The 10 Best Indian Cookbook Titles to Get You Started
Hungry for some delicious Indian food? Skip the takeout! We're recommending the best Indian cookbooks for beginners. While waiting for your new cookbook to be delivered, learn how to make naan!
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by Sanjeev Kapoor
If Indians have a favorite cooking show, it’s probably Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Khana Khazana.” The celebrity chef brought his Indian recipes to millions of TV screens, and used his expertise to create this classic cookbook.
Why it made our list: This cookbook is aimed at a North American audience, with ingredients and measurements that are easy to understand. Plus, it includes flavors from across the country and for all seasons, ranging from spicy street food like the much-loved samosa to warming and hearty winter shorbas, or stews.
by Krishna Dutta
Thanks to a large vegetarian population, lentils, also known as dal, are one of the most common sources of protein in India. The Dal Cookbook explains how lentils are also used in South Indian dosas (a pancake made with rice and black gram), dhokla (baked cakes made from rice and split chickpeas) and a variety of other snacks and side dishes.
Why it made our list: Using a variety of seasonings and spices, this should be your go-to cookbook for making dal. It has at least 50 recipes covering several regions and cuisines, and is a great resource for vegetarians or anyone looking to cut down on sugar or meat.
by Monisha Bharadwaj
India’s cooking is influenced heavily by its tradition of Ayurveda, a system that sees food as medicine. The Indian Cooking Course touches upon those principles and takes a health-conscious approach to the wide variety of Indian cooking.
Why it made our list: Divided into sections such as Rice, Breads, Meat, Seafood, Poultry, Eggs and more, this segmented cookbook gives insights into the ingredients and techniques used in each dish. With 300 recipes to choose from, you can re-create your favorite takeout dishes at home or take a crack at some new ones!
by Urvashi Pitre
While manual pressure cookers are a common staple in Indian households, you might find some reluctant to use an Instant Pot, a fairly recent innovation that makes for simplified recipes across many cuisines. However, most are more than happy to cut down on long cooking times with the recipes outlined in this cookbook made for the modern-day home cook.
Why it made our list: With uncomplicated ingredient lists, recognizable spices and simplified cooking techniques, this cookbook breaks down complex dishes with ease. Traditional Indian recipes like dals and curries come together in less than 30 minutes, giving you all the flavor of the cuisine with little effort.
by Meera Sodha
Packed with fresh, simple recipes that the author has often sourced from her own family, this eclectic cookbook covers Indian recipes perfect for dinner, savory and spicy street food and snacks with a twist. With more than 130 recipes, there’s something for everyone in here.
Why it made our list: The dishes are great for quick and easy weeknight dinners, and sometimes veer off the beaten track with additions like Beet and Feta Samosa and Mango, Passion Fruit and Lime Jell-O. Don’t forget to accompany these with a cup of chai.
by Priya Krishna
We’re suckers for food that infuses Indian flavors into more familiar fare, like this Tandoori Spiced Chicken Pita Pizza. True to its name, this fusion cookbook is full of recipes that work on this principle. Thanks to that background, this can work as a great starting point for those just starting their journey into Indian cooking, or looking to experiment!
Why it made our list: This book is, in one word, fun. It takes the flavors of authentic Indian dishes and combines them with new ingredients you’d never think of using. In its pages, you’ll find dishes like Saag Feta (a truly delicious take on Saag Paneer) and Roti Pizza, developed by the author’s mother and perfected here. Bonus: the great illustrations by Desi pop artist Maria Qamar.
by S. Abbas Raza
If you’re looking for simple food, what better place to start than a book aimed at students? While it was made for homesick South Asian students, this beginner-friendly cookbook is a great start for anyone who wants a basic guide to all the flavorful, spicy dishes common to North India and Pakistan.
Why it made our list: This book goes beyond recipes, with lists of ingredients and spices (and information on where to get them), plus colorful photographs so you know what each dish looks like.
by Ruta Kahate
Another one made for a time-crunch, this brilliant cookbook uses traditional Indian flavors at its heart, but combines them with new ingredients for a fresh take on the cuisine. With dishes like Beet Raita with Cilantro (a ridiculously delicious spiced yogurt concoction), this is the perfect start for those who don’t want to take too many trips to the Indian store just yet.
Why it made our list: This book isn’t just full of great recipes—it’s also a lighthearted read full of extra information. Plus, it’s got “exotic” substitutions for anyone looking to experiment with a little extra zing in their dishes.
by Alamelu Vairavan
Another blend of traditional and brand-new, this cookbook shares its name with the author’s PBS TV show. This one favors South Indian cooking, with recipes that include spicy Chettinad flavors, seafood, sambhar and chutneys from across the region.
Why it made our list: The recipes are carefully tailored to be low-calorie and low-fat without compromising on flavor. While the cookbook has a focus on nutritious vegetarian offerings like Sweet Potato Quinoa Soup and Lentil Crumble with Coconut, you’ll find a number of delicious meat dishes like the Chettinand Chicken Masala within its pages.
by Madhur Jaffrey
Great Britain might have the monarch, but when it comes to South Asian cooking, everyone bows to cookbook and cooking show queen Madhur Jaffrey. The culinary queen has written dozens of books covering Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cooking, and this deftly written cookbook is the perfect introduction to South Asian curries.
Why it made our list: Curry Easy chooses to use the most easily available spices and ingredients, making this accessible cookbook a great introduction to the wide variety of flavors from the subcontinent. With canned coconut milk and other time-saving tricks, you’ll be digging into Spicy Prawn Curry from Goa and Sri Lankan Beef Stew in no time at all.