Easy and Delicious Indian Meals – From the Classics to Fun Fusions
Here we share our 10 favorite Indian dinner recipes from our meal plan service, including some vegetarian Indian meals and Indian chicken recipes. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at homemade tikka masala or need an Indian Butter Chicken recipe, search no further!
Here at Cook Smarts, our members love when Indian and Indian-inspired meals show up on the menu. Creamy, richly spiced curries, ginger and garlic-scented vegetables, fragrant basmati rice, and pillowy naan are the stuff dreams are made of — and if we can recreate a takeout favorite in our own kitchen (and with more vegetables), we’re all for it!
The problem is, many traditional Indian recipes use so many spices and other ingredients that they’re not exactly weeknight-friendly. Luckily, spice blends such as curry powder and garam masala offer quick and easy shortcuts for including lots of spices in a single scoop. In our Indian food recipes, we try to balance true Indian flavor with a short ingredient list for delicious meals that don’t take all night to make.
Here we share our 10 favorite Indian and Indian-inspired recipes from our meal plans. Some are “takeout fakeout” recipes — like Chicken Tikka Masala, Chickpea Curry, and Chicken Korma — while others use Indian flavors in common American meals — such as Indian Naan Pizzas, Indian Chili with Ground Turkey, and Indian Chicken Burgers.
The common denominator? They’re all delicious, and they’ll all make great use of your printable Indian pantry list. If you haven’t downloaded the list, get it here. It will help you stock up on all the ingredients you’ll need to make Indian food a regular part of your meals.
Indian Pantry Staples
Stock your pantry with these ingredients and be ready to whip up tons of delicious dishes from all over India!
Let’s kick things off with one of the most popular Indian dishes around — tikka masala, which is a spiced, tomato-based cream sauce. Meat, usually chicken breast, is marinated in spices and yogurt, then simmered in the sauce alongside vegetables. It’s served over rice and, in our version, with a sprinkle of cilantro and a dollop of yogurt on top. We add peas and cauliflower into our take on tikka masala, so there’s no need to add an additional side salad or roasted veggies.
This mild curry soup gets a delicious and unusual flavor contrast from the addition of chopped tart green apples, whose flavors melt into the rest of the soup so they’re almost indistinguishable from the chunks of potato you’ll also find here! We use curry powder, garam masala, and turmeric for the spice mix, which means you’ll include many savory spices in this soup without the hassle of measuring them each out individually (curry powder and garam masala are both spice blends). Coconut milk adds creaminess to the finished soup, and rice is stirred in before serving as well.
This vegetarian stew was inspired by samosas — Indian pastries, often fried, filled with savory spices, potatoes, onions, vegetables, and sometimes meats. We use red lentils to add protein to ours so that this stew is a complete meal — think of it as a healthy samosa recipe since we skip the fried part and serve it with naan instead. It’s also packed with veggies, from onions to carrots to potatoes to peas to tomatoes, and is fragrant with fresh garlic, optional jalapeños and ginger, and Indian spices. This one-pot meal takes just 35 minutes total.
This takeout favorite involves a rich tomato curry sauce flavored with garlic and ginger plus a mix of Indian spices. Butter (or ghee) and half and half give it its name and famous creamy texture, but even so this is a relatively healthy butter chicken recipe, using considerably less butter and cream than Indian restaurants do. For a fun twist, we simmer Indian chicken meatballs in the sauce instead of chopped pieces of chicken. Cauliflower and spinach add plenty of nutrients. Our recipe makes enough Indian Butter Curry Sauce that you’ll have some left over for Indian Naan Pizza (below), but you can also whisk yogurt into leftover sauce to use as a dip for vegetables or pita chips!
This unique Indian-inspired meal comes together in just 30 minutes if you have leftover Indian Butter Curry Sauce ready to go (from the Indian Butter Chicken Meatballs, above). It includes just a few ingredients thanks to reusing this flavorful sauce plus using naan flatbread as the pizza crust, but is packed with delicious flavors. We serve this pizza with a simple romaine side salad with a curry-spiced vinaigrette to keep the Indian theme going. This meal gets rave reviews from our Cook Smarts community — including a few members who thought it sounded “weird” at first glance!
These crispy roasted drumsticks are marinated with Indian spices and coconut milk for a full day (if you have the time) before baking. They’re served with creamy sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and spices, as well as a side of peas with butter, lemon juice, and cilantro. It’s a simple, high-protein meal but is full of flavor, with each dish complementing and bringing out the flavors and textures of the other dishes.
This Indian-inspired chili can be made on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, but we love putting it in the slow cooker so we can smell it simmering all day long. An Indian curry spice mix flavors ground turkey, garbanzo beans, and sweet potatoes in a tomato-based broth fragrant with ginger and garlic. The chili is topped with yogurt and green onions, and served with crispy spiced naan chips for dipping. This is a great meal to make ahead of time and let the flavors come together for a day or two in the fridge!
Quick to prep thanks to coleslaw mix, canned garbanzos, and canned crushed tomatoes, this vegetarian curry recipe gets great reviews from our community. It contains cubed potatoes, garbanzo beans, and shredded cabbage, which are simmered in an Indian-spiced, tomato-based curry made with tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and made creamy through the addition of coconut milk. It’s served over ginger-scented jasmine rice with a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime on top.
Another popular takeout dish, Chicken Korma can be made at home in 40 minutes. In this meal you’ll simmer chunks of chicken breast with potatoes in a coconut milk gravy spiced with curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, and cumin. Instead of onion, this meal uses the sweet, delicate flavor of shallot, along with ginger and garlic. You’ll stir fresh spinach into the mix toward the end so it’s just barely wilted, and serve the meal over rice for a well-balanced comfort food dinner.
Indian spices flavor this ground chicken burger that can be cooked on the stovetop, or take it outside to the grill if the weather’s nice. The burger gets a creamy, fresh addition from the cucumber raita, a yogurt-based sauce full of finely sliced cucumbers and spiced with fresh cilantro, ground coriander, and cumin powder. Mango chutney adds a flavor contrast of tart and sweet, and the burger is paired with a side of roasted (or grilled), curry-spiced grilled okra. It’s a delicious twist on the classic burger that you’ll be craving for weeks afterward.
Want more easy Indian food recipes and other great dinner ideas? Our meal plan service offers 4 meals per week with the choice of original, gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian versions, as well as an extensive archive of past recipes. All of the recipes and techniques mentioned above are a part of the service. For more info and to get a taste test with a free 14-day trial, sign up here.