When I first visited India six years ago on an Eat, Pray, Love-esque journey of self-discovery (also known as a gap year), I instantly fell in love with the country.
From the honking horns of rickshaw drivers hurling roaming cows across the road, to the colorfully dressed women in saris fit for a party, arriving in the heart of India was a sensory explosion.
Yet there is one thing that encapsulates the subcontinent more than anything else: the food. There doesn’t seem to be a street corner in the country that isn’t adorned with carts selling some form of utterly delicious-smelling food – the sweet fried desserts (jalebi), the overwhelmingly spicy appetizers (samosa chaat was a favorite), the refreshing yogurt drinks (nothing better than a lassi to cool you down in the sweltering Indian heat).
You soon realize that in India you don’t just taste food – you experience it.
Here in the UK, the richness, flavor and variety of Indian cuisine is often reduced to basic curries, meager microwave meals or Gavin and Stacey-esque sketches of ordering a takeaway.
Fortunately, the tide is turning, not least in supermarkets where the ever-expanding World Food aisle is making it easier than ever to source authentic ingredients such as spices, pickles, side dishes and sauces.
We want to show you how easy it can be to prepare good Indian food by trying Dishoom’s vegetarian Mattar Paneer, an easy weeknight dinner that will win over the whole family.
Whether you’re cooking Indian for the first time or want to add impressive Indian dishes to your repertoire, we’ve rounded up the best Indian cookbooks for you. Grab some stretchy pants and get ready to dive in.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to Indian food, look no further than this cookbook packed with over 1000 recipes from every region of the vast country. All recipes are completely authentic but adapted to be suitable and feasible in a western kitchen.
The resulting dishes are just as beautiful as the cover design. We loved everything from Goan Prawn Curry to traditional tribal dishes found in villages in the northeast of the country.
The cookbook feeds you off the plate, informing you about India’s colorful history and culture, and delving into regional variations of much-loved dishes.
Don’t miss the recipe section from 11 world-renowned guest chefs who put their spin on Indian cuisine.
Buy now £31.99, Amazon
The Nutmeg Route
Spices are an integral part of Indian cuisine. It’s not all about heat, spices can add depth, flavor and layers to cooking, as this beautiful cookbook reveals.
Taking the reader on a historical journey, this book features 80 recipes that profile different spices and show how they can be used and combined to create tasty recipes you won’t believe came out of your kitchen. This book goes beyond India; it is an exploration of the entire Asian continent and shows how spices and culture have become intertwined over the centuries.
Try the Tandoori fried chicken to brighten up a Sunday lunch, or for those who can handle the heat, the delicious Rica Rica shrimp provide a nice kick.
Buy now £17.99, Amazon
Written by Michelin-starred chef Rohit Ghai, this cookbook features hundreds of recipes inspired by his native Punjab and his experience working in some of London’s finest restaurants. Tarkari means vegetable in Urdu and puts a new, innovative twist on traditional vegetarian dishes. Our favorite? The Jackfruit Masala curry and all the chickpea-based ideas made it to our weekly dinner rotation.
While some dishes may seem complicated, the clear step-by-step instructions (besides photography that will make your stomach growl) make it easy to follow by beginners and culinary experts alike.
Buy now £15.94, Amazon
Home cooks know that the secret to flavor is often slow cooking: Simmering sauces and roasting spices for hours brings out notes that are practically impossible to replicate in a quick meal. Unless you have Sodha’s tome Fresh India handy. It somehow manages to recreate the flavors in just a fraction of the time.
The 130 recipes in this book are quick, easy and designed for everyday cooking. In addition, all recipes are vegetarian and ingredients can be substituted to make meals vegan as well. Our favorite dish was the roasted cauliflower korma and we loved trying puddings such as peanut kulfi and pistachio cake.
Buy now £14.40, Amazon
Dishoom: the very first cookbook from the beloved Indian restaurant
Dishoom’s tribute to its Iranian take on Mumbai is transforming the Indian restaurant landscape in the UK and has convinced those looking for affordable and delicious traditional Indian meals.
This cookbook finally reveals the secrets to beloved comfort foods like the Bacon Naan Roll, Okra Fries, and Chicken Ruby. With recipes for making your own Garam Masala spice mix, ginger paste and Masala sauce, this cookbook is an absolute must for those who want to master the basics of cooking in India and create impressive dishes for their friends and family. .
In addition to beautifully curated recipes, a story of food and drink in Bombay comes with beautiful photography, a pull-out poster, and charming tales of such a culturally and culinary rich country.
Buy now £17.68, Amazon
Every day curry
Mastering the art of homemade curries isn’t easy, but we see this cookbook by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar as a good starting point.
With over 100 recipes, this cookbook features an amazing array of vegetarian curries that crisscross the globe. While most of the curries in the book have their roots in Asia, there are also plenty of lesser-known but equally tasty dishes from the Middle East and Africa.
If you have people around, give the Masala Chips a spin; it’s a quick, cozy side dish. For those looking to cook up a quick dinner for the family, try the Cambodian Mango Curry or the Japanese Eggplant Katsu.
Buy now £17.99, Amazon
Made in India: 130 Simple, Fresh and Flavorful Recipes from One Indian Family
Subtitled “Cooked In Britain”, you can be sure that this cookbook strikes the perfect balance between authentic Indian food and the British palate.
In addition to the expected curries, there are also sections on side dishes, puddings and mouthwatering street foods such as feta samosas and chili paneer.
With sections like First-Timer Recipes and Kid Friendly Cooking, this is the perfect cookbook for the aspiring Indian cook who wants to involve their entire family in meal preparation. All in all, there are 130 recipes that will look just as vibrant as the book itself.
Buy now £14.40, Amazon
Mowgli Street Food
If you’re looking for the perfect summer party with tasty appetizers and dishes that will win over large crowds, try making one of these delicious Mowgli Street Food recipes.
Nisha Katona, founder of the famous Mowgli restaurants, shares some of the most iconic recipes such as Lamb Curry, Fenugreek Kissed Fries and the wonderful Chaat Bombs – small crispy pastries filled with a special Indian mixture that causes the perfect explosion of flavors when bitten into them. .
In addition to smaller bites, there are also larger dishes and our favorite, the Chip Butty – a herb-filled potato roti.
Buy now £16.65, Amazon