Drop that takeout menu. Cooking an authentic 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 one of the world’s most exciting food cultures.

But India is hardly a monolithic entity: The South Asian nation boasts 100 different languages and a comparable culinary diversity. The northern part of the country relies heavily on wheat, resulting in a bread-centric cuisine; rice is king farther south; and along the coasts, you’ll find fragrant, coconut-laced fish dishes.

Ready to try your hand at one of these regional specialities? We’ve rounded up our 45 favorite Indian recipes—no delivery fee required.

Masala Dosa

Chicken Tikka Masala

Mutton Bunny Chow

mutton chow
Bunny chow, a hollowed out bread bowl with a spicy, meaty curried filling, is as delightfully messy as it sounds. You can eat every last morsel of this version from Hollywood Bets in Durban, including the curry-soaked bread from the bottom and sides. Get the recipe for Mutton Bunny Chow »Crookes & Jackson

Indian Leavened Flatbread (Naan)

indian naan bread with clarified butter
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 perfect for cooking on the stovetop. Get the recipe for Indian Leavened Flatbread (Naan) »Ingalls Photography

Saag Paneer (Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese)

Goan Cod Curry

Goan Cod Curry
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, not-too-spicy fish stew. Like many curries, the flavor improves the next day, so I suggest making the base for the sauce the night before, even freezing it, and reheating it when you’re ready for dinner. Once the sauce is simmering, cooking the fish and getting dinner on the table takes just a few minutes. Get the recipe for Goan Cod Curry »Farideh Sadeghin

Red Lentils with Green Mango (Malika Masoor Dal)

Aloo Masala (South Indian Potatoes)

Chicken and Prawn Curry

chicken prawn curry
Characteristic of the region’s curries, this intensely spicy one from chef Kevin Joseph of Durban’s The Oyster Box hotel gets its heat not from chiles, but pastes made of fresh garlic, ginger, and onions, plus lots of 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 »Crookes & Jackson

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)

Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer)

Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer)
This creamy dish from Toronto-based Indian cookbook author Smita Chandra makes a phenomenal spread, with oven-baked naan bread on the side. It’s made with the fresh Indian cheese called paneer, peas, and whole peeled tomatoes, along with plenty of tangy fresh fenugreek greens, and it’s spiced lavishly with turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and more. If you can’t find fenugreek greens, kale, Swiss chard, or another green can be substituted. Get the recipe for Creamy Fenugreek and Spinach with Cheese (Methi Malai Paneer) »Ingalls Photography

Telangana-Style Curried Chicken Stew

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

Thalassery-Style Fish Curry (Thalassert Meen Curry)

Punjabi-Style Carrot Pudding (Gajar ka Halwa)

Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)

Goan Coconut Cake (Baath)
A hint of rosewater adds sweet, floral aroma to this moist, dense semolina cake, packed with four types of coconut. Refrigerating overnight gives the semolina time to soak up the sweet coconut liquid, resulting in a softer, more tender crumb. Get the recipe for Goan Coconut Cake (Baath) »Matt Taylor-Gross

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

papaya stir-fry
When writer VK Sreelesh visits his in-laws’ house in the south Indian state of 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 papaya version, minced green papaya is first steamed and then mixed with robust coconut and chile paste, and spiced with cumin seeds, garlic, and turmeric. Get the recipe for Papaya Thoran (Keralan-Style Fried Green Papaya) »James Oseland

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo
This tangy, spicy curry from Goa, India, has roots in vinh d’alho, a stew brought to the region by Portuguese colonists. Now an Indian restaurant staple, it comes in countless variations—some fiery, some mild—from the subcontinent to the British Isles. Get the recipe for Chicken Vindaloo »Landon Nordeman

Cilantro Yogurt Chutney

South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar)

South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar)
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.” What we discovered in our test kitchen is that any combination of vegetables, such as yams, zucchini, or eggplant, can be added to this aromatic south Indian stew. Get the recipe for South Indian Vegetable Stew (Sambar) »James Oseland

Smita Chandra’s Daikon Curry

Smita Chandra's Daikon Curry
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, daikon is enhanced with an aromatic blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices. Get the recipe for Smita Chandra’s Daikon Curry »Ingalls Photography

Spiced Dal with Peanuts and Dill

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)

Bengali-Style Fish Stew (Maacher Jhol)

Bengali-Style Fish Stew (Maacher Jhol)
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) »Ingalls Photography

Indian Fish and Potato Tikkis

Fish and Potato Tikkis with Chile and Lime
A simple Indian croquette with fish, bold hits of cumin and green chile, and a refreshing mint chutney. This is a great way to use up leftover cooked white fish; simply substitute 8 oz. of cooked fish and skip the first step. Get the recipe for Indian Fish and Potato Tikkis »Matt Taylor-Gross

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)
This vibrant Indian curry comes from the Meghwal tribe of Gujarat’s Thar Desert. Since there is little local agriculture—the closest vegetable market is in the capital city of Bhuj, 35 miles away—the cuisine is spare, but it is delicious in its simplicity. This tribal cabbage-and-potato curry is traditionally cooked over a wood fire, along with millet rotla, a flatbread, but the stovetop works just as well. Get the recipe for Spicy Cabbage-and-Potato Curry (Bund Gobhi Aur Aloo Ki Subzi) »James Roper

Hot Mix (Indian Spiced Snack Mix)

Hot Mix (Indian Spiced Snack Mix)
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) »Ingalls Photography

Red Chutney

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

Indian Samosas

Indian Samosas
Triangular deep-fried pastries stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas are an iconic Indian snack. Pair them with tangy tamarind chutney or herbaceous coconut-cilantro chutney for dipping. Get the recipe for Indian Samosas »James Roper

Indian Lime Rice

Rajasthani White Chicken Curry

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)
Indian culinary expert 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. It is soured with tamarind and seasoned with curry leaves and mustard seeds. Get the recipe for Hyderabadi-Style Lentil Stew (Khatti Dal) »Ingalls Photography

Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala)

Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala)
This richly spiced chicken dish is adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s classic Flavors of India (West 175 Publishing, 1995). According to Jaffrey, “What gives this a very special southern flavor is the use of fennel seeds, curry leaves, and, of course, the pulse (legume) urad dal. This is definitely a dish you will want to make very frequently.” We couldn’t agree more. Get the recipe for Chettinad Pepper Chicken (Koli Milagu Masala) »Ingalls Photography

Gulab Jamun (Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts)

Indian Vada Pav is the Ultimate Veggie Burger

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

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

Pistachio Ice Cream

Roti (Indian Whole Wheat Flatbread)

Cheddar Cheese-Stuffed Kulcha

Cilantro-Mint Chutney

Making Indian samosas, triangular fried pastries filled with peas and potatoes, is nothing like crafting delicate French pastry. It calls for a technique called moyan dena, which involves vigorously rubbing fat into flour between your fingers–a process that develops the flour’s glutens, coats every particle with fat, and produces a sturdy shell that won’t rupture during frying. It yields a golden, flaky snack that is as gratifying to eat as it is to make. —Margo True Get the recipe for Cilantro-Mint Chutney »Todd Coleman

Pork Vindaloo

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

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

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.” Indeed, the centralized location of Khan’s ancestral city of Hyderabad made it ripe for culinary cross-pollination. 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) »Ingalls Photography

45 Best Indian Food Recipes

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