11 Old-School Indian Recipes Your Grandma Used to Make

We rely on Indian takeout pretty often—sometimes a spicy curry delivered straight to our door is the only cure for a bad day. But if you grew up with an Indian nani, you know how good the real thing can be. Nothing beats her chicken biryani and freshly baked naan, but these recipes get us pretty close.

24 Old-School Recipes Your Italian Grandma Used to Make

1. Chana Masala

Nani’s chana masala always tasted like it has been simmering on the stove all day. But this version is ready in 30 minutes (and uses only one pot!), which means you can get grandma-level comfort on a weeknight timeline.

2. Aloo Gobi

Serve this super simple dish of spiced cauliflower and potatoes as a hearty side. Or make a pot of fluffy basmati rice and some cucumber raita, and your whole dinner is done.

3. Chicken Biryani

It seems like every culture has a chicken-and-rice dish, but we’re partial to our nani’s biryani.  Full of ginger, garlic and a little chili pepper, it’s truly comfort in a bowl.

4. Aloo Tikki

We always loved listening to our nani’s stories of buying these fried mashed potato cakes from street carts in India. Now we make them for parties, with yogurt and chutney on the side.


indian grandma recipes skillet lamb vindaloo
The Defined Dish

5. Skillet Lamb Vindaloo

This spicy one-skillet meal is full of warming spices like cloves, cardamom and curry powder.  We love it with lamb, but feel free to substitute chicken or beef if you prefer. 

Get the recipe

6. Dal Makhani

There was almost always some kind of dal, or lentil stew, on our nani’s table. But slow-simmering dal makhani, made with black lentils, butter and cream, was reserved for special occasions. This version is a little faster and a lot healthier, making it fantastic for an everyday dinner. 

7. Instant Pot Butter Chicken

Fun fact: Indian grandmas have been using pressure cookers for generations. But now that the Instant Pot is a must-have gadget, we’re excited to put it to use making all of her recipes—especially this creamy, totally addictive chicken.

8. Palak Paneer

We’re on board with any dish where cheese is the main ingredient. In this classic combination, it’s lightly fried and served with a creamy spinach sauce. 

9. Raita

Our nani was an expert at spicy curries, but she also always served a bowl of creamy, cucumber-yogurt raita to cool things down. We love this with any spicy dish, but it’s also great as a dip for veggies or as a condiment on sandwiches.

10. Easy Masala Chai

We’re pretty sure the cure to all of life’s problems is a cup of our nani’s milky masala chai. This version is dairy-free (but feel free to use your favorite milk or milk substitute) and sweetened with just a little bit of maple syrup.

11. Homemade Naan

Making bread from scratch—especially a flaky, buttery one like naan—always seemed a bit above our pay grade. But it actually couldn’t be easier and cooks in minutes in a cast-iron pan on top of the stove. We’re officially throwing all of our takeout menus in the trash.