Eating Indian for the first time? Or, are you the person that only orders Chicken Tikka Masala? The more we’ve questioned people, the more we found out that it wasn’t that they don’t like other Indian dishes; they feel intimidated by the names and don’t understand them.
The dishes are usually named after the main components or where they come from. But given that fact, if you don’t understand the language, it can be confusing.
Eating Indian for the first time.
So consider this our effort to make things right. Here’s a rundown of what you commonly find on a typical Indian restaurant menu. Next time you go to your favourite Indian restaurant to enjoy a meal, use this guide to the most popular Indian dishes and order something outside your comfort zone. There’s a good chance you will be surprised to know how much goodness you were missing out on! Especially if you’re ‘Eating Indian for the first time?’
Being India’s foodie country, there’s a meal planned around every time of the day and food available on every corner.
Bhajji: Bhajji (or Pakoras) are crispy deep-fried dollops of spicy chickpea batter served with spicy condiments called chutney.
Samosa: Another popular Indian street food is the samosa. Samosas contain a small amount of spicy potato or meat filling wrapped in dough and deep-fried until crispy and flaky.
Bread in India is primarily flatbreads. The way they are cooked or the type of flour used to make them determines what they are called.
Naan: Naan is one of the most popular Indian flatbreads. To make a naan, wheat flour dough is prepared either by allowing it to rise using yeast or by adding yoghurt to the dough. That dough is then rolled into flatbreads and cooked in an Indian tandoor oven.
Roti: Naan is famous on Indian restaurant menus, but roti is a staple in Indian homes. Roti is a no-fuss Indian bread, typically made with whole wheat flour kneaded into a soft dough, then rolled into thin circles and cooked on a Tava (Indian skillet) on the stovetop.
Tikka Masala: Tikka is the Hindi term for “small chunks,” Masala means a spice blend. So when small chunks of anything, like chicken, are cooked in a sauce with a particular spice blend, it is called Chicken Tikka Masala. In the same way, when paneer comes to the play, it is called Paneer Tikka Masala. The world-famous sauce used in Tikka masala is mainly tomato-based, with some richness added by cream or thick yogurt.
Chana Masala: Chana is the Hindi name for chickpeas. Chana masala is simply chickpeas cooked in an onion, ginger, and garlic-based sauce with Garam Masala added to it. This is a popular North Indian curry; it’s spicy and packs a punch.
Saag Paneer: Saag is simply the Hindi name for leafy green vegetables. But this particular dish refers to a delicious curry cooking spinach with spices and adding diced paneer (an Indian cheese) to the dish. At some Indian restaurants, you can also find this dish under the name of Palak Paneer, where palak is the Hindi word for spinach.
Korma: Korma is a preparation where the protein is cooked with a yogurt-based sauce flavoured with ginger and garlic. Adding fried onion gives it a hint of sweetness and thickens the sauce.
Rogan josh: This dish hails from the beautiful northern state of India, Kashmir. This dish is traditionally cooked with lamb or goat with its roots in Persian cuisine. Rogan josh consists of pieces of lamb or mutton braised with a gravy flavoured with garlic, ginger and aromatic spices (cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, and cinnamon), and some versions incorporate onions or yogurt.
Vindaloo: When the Portuguese came to India and established their colony in Goa, they also brought with them their cuisine. And when that Portuguese food married with Indian flavours, several good things happened. Vindaloo curry is one of the products of that. Fiery and flavorful, Vindaloo is traditionally made with pork marinated in wine vinegar and garlic.
Dal: Dal is the Hindi name for lentils, and it broadly refers to all lentil soups in Indian cuisine. Typically, the lentils are mixed with water, turmeric, and salt and then cooked to perfection.
Biryani: A trendy Indian rice dish with its roots in the Mughal empire in India, Biryani is a rice dish prepared with several layers of rice, some spiced meat, paneer or vegetables and some added richness with ghee or yogurt and then finally slow-cooked to perfection. There are a variety of options when it comes to Biryani.
Eating Indian for the first time?
Here in Barrie, one of the very best places to be introduced to all that is Indian is at the Tandoori Kingdom on Blake Street. It’s a ‘ foodies ‘ dream with an incredible menu and staff that will answer any questions. Enjoy a meal there over the holiday weekend. You’ll be glad you did.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Stephen Elliott
Leave us a comment telling us what your favourite Indian dish is!