15 Healthy Indian-Inspired Recipes for Weeknights
On busy weeknights, you can enjoy a bold and delicious Indian-inspired meal with ease. The key is to use plenty of spices in your meal because they can add a punch of flavor in a short amount of time. Recipes like Lemon Rice (Chitrannam), Okra Fry (Bhindi Masala) and Easy Saag Paneer are healthy and satisfying on any night.
Lemon Rice (Chitrannam)
Use up leftover rice and make it into something delicious with this healthy Indian recipe. Because cooked rice refrigerated overnight dries out a little, it's better suited to absorb all the flavors in this dish without getting sticky or mushy. In a pinch, use frozen or shelf-stable precooked basmati rice, available in many stores. Urad dal and roasted chana dal add texture and authenticity to the rice--look for both types of dal in Indian markets or online.
Chickpea Curry (Chhole)
Made with convenient canned beans, this quick and healthy Indian recipe is an authentic chickpea curry that you can make in minutes. If you want an additional vegetable, stir in some roasted cauliflower florets. Serve with brown basmati rice or warm naan.
Easy Saag Paneer
The paneer cheese in this fast and easy dinner doesn't melt when it cooks. It browns instead, giving a toothsome texture to this Indian classic packed with spinach and spices. Serve over brown basmati rice to round out this healthy meal.
Cashew Butter Chicken Masala
Butter or even heavy cream usually gives butter chicken its rich, satisfying quality. In this healthy version of a butter chicken recipe, cashew butter creates an equally luxurious texture. Chickpea flour thickens the sauce, but is optional if you don't have it on hand. For weeknight speed, marinate the chicken ahead of time and you can have this dish on the table in about 30 minutes. Serve with steamed spinach and basmati rice.
Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani
Using a slow cooker for this dal curry recipe is brilliant--the lentils cook until they're perfectly tender. For the creamiest results, use whole urad dal (versus split), which you can get online or at Indian markets. This particular bean breaks down beautifully, giving the dish its rich, creamy texture. For a stovetop variation, see below. Serve it over rice with Indian-style green chutney and a side of plain yogurt.
Okra Fry (Bhindi Masala)
To avoid the sliminess that turns many people off okra, Indians cook it over high heat in a lot of oil. In this healthy okra recipe, we get similar results with less oil using a nonstick pan. For an authentic taste, use a hot, smoky Indian chili powder, such as reshampatti. Serve with brown basmati rice and yogurt.
Scrambled Egg Curry
This mildly spiced Indian scrambled egg recipe makes a great light lunch or light dinner. Tuck the curried eggs into a warm whole-wheat tortilla or an Indian flatbread, like paratha, which can be found in the freezer case at Indian markets. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Cilantro Chutney (Kothmiri Chatni)
Indian chutneys (or chatnis) are savory, vibrant and exploding with flavor, with a thin, saucy consistency. In this green chutney recipe, cilantro creates the basic sauce that serves as a condiment for many Indian snacks, street foods and sandwiches. The serrano chile gives it quite a blast of heat, so use less if you like a tamer sauce. Try this chutney in place of your favorite hot sauce.
Savory Summer Squash Muffins (Dhoodhi Handvo)
Indian handvo are savory quick breads traditionally made with lauki (also called calabash), a large, mild squash found in India. In this healthy recipe, we use easier-to-find zucchini and bake them in a muffin tin so they all get delightfully crispy edges.
Curried Shrimp & Potato Kebabs
This curried potato and shrimp kebab recipe cooks in less than 5 minutes on the grill and packs plenty of flavor thanks to a generous amount of curry powder, garlic and cilantro.
A tandoori-inspired spice rub and smokiness from the grill flavor these tofu "steaks." While you're there, grill some vegetables, too, to serve alongside. Serve with: Grilled eggplant and cherry tomato skewers and brown basmati rice.
Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas
Make a perfect summer supper: grill spice-rubbed chicken breasts and tuck them into whole-wheat pitas along with fresh vegetables and a tangy yogurt sauce. Serve with: Grilled vegetables and a pilsner.
Roast Chicken Dal
A dal is traditionally a lentil side, often the accompaniment for curry. Here, combined with roast chicken (or rotisserie chicken), it moves from the side of the plate to its center for a quick lunch or an easy weeknight dinner.
Vegetarian Tikka Masala
In this vegetarian tikka masala recipe, we combine crisp tofu pieces and vegetables in a spiced tomato sauce to make a healthy and flavorful dish. If you like spicy food, increase the amount of crushed red pepper. Serve with steamed brown rice for a healthier take on a classic takeout dish.
Quick Chicken Tikka Masala
One of the most popular Indian dishes in the U.S. and the U.K., chicken tikka masala usually involves several steps including marinating and grilling the chicken before simmering in a curried tomato cream sauce. We've simplified it to a one-skillet dish and lightened it by increasing the vegetables, omitting the butter and using less cream. Serve with brown basmati rice and, for dessert, dates.