I've been trying to be more adventurous in my cooking lately. It was getting to the point where there were really only a handful of dishes I could reliably make. It gets boring! I'm also trying to find more meals with fewer carbs and more meals with leftovers I can bring to work.
It has taken a few years, but I've really started to enjoy the flavours of Indian food (I want to put cumin seeds in everything). I still don't like things to be too hot, but that's a benefit of home cooking—you can adjust the heat to your liking but still keep all the flavour. And spicy food is just more filling.
When looking for Indian recipes, I've found two sites that I go to first:
I know there are lots out there. These were just the first ones I found that had recipes that worked well for me and that seemed "authentic."
The hardest part of cooking food from other cultures is finding the spices and other unusual ingredients. Indian food is all about the spices. Most you can find in the regular spice aisle (e.g., turmeric and coriander), but there are others you're going to have to search for. If you live in Canada, Superstore has a pretty well-stocked ethnic food aisle. I found things like cumin seeds, tandoori masala, and garam masala there. For things like Kashmiri red chili pepper and amchur, I had to find a dedicated Indian market (of which there are many in Calgary). The nice thing about spices is that you don't need much. Once your spice rack is stocked, you'll be good for quite a while.
Here are the recipes I've made lately that we've really enjoyed:
I've seen many recipes for butter chicken, but they either required some store-bought "butter chicken" paste or were way too complicated. This recipe is simple and produces fantastic results. I never put more than ¼ tsp of cayenne in a batch. Now that I have my various Indian chili powders, though, I've forgone the cayenne altogether. Instead I use a full teaspoon of Kashmiri red chili powder (degi mirch), which is hotter than plain paprika but much milder than cayenne and regular Indian red chili powder (lal mirch). I use the Kashmiri powder pretty widely now whenever chili powder is called for. This is Adele's and my favourite dish. We make it a fair bit.
I love how simple this recipe is. It's the only way I'll eat cauliflower now (other than mashed as a potato replacement), and it's much more healthful than smothering it with cheese. It's great as just a dry vegetable side dish.
I had never heard of this dish before, and neither of my "go to" sites even had beef recipes. A friend said it was her favourite Indian dish, though, so I looked it up. I had a few jars of stewing beef left, and I had all the spices, so I decided to give it a shot. I really liked it! Adele didn't mind it, but it wasn't her favourite. It's not a sauce, but it's still really moist—think pulled pork. I again omitted the cayenne and replaced 1 tsp of the paprika with Kashmiri red chili powder. So many delicious spices in this dish! It is really aromatic. A definite keeper.
I really like the matar paneer a local restaurant makes, so I decided to try making it at home. I like this recipe because it has so many pictures and even tells you how to make the paneer. The recipe is simple to make, but it does take some time—especially if you double it. The first time I made it I also made my own paneer. It took a couple tries but it finally worked. But I'm not getting it to bind like the store-bought paneer. The latest time I made it, the store-bought paneer was on sale, so I tried it. I thought it was great! I'm still going to try making my own a couple more times to see if I can make it gel right, but I'm not going to shy away from just buying it. This is a great-tasting vegetarian dish. I really like it.
And you can't eat any of this without some bread! Naan is of course a favourite, but unless you have a proper oven, don't bother. I have a baking stone, but my oven still doesn't get quite hot enough to do it justice. If you really want naan, find a local restaurant and just order it from them. Paratha and roti, though, are simple fry breads that are easy to do at home. The only difference between paratha and roti seems to be the folding. The contents seem identical to me. I like adding the cumin seeds, but you don't have to. This bread is super simple and tastes great with the other dishes. It just takes a little time to make if you don't have a griddle. Frying them one at a time takes quite a while.
There you go! If you have other dishes you think I should try (Indian or not), or if you have other recipes you think might taste better, let me know!