Spiced Pumpkin Lassi
For this thick and creamy pumpkin lassi from chef Rupam Bhagat of Dum in San Francisco, be sure to use a nice, healthy squash for a smooth texture and rich flavor. If you want a thinner consistency, add water gradually 1/4 cup at a time.
Indian Coconut Fish Curry
Inspired by the cooking of the Malabar coast, this fish curry is tremendously flavorful, thanks to tamarind, coconut, garlic and ginger. Kingfish (a type of mackerel) is traditional, but this recipe calls for salmon, whose richness is delectable with the complex spices.
Make the masala paste in large quantities and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week; it's great as a dry rub or marinade for fish and chicken.
Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Squash
Keralan cuisine is based on the culinary traditions of the region's Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities, and each group puts its own imprint on each recipe. This mildly sweet chicken curry (Nadan Kozhi) is in the style of Syrian-Christian Keralans; cooks from other communities omit the potatoes and squash.
Grilled Sour Cream-Marinated Shrimp
At an Indian restaurant, this dish might be cooked in a tandoor oven, but Suvir Saran loves to char the shrimp on the grill. Instead of marinating shrimp in homemade yogurt that's been drained for hours, as is traditional, Saran opts for sour cream—it's not only faster, but he thinks it's tastier.
Freshly ground whole cardamom seeds add extra flavor to this frothy sweet-and-tart yogurt drink, but preground cardamom powder is okay too.
Crispy Okra Salad
The usual Indian way of preparing okra is to cut it into rounds. But when Suvir Saran was seven, he insisted that the family cook slice the okra into wispy strips. The supercrunchy result was a hit and became a family legend; today he serves it at both of his restaurants, Dévi and Véda.
Red Fish Curry
This signature dish of Kerala features firm chunks of kingfish in a deliciously spicy and tangy sauce flavored with tamarind. As a substitute for kingfish, look for other firm-fleshed fish, like the tilapia here.
Garam Masala-Crusted Chicken with Fig Jus
Chef Sai Viswanath prepares everything from cauliflower to lobster in his wood-fired tandoor oven, which imparts a slightly smoky flavor. In contrast, for the American home cook, Viswanath developed this crispy cumin-and-coriander-spiced chicken, roasted in a Western-style oven. In another departure from Indian tradition, Viswanath cooks the bird whole instead of in pieces.
Curry-Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpeas
This Indian twist on a dish of roasted butternut squash is supereasy: After tossing the squash and chickpeas with curry and cayenne, Melissa Rubel roasts them, then drizzles the dish with a cooling cilantro-spiked yogurt sauce.
Green Bean-Chile Stir-Fry
According to Sai Viswanath, this classic southern Indian dish—spicy with chile peppers and aromatic with ginger and mustard seeds—is too good to mess with: "I've eaten it forever and the flavor memory is so persistent, I just can't change it."
Indian-Spiced Chickpea Salad with Yogurt and Herbs
Chef Jerry Traunfeld, who traveled through India last year, flavors this creamy chickpea salad with aromatic herbs and Indian spices, among them mustard, cumin and fennel seeds.
Adventurous home cooks are looking to South Asia for inspiration. One fantastic guide is Indian-cooking expert Raghavan Iyer, whose 660 Curries was published in March 2008. This curry draws its lively flavors from cumin, coriander and hot green chile.
Tandoori Pork with Gingered Mango Salad
For the first seven ingredients listed here, you can substitute a total of 1 1/2 tablespoons of tandoori spice powder.
Curry Fried Chicken
Curry powder and red-pepper flakes add an Indian-inspired twist to this quick American classic.
Traditional Indian cooks often turn to spiced yogurt marinades when using a clay oven called a tandoor. Wrap the succulent grilled salmon here in naan with cucumber salad and cilantro sprigs for a delicious, healthy sandwich.
This is a light, fresh-tasting version of the amply seasoned classic Indian dish of potatoes and cauliflower.
Curried-Chicken and Vegetable Pan Roast
"Chicken might be my overall favorite meat for feeding a crowd," Kristin Kimball says. She sometimes roasts it with Indian spices she picks up on her biannual trips to Manhattan—like the curry in this one-pan recipe of yogurt-marinated chicken with butternut squash and brussels sprouts.
Flatbreads with Cucumber Raita
Marcie Turney serves raita (a classic yogurt sauce). It's great as a snack on its own or with grilled meat.
Lassis are ubiquitous in India; the shakes, made with yogurt or buttermilk, can be sweet or salty. The Victorian-style Imperial Hotel in India's capital, New Delhi, where Peggy Markel stopped on her way to Rajasthan, has an extensive selection of lassi. This one is elegantly flavored with saffron.