10 Indian Dishes Perfect For Winter


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

When the weather gets cold, I’m all in for warm flavors and hot (temperature) foods; here are some of my favorite Indian dishes that I look forward to. There are fragrant stews with legumes and curries, stuffed flatbreads, and even butter chicken on the menu.

Goan Kheema/Mince

Growing up in a Goan household, mince or kheema was a frequent dish made at least once during the week. I suspect its popularity lay in the fact that it was more economical to purchase and quick to prepare. There are many regional variations of kheema, and the Goan version varies distinctly in its use of vinegar and ground cloves. Mince was eaten directly with soft bread rolls called paos or rice.

Chana Masala (Dry Version)

This is a very simple recipe that I use at home to make channa masala. There are no potatoes or tomatoes in this version. Unlike the more common version where chickpeas sit in a broth, this channa masala is served “dry”. Spices give this dish its character. I use an electric pressure cooker to cook the chickpeas quickly but you can do this without, it will take a little longer so keep any eye on the texture of the chickpea. Canned chickpeas can also be used here which will eliminate the cooking step. Plain yogurt is my favorite choice of accompaniment with this dish and parathas or plain rice.

green goddess rassam

Okay, it doesn’t look green, nor is this an “authentic” rassam recipe. However, this recipe is inspired by both the original Green Goddess recipe of the San Francisco hotel, The Palace, and the rassam recipes of Southern India. This is a wonderfully light dish to serve and celebrate the rich fragrance of fresh herbs. Rassams are meant to be hot and spicy, the quantity of black pepper isn’t an error, and neither is the addition of the green chilli. Serve with plain steamed rice to enjoy. Crushed tortilla chips and crispy fried onions also work great as a garnish in a pinch.

rajma/kidney bean stew

Rajma is Indian comfort food, and a warm, simmering pot of these red kidney beans on the stove is a treat on a cool day. I love to eat it with plain rice or a flatbread like roti, but you can eat it with naan, too. I prefer to cook the kidney beans and the sauce base separately because it makes things much easier. You can also use canned beans and make this shorter.  

Aloo Parathas (Parathas filled with Spiced Potatoes

I love parathas, the flaky flat breads eaten in India and many other parts of Southeast Asia, but the stuffed ones are my favorites. It doesn’t matter if they’re stuffed with a mixture of spiced mashed potatoes, as in the recipe for aloo paratha I’m providing here, or they’re stuffed with mixed vegetables or shredded cheese;

Vegetable Biryani

A biryani is meant to be extravagant. Brightly colored, intoxicatingly aromatic, and rich with flavor, biryani is often served at celebrations, and this is true not only of biryanis made with meat, like the lamb biryani I’ve written about previously, but also of vegetable biryanis, like the recipe below. Vegetable biryanis take far less time to

Achari Lamb/Lamb with Indian Pickling Spices

Achari refers to the combination of fragrant spices used to make Indian pickles (achars) that, in this recipe, imparts their flavor to a large American lamb shoulder. As the lamb slowly cooks with the pickling spices, it falls apart and creates a rich stew that’s divinely aromatic, keeping you and your guests wanting more. I love eating this with a bowl of warm steamed rice or roti and a big spoonful of plain yogurt. Sometimes, I’ll stir 1 to 2 Tablespoons of sweet lime pickle (Mother’s Recipe) or chopped preserved lemons into the stew after cooking, just for extra zing.

A Guide to Dals and a Recipe for Pumpkin Baby Kale Dal

This fall-inspired dal is hearty and filled with satisfying flavors and textures from the nuggets of chunky pumpkin and tender soft leaves of baby kale with split pigeon peas that are cooked until they fall apart. The Indian technique of tadka is applied to create the final fragrant finish. Don’t miss out on the curry leaves, you can find them at Indian grocery stores, online, and if you’re lucky grow your own plant at home!

Chicken Vindaloo

Vindaloo is an iconic dish in Goan cuisine, often served on holidays, Christmas, Easter, and special occasions. The dish is famous for its bright red color, rich combination of aromatic spices, and generous use of vinegar. While pork is the traditional choice of meat used to make vindaloo, chicken also works well. In this version, I use bone-in chicken, but if preferred, you can also prepare this with boneless chicken. Unlike the pork version, this vindaloo does not need to sit in the refrigerator for several weeks and can be eaten the day it’s prepared. Personally, I prefer leaving it in the refrigerator for a day to help the flavors come together.

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is one of the most famous dishes associated with Indian restaurants, and if you have a craving, this is the recipe for you. Butter chicken uses tandoori chicken cooked in a tandoor (a type of Indian oven) that gives the chicken and, subsequently, a wonderful smoky flavor. To replicate the smokiness, I roast the chicken in the oven and then broil it quickly. Serve this fragrant chicken dish with its decadent fiery red velvety sauce with kachumber salad, rice, or flatbread like naan.

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