How to Cook an Easy Indian Spread

Perfect for small, inconvenient and dated dorm kitchens.


Aloo Gobi, Chicken Tikka Masala, chutney and rice on a plate. (Photo by Andrew Ankersen)

By Andrew Ankersen, Contributing Writer

A quick disclaimer before we get to cooking: these recipes originally come from Mrs. Balbeer, my lovely Indian cooking teacher from my years living in Thailand. So credit where credit is due, though I have slightly modified these recipes to make them more dorm-friendly.

The two main dishes are Aloo Gobi — a dry potato and cauliflower curry from the Indian subcontinent — and Chicken Tikka Masala — a wet curry with Punjabi origins but likely turned into its current form in Scotland.

All of the following can be bought at any decent grocery store, but if you want high-quality spices at really low prices, Little India at 385 3rd Ave. is the place for you. Just be warned that you will have to buy things in semi-bulk.


-One chicken breast, or thigh

-One onion

-One small potato

-One small head of cauliflower

-Plain yogurt

-Crushed tomato


-One bunch of cilantro

-Curry powder or:

  • Ground ginger
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Nigella seeds
  • Garam Masala
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt


Mix together half a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and garam masala, and a quarter teaspoon each of turmeric, pepper, cayenne, nigella seeds, garlic powder, salt and ginger. Or for quicker preparation, just use pre-made curry powder, though I seriously recommend making your own — you can taste the difference.

Cut a chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl with two tablespoons of yogurt and half the curry powder.  The longer you leave the chicken to marinate the better, but I wouldn’t leave it for less than an hour or more than 24.

While the chicken is marinating, dice the onion and cut the cauliflower and the potato into small cubes.

After letting your chicken marinate, heat up a pan with two tablespoons of oil. Allow the oil to heat up and add half the onions. When the onions have softened, add the chicken and fry for five minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned, then add half a can of crushed tomato. Turn the heat to low and stir occasionally while working on the rest of the meal.

As the chicken stews, put half a cup of rice, one and a half cups of water, a sprinkling of turmeric, some chopped coriander and a pinch of salt into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and leave off the heat while the rest of the meal cooks.

Next, put a pan on high heat with three tablespoons of oil. Allow the oil to heat up and then add the chopped potato, finely diced half onion and chopped cauliflower. Add the rest of the curry powder and stir occasionally for five minutes or until the onion softens and the potato browns slightly, then add a quarter cup of water and cook until the potatoes are soft and the curry is dry — you may need to add a bit more water as it cooks.

Finally, while both curries and the rice are cooking, cut the remaining cilantro as small as possible — you literally can’t mince this too finely — and put it in a bowl with a quarter cup of yogurt, a splash of water, a pinch of salt and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand.  

When the potatoes and cauliflower are finished cooking, serve a helping of each dish together.