Most Popular Indian Dishes?

I am sure that everyone will have an opinion about which foods this list should contain, but here is my list of the top 20 most popular dishes across India (I welcome any and all feedback!).

As a representative recipe, I have sometimes swerved to South India so that both North and South Indian cooking is highlighted. For example, my chickpea recipe is not technically chana masala, but it is a South Indian chickpea masala.

While I do not have an Indian mother, auntie, or grandmother to walk me through family recipes, I do have—at last count—61 Indian cookbooks and I follow 115 Indian food blogs and 66 vlogs. This immersion reinforces for me the reality that every Indian cook has their perfect recipe, and it differs from their neighbor next door. As will you have your own idea of what a list like this should contain. I hope you will weigh in with your favorites.

~ Alonna

Caveat: this list does not include basic dishes (rice, raita, chutneys, and bread) that can be found on most Indian tables. Ready?

The Top 20 Indian Dishes

Chaat (with Goldfish!)

Chaat is a top favorite for its varied textures, flavors, and ingredients. This goldfish chaat recipe results in a snack that’s sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, and savory and spicy.

Chicken Biryani

A layered dish of rice and meat and/or vegetables. Many regions of India have their own version of this dish; the most popular biryani comes from Hyderabad.

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Instant pot butter chicken will be a welcome change from your usual weeknight chicken dinner. Plop the ingredients into your Instant Pot, and turn it on and put your feet up with a cup of tea or a cocktail.

Chicken Korma

One of India’s classic masalas for a reason, chicken korma is creamy and aromatic from a heady mix of: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and fennel. The is a perfect weekend cook to share.

Tandoori Chicken

Succulent from a bath in a spice-infused yogurt, roast tandoori chicken is always something to look forward to at the end of any day.

Chickpea Curry (Kerala Kadala)

Hearty and soul-satisfying, coconut chickpea curry is perfect as a centerpiece of a light meal, or happy to play second fiddle to a more showy dinner star.

Easy Weeknight Curry

This is the tempting, easy, weeknight curry you’ve been looking for. Versatile so that it can be vegetarian or not, north Indian, or a coconut milk enriched swing to southern India.

Eggplant Curry (Baingan Bharta)

Smoky and enlivened with cumin, garlic and ginger, eggplant curry is comfort in a bowl. Serve as an appetizer with some flatbread and your guests will be so happy.

Fish Curry (Kerala Molee)

Simple, quick and full of flavor, brighten your weeknight with this coconut fish curry. Healthy to begin with, and if you avoid onions and garlic, there is a twist for you too!

Lamb Curry (Rogan Josh)

Lamb curry (rogan josh) is a standard choice on most Indian restaurant menus for a good reason. Celebrate life and show your family and friends how much you love them with this rich and luscious dish.

Potato Curry (Aloo Masala)

This aromatic potato masala can be a pizza topping, a sandwich filling, a potato salad, or a memorable side dish. What can’t you do with this tasty curry? Make it with cauliflower (gobhi) too!

Shrimp Curry (Chingri Posto)

Bengali shrimp curry with a quick, luscious creamy sauce, and a hit of mustard. A must weeknight main meal that you can whip up at a moments notice using shrimp you have tucked into the freezer.

Spinach Curry (Palak Paneer)

Fresh cheese in a sauce of spinach (palak), or other greens (saag), peas (matar), or in a curry (masala), this bright green spinach curry is a favorite for good reason. Quick and easy enough for weeknight cooking.

Kebabs

Kebabs are easy, endlessly comforting, and customizable. Perfect small bites with tea or supersize them into a “burger” and have a satisfying weeknight meal.

Samosas

Stuffed, fried dumplings usually filled with potatoes and peas (sometimes with ground lamb), eaten as a snack or appetizer. I use puff pastry, give it a try!

Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras)

Pakoras—fritters—are enticing little bites that will brighten up any spot in your day. These onion and potato fritters are so easy and can be made and frozen for that rainy day.

Vindaloo

Vegetarian or meat, vindaloo is an intriguingly fragrant curry, warmed by cardamom, cinnamon, cloves. Sweetened with sugar, tarted up with vinegar, and heated up with fresh and dried chilies.

Lamb Curry (Madras Curry)

Fragrant with fennel, cinnamon, and cloves, and bathed in creamy coconut, this coconut lamb curry is a lovely change from tomato based curries.

Making Dosa at Home

Thin, crisp, and tangy, dosa are the crepes of India. Make your own dosa at home or buy the batter to use for idli, uttapam, and gluten-free, healthy wraps for all sorts of fillings.

Homemade Idli Recipe

Idli and dosas (a very thin and crispy crepe) are one of South India’s gift to the world. Idlis are made with either a plain or flavored batter. Think South Indian coconut, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. Even Sichuan idli is a thing.

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