooked peas
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1 chopped green chili pepper
½ cup sour cream
Salt, to taste

Put the potatoes, peas, cilantro, lime juice, mustard, chili, and sour cream in a bowl.
Mix well and add salt to taste.

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