Nothing beats home-cooked food, says chef Maunika Gowardhan, whose stunning dishes showcase the country’s vibrant ingredients.
Bengali five-spice squash
Panch phoron is a spice mix used in lots of Bengali recipes. You can also cook this stir-fry with mustard oil for a slightly more pungent flavour.
Spicy cauliflower with chilli and tomato
Simple and a reminder of how, with the minimum amount of ingredients, you can get wonderful aromatic flavours in these vegetarian dishes. Ghee is commonly used in the northwest regions, but you can use vegetable oil if you prefer.
Garlic and cumin dal with tomato, chilli and coriander
Google will bring up loads of variations on how to make this. I’ve opted for this recipe because it’s one that was shared by my family friend from Delhi and is the one I keep coming back to.
Spinach and ginger chicken curry
Marrying green, leafy vegetables with meat is the hallmark of north Indian cooking. A classic palak, or spinach and chicken curry, is one of my favourite dishes served with pulao.
Slow-cooked lamb and chickpea curry
This recipe is one of my favourites. Traditionally, it is made with minced lamb but I use boneless leg of lamb for texture and depth, as well as additional bones from my butcher, to add flavour to the gravy. But you can leave the bones out if you wish.
Classic coconut fish curry
A staple in every southern Indian household because it is so simple to cook. I like to serve it with rice and cucumber salad. Ask your fishmonger to cut the fish into steaks, as they will do it expertly and ensure that the steaks still hold together with the help of a central bone.
Spicy aubergine raita
Indians use most vegetables in a raita. The cooling effect of dairy or yoghurt-based dishes is an essential part of a thali to balance the meal, while the inclusion of vegetables gives a wonderful texture. Here, roasted aubergines are cooked with cumin, peppercorn and chilli, then mixed with coriander and creamy yoghurt. You can use any vegetable for this dish, including okra, carrots or even potato.
Tandoori paneer with pickling spices, chilli and yoghurt
Charred paneer skewers coated in a marinade made with coarsely crushed spices, turmeric and creamy thick yoghurt. You’ll need some wooden or metal skewers for this dish. Any shop-bought green chilli pickle will be good for the marinade.
Need to know…
Chaat masala A powdered spice mix (including dried mango powder) with a sharp and tangy finish, often sprinkled over dishes before serving.
Jaggery A type of unrefined sugar. It can be made either from the boiled-down juice of cane sugar or the sap of date palms. It has a rich, caramelly flavour.
Kashmiri chilli powder Mild, fruity chilli powder that is revered for the bright red colour it imparts to dishes.
Panch phoron is also known as Bengali five-spice mix. You can make your own by combining 1 tbsp each of black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and storing in a clean, airtight jar.
Buy the book
Thali by Maunika Gowardhan is published by Hardie Grant, price £22. To order a copy for £18.70 until 14 November, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.