Since starting this blog, the most frequently asked email questions I get are almost always related to Indian food – easy dishes to make, what spices to use for particular dishes, and the best things to order at Indian restaurants. It’s nice to read about people venturing out and trying Indian food, both at home and at restaurants. Makes me happy!
While my knowledge is still pretty limited with regard to the first two categories (continuing to work on it!), I think I have a pretty good handle on the whole eating at Indian restaurants thing. In fact, a while back, I wrote a guest post for Laura talking about this very topic. Over the past few months, I’ve seen a growing interest in Indian cuisine and the art of Indian cooking (garam masala anyone?!). So I thought I would resurrect that guest post and share it with my readers. In my (very humble) opinion, it contains some pretty helpful nuggets of information!
When Vishnu and I first started dating, I found his stories about visiting South India really interesting. Mainly because his experiences were so different from my own. You see, depending on where you live/visit, the language, the food, and sometimes even the customs can vary. Language and food being the biggest differentiators.
I’ve found that in the US, people equate Indian food with dishes from North India (for the most part). While all the food is delicious, specialties from the North just seem to be more commonplace. And I can totally see why – it’s Indian comfort food at its finest…creamy sauces, fluffy bread, etc. So this post is about just that – a North Indian menu.
Dining at an Indian restaurant can be daunting… even for an Indian, so I’m going to do my best to walk you through some of the more common words you’ll find on most any menu. After reading this post, you’ll be ready to take on any North Indian restaurant and have an awesome experience!
Let’s get started…
Murg/Murgh – Chicken
Aloo – Potato
Mutter – Peas
Palak – Spinach
Chole/Channa – Chickpeas
Malai – Cream
Ghee – Clarified butter
Paneer – Curd cheese (absolutely delicious)
Masala – A spice mix that can range from mild to extremely spicy
Garam masala – A popular spice blend that includes black and white peppercorn, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and a bunch of other things.
Paneer (essentially, pressed cottage cheese) – YUM!
Naan – Soft, thick Indian bread
Chapati/Roti – Thin, tortilla like bread usually made with wheat flour
Bhatura – Large, soft, puffy deep fried bread usually eaten with Channa Masala (chickpeas in a spicy masala sauce). The smaller version is called a puri.
What’s better than a warm, buttery piece of naan? Nothing.
Pakoras – Vegetables (cauliflower, onion, potato, chilies) coated in a thick batter and deep fried until golden brown.
Tikka – Tikka means chunks. For example, chicken tikka is chunks of chicken marinated in a yogurt sauce and cooked in the tandoor. Paneer tikka is a great option for vegetarians.
Papad – A crunchy and spicy Indian tortilla generally eaten as an appetizer or alongside the main dish.
Tikkis – Cutlets made from mashed up vegetables. My favorite way to eat tikkis is in a chickpea stew.
Kadai – A yogurt based curry that includes onions, tomatoes, and bell pepper.
Korma – A creamy yogurt based sauce made with cream, nuts, and coconut milk.
Saag – Leafy greens cooked in masalas.
Makhani – A sauce where tomatoes are the stars of the show and butter and cream are the sidekicks.
Malai – A cream based sauce also made with onions, garlic, ginger, and garam masala.
Jalfrezi – A sauce made by frying all the ingredients and using little cream to thicken everything up.
Vindaloo – A spicy sauce made with lots of red chilies, cinnamon, cumin, and vinegar.
My favorite dishes:
Paneer Makhani – Cheese cooked in a tomato, butter, and cream sauce.
Navratna Korma – Big patties made with nuts, cheese, and an assortment of veggies cooked in a korma cream sauce.
Palak Paneer – A mildly flavored dish made with a spinach sauce and cheese.
Paneer Makhani. Order it. You’ll be happy you did.
This post isn’t all inclusive, but I think it covers the main elements. The next thing on my list…tackling the South, especially now that I’m an honorary South Indian (by marriage)! My goal is to be able to make dosas (my favorite) at home!
Have a great Monday!
Indian food – love it, hate it, never tried it? Favorite dish?