Years ago I worked for a family from India. One of the things I have always been grateful for about that experience was learning so much about Indian cuisine and cooking. Many people think that Indian food is complicated and time-consuming, and many Indian dishes are just that and quite worth it, but there are some very simple dishes to be cooked as well.
As with all food, the fresher the better, but you can easily mix up a curry (or masala) that can be added to a variety of meats, grains, and vegetables for a lovely Indianesque meal any night of the week.
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. ground turmeric
3 Tbsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. curry powder (don't skimp or buy cheap curry)
1 Tbsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground ginger (again, don't buy cheap)
2 tsp. anise seeds, crushed
8-10 cardamom pods, crushed
Simply add all to a lidded container or jar and shake to combine.
On fish, tofu, or poultry:
Drizzle the meat in lemon juice, then rub in curry. Seal tightly and refrigerate several hours. Grill, pan-fry, or bake.
Stir curry into plain yogurt and coat your meat. Seal tightly and refrigerate several hours. Grill, pan-fry, or bake.
Rinse and soak 1 c. Basmati rice for 30 minutes. Drain.
Chop 1 medium onion and 3 cloves garlic. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan and saute onions and garlic. When softened, stir in rice and toast gently for 3-5 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbsp. curry and 1 tsp. dry cilantro. You can also add nuts, fruit, dry fruit, and vegetables. Add 1 c. water or chicken/veg stock. Bring to boil. Cover tightly and simmer 45+ minutes until water is soaked up and rice is soft.
Follow directions above for rice up to toasting. Add in cooked garbanzo beans, cauliflower, peas, diced potatoes, diced bell pepper, etc. Finish rice-cooking process. Stir in 2 c. sliced fresh spinach and serve. Stir in plain yogurt for a creamy richness if desired.