What Is a Typical Dinner in India?
Indian dinners vary across regions but usually consist of roti, naan or rice, at its core, served with dal, a lentil stew or other vegetable and meat dishes. The flavour of traditional Indian meals covers the full spectrum with sweet, spicy, sour and some bitter notes. Hot and strongly flavoured foods are eaten across the country but most meals also include milder components. Food is usually coupled with plain water, although occasionally people consume lassi, a drink of thinned yogurt with their meals. Tea is a popular hot beverage consumed in the north while people in the south of India enjoy coffee with milk. Indian desserts consist of rice pudding and milk-based sweets soaked in sugar syrup among others.
4 Reasons Why Indian Food is Beneficial for Your Health
1. Fresh Ingredients
Indian dishes are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, thereby free of preservatives and artificial ingredients, making it very healthy.
2. Medicinal Properties of Spices
Most spices used in Indian cooking provide various health benefits if consumed in moderation. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which have the potential to prevent heart disease, black pepper aids in digestion, cloves provide relief from various tooth problems and cumin helps to control blood pressure. These are some of the spices used in food that not only provide flavour but are good for health.
3. Use of Lots of Grains
Rice, Bajra and Jowar are grown in abundance and are therefore a staple in India. This along with a variety of pulses used in Indian food provide the necessary protein and carbohydrate for the body.
4. Healthy Cooking Process
All vegetables and fruits used are cooked in different ways to retain their freshness and nutrients. Therefore, its health benefits can be redeemed enjoyably.
5 Healthy and Simple Indian Dinner Recipes
1. Poha-Oats Dosa
A comforting and delicious bowl of oatmeal is packed with protein and is low on fat and full of fibre. It boosts your energy and helps you lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. These reasons are good enough to switch to oats for your meals tomorrow. Although oats are paired with only sweet foods like sugar, or fruits, it can also be used to prepare a delicious savoury dish like oats-dosa, a lip-smacking recipe.
- Oats –1 cup,
- Pressed rice (Poha) –1 Cup
- Semolina – ¾ cup
- Rice Flour – ½ Cup
- Hung Curd – 1 Cup
- Water – about ½ cup
- Salt to taste and ghee – 2 Tbsp
- Grind the following ingredients to a smooth powder – Oats, Poha and Semolina. Transfer this powder into a bowl and add Rice Flour, Salt, Hung Curd and mix well.
- Add water and make the batter to a medium-thick pourable consistency without any lumps.
- Place a pan on the stove and once it is slightly hot, pour a ladle of batter at the centre and spread it evenly in a circular manner. Drizzle a little oil and cook the dosa on medium flame until it is crisp and brown. Serve this instant dosa with chutney and sambhar.
2. Barley and Moong Dal Kichidi
Khichdi is a homely meal that is soothing and satiating to the palate. You do not have to stick to the traditional ingredients while making khichdi. Give an innovative twist to it by replacing rice with fibre-rich grains like barley, which will keep you full for long because of its rich fibre content. Take this khichdi with low-fat curds for a wholesome one dish meal.
- Barley – ½ cup (Soak in water for 30 minutes)
- Yellow Moong Dal – 1 cup
- Olive Oil – 2 Tsp
- Cumin Seeds – ½ Tbsp
- Turmeric Powder and Asafoetida – ¼ tsp each
- Finely Chopped Green Chillies – 1 Tsp
- Salt to Taste.
- Heat oil in a cooker. Add cumin seeds, when they crackle add turmeric, asafoetida, and green chillies. Sauté for a few seconds.
- Add yellow moong dal, barley, salt and 4 cups water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
- Serve this tasty khichdi with low-fat curds.
3. Multigrain Dalia Kichidi
Dalia is a superfood. It is very good source of protein and protein takes a long time to digest, boosts metabolism and supresses hunger pangs. It also stimulates weight regulating hormones. Hence, Daliya is an excellent option for those who want to reduce weight.
- Multigrain Dalia – ½ cup
- Chopped Onion – ¼ cup
- Tomatoes – 1/4 cup
- Capsicum – 1/4 cup
- 1 Chopped Green Chilli
- Chopped ginger – ¼ tsp
- Red chilli Powder – ½ tsp
- Pepper Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Asafoetida – a pinch
- Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
- Water – 3 Cups
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds, when they crackle add green chilli and ginger. Sauté for few seconds and add chopped onion. Fry until onion turns golden brown. Now add chopped capsicum, and tomatoes.
- Add red chilli powder, turmeric, black pepper powder and salt. Add multigrain dahlia, sauté for a minute and add 3 cups of water.
- Cover with a lid and cook on low flame until all water is absorbed. Serve hot with curd.
4. Moong Dal Chilla
Moong Dal Chilla is a delicious and healthy Indian pancake. It is known as puda or pudla in Gujarat. It tastes heavenly when served with lahsun ki chutney or curd.
- Yellow Moong Dal – 1 Cup
- Pink Himalyan Salt – 1 Tsp
- Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
- Chopped Onion – 1/2 cup
- Roasted Cumin – ½ tsp
- Wash and soak Yellow Moong Dal for about 2 to 3 hours. Drain and Grind dal with red chilli powder, roasted cumin, turmeric and salt to a smooth paste.
- Add chopped onion to the batter.
- Heat a griddle and pour a ladle of batter at the centre and spread it to make a thin dosa. Flip and cook the chilla on the other side too.
- Serve hot with curd or your favourite chutney.
5. Peru Ki Sabzi
We use veggies to make juices, how about using fruit to make a subzi? Fruits like Guava and papaya combine well with spices and the resulting aromatic concoction is sure to satiate your palate. The fibre-rich guavas perfectly blend with tomatoes and capsicum in this delectable dish that makes a healthy treat.
- Unpeeled ripe guavas – 6
- Cubed Capsicum – 1 cup
- Oil – 2 Tsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1 Tsp
- Turmeric Powder – ½ Tsp
- Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
- Cubed Tomatoes – 1 Cup
- Cumin and Coriander seeds powder – 1 Tbsp
- Chilli Powder – 2 Tsp
- Amchur Powder – 1/2 Tbsp
- Sugar – 2 tsp
- Salt to Taste
- Chopped Coriander for garnishing
- Cut the outer portion of guava into medium-sized cubes. Blend the center portion into a smooth paste with ½ cup water. Strain this paste and keep aside. You will get about 1 cup of guava paste.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds when they crackle add capsicum, tomatoes, guava paste, chopped guava cubes, coriander-cumin powder, dried mango powder, chilli powder, salt, sugar and ½ cup water. Cook this mixture for 3 – 4 minutes on medium flame. Stir occasionally.
- Serve immediately garnished with coriander.
5 Unique Options for Main Course Indian Dinner Recipes
1. Dum Panner Kali Mirch
This unique dish uses a generous amount of black pepper and is then cooked under dum.
- For Onion Paste - Sliced Onion – 3 cups, Water – ½ cup and Oil – 2 Tbsp.
- For Gravy - Garam Masala (Green Cardamom – 4, Cloves – 6, Cinnamon – 1/3 inch), Ghee – 2 Tablespoon, Ginger-Garlic Paste – 2 Tablespoon, Water about 1 cup, 4 Green Chillies – Finely chopped, Turmeric – ½ Teaspoon, Crushed Black Pepper – 1.5 Tsp, Coriander Powder – 2 Teaspoon, Cumin Powder – 1.5 Teaspoon, Red Chilli Powder – 1.5 Tsp, Salt – 1.5 Tsp, Cream – 4 Tablespoon, Kasoori Methi – 1 Tablespoon, Garam Masala Powder – ½ Tsp, Cream – 4 Tablespoon, Coriander leaves for garnishing.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry onions until it is a deep brown. Stir constantly, so that they don’t burn. Blend the fried onions with ½ cup water into a smooth paste and set aside.
- In a deep Pan, heat Ghee. Add Cinnamon, Cloves, and Cardamom. Sauté until it leaves aroma. Add Ginger, Garlic Paste and fry for a minute. Add Green Chillies and sauté for another minute.
- Add the prepared onion paste along with yogurt to the above mix. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add Cumin-Coriander Powder, Black Pepper Powder, Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder and Salt. Mix and cook until oil separates.
- Add Paneer Cubes, Water and Cream.
- Now, cover the pan securely with a lid ensuring that no steam escapes. Reduce the flame and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Finally, add Kasoori Methi and Garam Masala Powder. Mix and garnish with coriander.
2. Shahi Egg Curry
Shahi means ‘Royalty’ and shahi curry has its origin from the Mughlai cuisine. It is a rich dish flavoured with spices and cream. It is a perfect combination for Tandoori Roti or Chapati.
- Whole Spices – Cloves – 3, Green Cardamom – 1, Bay Leaf- 1, Black peppercorns – 4, Refined Oil – 4 tsp.
- For Gravy – Boiled Eggs – 5, Ginger (chopped) – 1-inch, Green chilli (chopped) – 1, Garlic (chopped) – 5 cloves, Coriander Leaves – 2 Tbsp, Onions – 3, Cashews – 6 (soaked in lukewarm water), Chopped Tomatoes – 4, Cumin Powder – ½ tsp. Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp, Kasoori methi – 1 tsp, Coriander Powder – 2 tsp, Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp, Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp.
- Grind soaked cashews and tomatoes into a fine paste.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add red chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and salt. Add boiled eggs to this mixture and fry eggs on low flame until they are lightly golden. Take the eggs out.
- In the same oil add all the whole spices and sauté them. Add in onions, chopped ginger and garlic and sauté until onions are golden brown.
- Add cashew and tomato paste, red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt and coriander powder. Sauté until oil leaves the sides of the pan. Add water to get the required consistency. Add in green chilli, garam masala, Kasuri methi, and eggs. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.
3. Keema Biryani
Biryani is a classic dish of India that needs no introduction. With several distinctive styles and variations of biryanis, one is spoilt for choices. Keema Biryani is an absolutely unique specialty that is perfect for occasions like pot lucks or anniversaries.
- Basmati Rice – 350 Grams
- Minced Chicken – 400 grams
- Yoghurt – 3 tbsp
- Onion – 1 large
- Ginger and garlic paste – 2 tsp
- Milk – ½ cup
- Ghee – 100 gm
- Saffron – 1 tsp
- Cinnamon – 11/2-piece
- Black Cardamom – 3
- Clove – 4
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
- Chicken Stock – 1 Cup
- Lime Juice – 1 Tablespoon
- Salt to Taste
- Take water in a vessel, when it starts boiling add rice and salt to it. Cook until rice is half-done. Drain the water and set aside. Mix milk and saffron and keep aside.
- Heat ghee in a thick bottomed vessel. Add chopped onions and fry until it is translucent. Add whole spices and fry for 1 minute. Add ginger-garlic paste and minced meat. Fry for 6 to 7 minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Once keema is cooked and releases fine aroma, mix in red chilli powder, curd and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on low flame. Cook until keema is nicely cooked and oil begins to separate the sides of the pan.
- Remove the mixture from flame. Take a baking dish with lid. Add a portion of half-cooked rice as the first layer. Add the prepared keema as the second layer and sprinkle some saffron milk and a bit of lime juice. Repeat this process with top layer rice. Pour chicken stock on these layers.
- Seal the dish with a lid and bake for 15 minutes at low temperature. Serve hot!
4. Makhana Mutter Curry
Makhanas or fox nuts are used in sweets and savouries like makhana curry, raita or kheer or enjoyed as a tea-time snack. Makhanas are low in calories and are gluten-free. Makhana mutter curry is a delicious curry that goes well with rice or hot puris.
- Makhana (fox nut) – 3 cups. Oil – 3 Tbsp, Green Peas – ¼ cup.
- For Gravy – Tomatoes – 2 cup, Cashew – ¼ cup, Ginger – 1 Tbsp, Oil – 1 Tbsp, Cumin Seeds – ½ Tsp, Asafoetida – 1/8th Tsp, Chilli Powder – ½ tsp, Coriander Powder – 2 tsp, Sugar – 1 tsp, Salt – 1 Tsp, Garam Masala – ¼ tsp, Coriander leaves for garnishing.
- Heat oil (3 tbsp) in a pan. Add makhana and roast continuously until they are crisp, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Blend tomatoes, ginger and cashews to make a puree.
- Heat oil in a saucepan. Add cumin seeds and when they crackle add asafoetida, tomato paste, chilli and coriander powder, sugar and salt. Sauté for 2 – 3 minutes or until oil separates from the mix.
- Add green peas and roasted makhana and 11/2 cups of water. Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes on low heat.
- Turn Off the heat and add garam masala and cilantro.
5. Malabar Prawn Curry
The Malabar cuisine is distinctive as it has incorporated the flavours of various cultures like Chirakkal, Zamarin, Brahmin and Arab that has blended uniquely lending a unique aroma and flavour to its non-veg and vegetarian dishes. The Malabari cuisine includes a wide array of seafood delicacies and Malabar Prawn Curry is one of them.
- Tiger Prawns – 600 grams (peeled)
- Palm Sugar – 1 Tbsp
- Lemon Juice of 1 lime
- Coconut Milk – 200 ml
- Curry Leaves – a few
- Coconut Cream – 200 ml
- Roughly chopped Tomatoes – 4
- Ground Coriander and Turmeric – ½ tsp each
- Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
- Garlic and Ginger paste – 2 tsp
- Thinly Sliced Onions – 2
- Curry Leaves – 12
- Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
- Groundnut Oil – 3 Tbsp.
- Heat groundnut oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they start crackling add curry leaves. Add Onions and ginger, garlic paste. Fry for 5 minutes until onions are brown and add turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Add tomatoes and fry until tomatoes are mushy.
- Now add coconut milk and cream. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add palm sugar and lemon juice with salt. Add prawns into this gravy just before serving, as it only takes few minutes to cook. Serve garnished with fresh coriander.
India Dinning Etiquette
Indians are very hospitable and love to entertain and usually, casually visiting guests are invited to stay for a meal. It is customary to serve drinks and snacks when you arrive along with some chit-chat. When dinner is announced, everyone will wash and dry their hands and proceed to the table. Instead of individual portions, several dishes are prepared and are eaten at one go contrary to 'Courses' in western culture. Although it is acceptable to use cutlery most Indians prefer to use their fingers which is done neatly using the tips of the fingers. However, it is not considered polite to put your fingers in your mouth or lick them. Always use your right hand to eat as Indians consider the left hand unclean. Indian hosts or hostesses will urge you to have some more, as the quantity you eat is considered an indication of your enjoyment of the meal.
Browse cookbooks for recipe inspiration!
Want to cook more from your cookbooks more often but can’t seem to find the time to actually look through them? Use the time while dinner is in the oven! Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit down to browse through recipes to make for dinner next week, and then prepare a list with any ingredients you need to pick up at the store.