Drop that takeout menu: making homemade Indian food isn’t just about getting dinner on the table—it’s about exploring one of the world’s most exciting cuisines.

As a whole, Indian cuisine is spice-forward and colorful—some of our favorite spicy recipes come from the subcontinent—which is why it’s so well-loved all over the world, from the United Kingdom, which formerly colonized the country, to South Africa, which is home to a large population of Indian expats.

But Indian cuisine, like its culture, is hardly a monolithic entity: there are over 100 languages spoken and a comparable diversity in cooking, which hinges on geographical variation. The north of the country relies more on wheat, while the south of the country uses rice. On the coasts, find incredible fish dishes, oft laced with coconut milk.

A world unto its own, Indian cuisine is one worth getting to know. From Indian mains to the desserts (and how could we forget the dosas), here are the essential Indian recipes to make today.

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