Indian Recipes - Main Dishes
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All photos by Nicky Garratt copyright 1999



Fried Yogurt Indian Breakfast
"This is my favorite breakfast.  I eat it with Nan bread and hot lime/ginger pickles."

  • 1 Tablespoon of light vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Bengal Panch Phoron mix *
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of ground asafetida powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of finely diced ginger
  • 3 Small hot green Chili's
  • 1 Cup plain yogurt

  • * (Equal parts whole Cumin, Mustard seeds, Fennel, Fenugreek and Nigella seeds)

Heat oil in a frying pan. When hot, throw in Bengal Panch Phoron.  Cover to prevent splattering.  As soon as the popping stops, add asafetida.  Stir and quickly add ginger and chili's.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes on medium low heat, do not burn.  Turn off heat and let cool a little then stir in 1/3 cup of yogurt.  Warm through and serve. Do not over heat or the yogurt will separate.

"When you make the above breakfast you will need bread to eat with it. This Roti is perfect."

  • 1/2 Cup of Chick-pea flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups of flour (All purpose)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of niger seeds (Optional)
  • 2 Cup warm water (Maximum)
  • More flour for rolling dough

Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a bowl or food processor and a cup of warm water and mix with your hands or in processor until it is a somewhat under control dough and not falling apart. Add the remaining water a bit at a time. As you kneed or process the dough it will get pliable and have a consistency like putty. After a dozen or so minutes in the hand. (Transfer from processor into your hands for a final kneading), dust with flour and put in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. At this stage I leave the dough until I need it, (No pun intended). So in the morning when you are ready for fresh bread, break of a chunk of dough about the size of a golf ball. Dust the counter with flour then roll it out with a rolling pin until it is about 7 or 8 inches across. Keep a fine dusting of flour over the dough to prevent sticking. In the meantime heat up a large flat (Preferably iron) frying pan, (Do not use oil). once quite hot, (A drop of water will sizzle to nothing in a second), lay the rolled dough onto it. Be very careful not to burn the bread, however small burnt patches will quickly appear, turn it over with a fork and repeat. Then move the pan from the flame and quickly tease the bread over the open flame cooking any ridges or edges which still look pink and uncooked. Repeat this until you have made sufficient bread for this particular meal. The rest of the dough can return to the refrigerator for up to 3 days and again be used as needed. Note: The bread tastes best right from the oven still hot, so stack the finished bread in a warm serving dish and keep covered with a clean towel. Also ensure this is your last preparation for the meal. Note: Always give the dough at least half an hour in the refrigerator before the first use.

Flavoring option #1 Methi
Add one Table spoon of Dried Methi leaves, (Fenugreek leaves), to the dry dough ingredients.

Flavoring option #2 Cumin
Reduce the niger seeds to half a teaspoon and add one teaspoon of dry roasted cumin seeds

Eggless Breakfast Omelet
"If I had one word of advice for someone who wanted to be a Vegan (Or Vegetarian), it would be look to ethnic food - all the dishes you need are there. You don't have to eat hippie style lentil casserole or brown rice. Just select from any of the numerous dishes that have been tried and tested for hundreds of years. The other piece of advice would be - get yourself a huge bag of Chick-Pea flour"

  • 1 1/2 cups chick-pea flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Mix these simple ingredients together to get your basic pancake mix. Remember chick-pea flour is not interchangeable with wheat, corn, rice or any other kind of flour. This now needs flavoring, choose from the options below, or invent your own.

Flavoring Options.

Option #1

  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoons of finely diced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of asafetida powder

Option #2

  • 3 finely chopped hot green chilies
  • Two teaspoons of finely diced ginger

Stir into pancake mix. Once the flavoring is added heat up a frying pan with a little oil until hot. Add enough batter (For a large pan it would be about 1/3 of a cup), and move the pan at an angle until the mixture is spread across quite thin. Fry each side until golden brown.

Filling Options.
These omelets are good as they come, but like an egg omelet filling can be added. Here is one I like.

Option #1

  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds roasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 of a cup of Apple sauce

Dry roast cumin seeds until they turn a shade darker, then mix into apple sauce along with the cayenne pepper. Can be heated in the same pan as the seeds were roasted or prepared cold. Place sauce on one side of the pancake and fold over.


South Indian Chick Peas
"Quite filling. I like to serve this with something quite sharp like a chili ginger pickle"

  • 1/4 of a cup of vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chili's
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 4 medium to large onions thinly sliced
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 2 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. ground black pepper
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1/4 t. cayenne
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 4 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk

Heat oil over medium heat and add mustard seeds fry until they all pop, then add chili's and curry leaves. Stir for a seconds. Add the onion slices and fry until they are golden brown. Add cumin, coriander, black pepper, salt, cayenne, and turmeric. Mix in thoroughly then immediately add drained chickpeas and coconut milk. Fry for another five minutes stirring constantly. Crush a few chickpeas with a fork to make the consistency like a thick paste. This will reheat ok but may need a drop of water.


Shallot Sambar
"There are so many different family recipes for sambar but they all have one thing in common - ground coriander and lot's of it."

  • 1 cup of toor dal
  • 1/4 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup of grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup of tamarind concentrate
  • 8 t. ground coriander
  • 4 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. cayenne
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 t. ground back pepper
  • 1 t. asafetida powder
  • 2 t. chickpea flour
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 2 cups of peeled small shallots
  • 2 hot green chili's whole but split lengthwise
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t. fenugreek seeds
  • 4 dries red chili's

Rinse dal until water runs clear. Cover and boil with turmeric and 2 1/2 cups of water in saucepan for 3/4 hour. Use fork to mash into puree. Dissolve tamarind in 1/4 cup of hot water set aside. Dry roast the coconut until it turns light brown then turn it to a powder in a food processor. Add coconut powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, asafetida, chickpea flour, curry leaves, shallots, chili's, salt dissolved tamarind and 2 1/2 more cups of water to the cooked Dal. Simmer and stir on low heat until the shallots are cooked (about 20 minutes). In a small pan heat oil, when hot add mustard seeds, fry until they pop then add fenugreek seed followed by dried chili's until the chili's turn a shade darker. Do not burn. Pour the content of the small pan over the samber stir and serve. Re-heats easily.


Peas & Tofu
"I can fully understand why the thought of eating tofu sends people running. In fact this is the only tofu dish I will eat. It's my variation of the popular Indian dish Matar Paneer"

  • 1 block of firm tofu (about 5" X 3" X 1 ")
  • 4 T. vetetable oil
  • 2 medium Onions
  • 1 peice of fresh ginger about 3/4" long
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 3 Small hot green Chili's
  • 1/2 t. cumin seeds
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups of peas
  • 1/2 t. garam masala

Cut tofu into 1" cubes. Heat oil in large frying pan then fry tofu until golden on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels in a bowl. Blend onions, garlic, ginger and chilies in food processor. Using the frying pan again (add another T. of oil if needed), heat oil. Once hot add cumin seeds for a few seconds followed by the onion mixture. Turn to low and fry until unions are golden brown. (10 minutes). Blend tomatoes in food processor and add to pan. Cook for another 5 minutes, stir in turmeric, salt, coriander and continue to cook for three more minutes. Add peas, fryed tofu, and a cup of water. Bring to boil then simmer for ten minutes. Fold in the garam masala and serve.


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Cauliflower & Scallions
"This dish is fresh and quite light but most of all colorful. It's made with the typical southern spices black mustard seeds and urad dal"

  • about 20 scallions
  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 5 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 t. black mustard seeds
  • 1 t. urad dal
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 3 small hot chilies
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups of peas

Wash and brake cauliflower into 1 inch flowerets. Remove the roots from the scallions and dice them into 1/4 inch ringlets. Heat four T. oil in frying pan. Once hot add mustard seeds and urad dal and cover until popping stops. Note: be careful not to burn dal so have next ingredients ready to add to the pan. The Dal should be cooked through. Add turmeric, finely chopped chilies, salt and prepared scallions stir for a few seconds before adding cauliflower. Make sure the cauliflower is coated with spices. Add 1/3 cup of water. Bring to the boil and cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Check how firm cauliflower is. Do not over cook! If the cauliflower is cooked through but still firm, remove lid and cook away any remaining liquid. Add one T. of vegetable oil and curry leaves. Serve in a nice open dish to display colors.


Spicy Chick-Pea & Potato Curry
"Hearty and filling"

  • 2 Onions sliced into half rings
  • 7 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced.
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 3 small hot green chilies finely chopped
  • 2 T. chopped coriander leaves. Plus a dozen extra leaves for garnish.
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chick-peas
  • 1 large potato chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. mango powder, or 1 t. of lemon juice

Fry onions in the oil using a large saucepan until golden brown. On low/medium heat stir in the ginger, chopped coriander, ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic, chopped chilies, cayenne and fry for 3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and fry until the oil starts to separate. Add the potato, chick-peas and water cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked but still firm. Stir in salt and mango powder well and serve garnished with coriander leaves.


North Indian Smoked EggplantIndia1.JPG (44047 bytes)








"This is simply the best thing you will ever put in your mouth! Unlike many Indian dishes, this is made without dried spices." 

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1/2 a cup of shelled peas (frozen or fresh/cooked)
  • 10 T. spoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 t. of minced garlic
  • 1 T. spoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 medium Onions finely chopped
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green hot chilies finely diced
  • 2 t. of salt
  • 3 T. of finely chopped coriander leaves

Roast eggplants over open flame. If the eggplants are small use three or more. A barbecue is a good method. UseKitch.JPG (35626 bytes) fork to puncture skin all around each eggplant. Roast over flame until the outer skin is black and the eggplant collapse. Slit bottoms with a knife and drain liquid out while they cool. I stand them in a colander with a bowl underneath. (You may want to roast additional eggplants for baba ghanouj). Once the eggplants are cool, scrape white insides into a bowl and discard all the burnt skin. Include any darken portion of the flesh as this adds to the “bharta’s” irresistible smoked flavor. Drain off any additional liquid. The more liquid you remove the sweeter the dish. Chop eggplant. Heat oil in non-stick frying pan; when hot turn down to medium and add garlic, and ginger followed after a few seconds by the onions. Keep stirring to prevent burning and fry for around 12 minutes then add chopped eggplant and chilis. Continue to cook for ten more minutes. Now add chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes stirring regularly. Add peas and salt and cook for a few more minutes. You should start to see oil separating around the edge of the pan. Fold in coriander

Vegetarian Option: Fold in two T. spoons of plain yogurt - this makes it even creamier, I use soy yogurt.Serve with basmti rice and nan bread

Apple Rice
This southern indian style dish is pretty filling, so you might want to eat it just with some soup.

  • 1 cup of Basmati Rice
  • 1/4 cup of raw shelled peanuts
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 t. salt.
  • 2 t. of black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t. asafoetida
  • 6 fresh hot red chillies
  • 1/2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup of dried coconut flakes
  • 2 large cooking apples peeled , cored and cut into half inch peices.
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 more t. black mustard seeds
  • 1 T. chana dal
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • 6 more curry leaves

Soak rice for half an hour (Cover by about 1 inch), then bring to boil. Lower heat, add salt and simmer until rice is cooked (add a little more water if needs be). Let stand undisturbed. Crush mustard seeds with pestle and mortar then put into food processor with asafetida, chilies, coconut and half the apple. Process to a paste. Heat oil in a skillet. when the oil is hot add mustard seed, dal, chili and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds crack add peanut. The raw dal must be cooked through before add the remaining apple pieces. Take care not to burn these ingredients. Once the apple is cooked through, but still holding together, add the content of the processor and cook stirring continually for 5 minutes. Carefully fold mixture into the rice, add remaining curry leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Chayote Squash with nuts
"I also make this southern Indian dish with Crookneck squash instead of Chayote. However most "Soft" squash should work".

  • 2 good sized Chayote SquaIn6thum.JPG (18405 bytes)
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 t. of black mustard seeds
  • 1 t. of whole cumin seeds
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 hot green chilies
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 3 T. grated coconut
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. peanuts crushed
  • 2 T. cashew nuts crushed

Dice the squash into 1 inch cubs (do not peel but remove seeds) place in a bowl next to the cook top. In a saucepan heat oil until very hot throw in cumin and mustard seeds and let sizzle, covered, until mustard seeds stop popping (a few seconds).Stir in onion, garlic, and chilies, (stem trimmed and cut in half length ways),   followed a few seconds later by curry leaves. Lower heat and fry for about 10 minutes until onions are golden. Add coconut, salt and 1 cup of water, bring to boil. Add squash, cover and simmer until squash is cooked. Note: squash like zucchini will take less time. While squash is cooking dry roast crushed nuts in a small frying pan careful not to burn them by continuously shaking pan. Serve with nuts as garnish.

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Lemon Tomato Rasam
Spicy southern Indian soup.

  • 1/4 cup of Toor dal
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger
  • 4 hot green chilies
  • 1/2 t. cumin seeds dry roasted
  • 3/4 t. whole black pepper
  • 1/2 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • Juice from one lemon
  • A few coriander leaves
  • 2 T. spoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 t. asafetida powder
  • 1 fresh green chili pepper
  • 8 curry leaves

Rinse dal until the water runs clear then bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until the dal is fully cooked (About 1 hour). In food processor blend ginger and chilies into a paste. Grind cumin seeds and whole black pepper with a pestle and mortar until fine powder, set aside. Add chili/ginger paste, turmeric, salt and tomatoes to dal. Cook until tomatoes begin to fall apart. Heat oil in a skillet. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafetida, pepper/cumin powder and chilies. When the mustard seeds pop, add to dal. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Potatoes With Fenugreek Leaves
"Justin Sane came over the other night complaining about not being able to find tasty vegan food, so I showed him this way to spice up potatoes without being any kind of cook." 

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 T. spoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 t. of curry powder
  • 1 T. spoon dried fenugreek leaves

In3thum.JPG (16059 bytes)Cut a couple of medium potatoes up into 1 1/2 inch cubes boil in salt water until cooked but still firm.  Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium high flame. When oil is hot add a teaspoon of master curry powder (home made or store bought) to the oil; stir quickly, then add the drained potato cubes. Toss in the oil and lower heat. Take a tablespoon of dried methi leaves (fenugreek leaves), roll in your hands to break them up, then add them to the pan.  Keep stirring until the potatoes are golden brown on the outside. Serve with some chutney.

Mixed vegetable Sambar
"From south India, this dish is great for using up a Varity of vegetable in the refrigerator.  Alternatively you can use the vegetables in peek season when they are cheap. It's rich and filling - a meal on it's own. When served with rice and a little pickle it's a banquet" 


  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 t. black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 t. cumin seeds
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 1/2 t. asafetida powder
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 3 T. of grated coconut
  • 1 cup of toor dal (or masoor dal). Washed and picked over.
  • 2 t. sambar powder (south Indian masala)
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds of mixed vegetables (My favorite mixes often include some of the following: green beans, carrot, cauliflower, zucchini, potatoe, red bell pepper, peas, okra, parsnips)
  • 1/3 cup of tamarind juice
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • Another 1/4 of a cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 more cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped cilantro

Heat oil in large saucepan. Once oil is hot add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. when the mustard seeds start to splatter add chilies, asafetida, garlic and coconut. Stir until the garlic and coconut turn golden. Add uncooked dal, turmeric, sampar powder, 2 cups of water and salt. Bring to boil then simmer, covered, until the dal starts to brake down. Clean trim and cut vegetables into pieces about an inch cube where necessary - add to the pot with the tomatoes and tamarind juice. Cook until the vegetables are done but still firm. Heat oil in a small frying pan add chopped garlic and cilantro and fry until garlic starts to turn golden. Turn vegetable/dal mix into a serving bowl then fold garlic/cilantro oil in right as you serve it.


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Nicky hard at work on recipes in Kerala