Indian Food 101

Indian food and Indian restaurants are common in many parts of the world, but in my pocket the world seems to be few and far between. I realized that many Americans may not be used to Indian food; what to order in an Indian restaurant or the correct way to eat Indian food. Since I grew up eating Indian food, it’s natural for me to break up my naan and soak up the delicious curry. This is why I wanted to put together a short article outlining some common Indian dishes and what you may want to order in an Indian restaurant. Hope this encourages you to try Indian food.

It will most likely start with courtesy poppadoms. They are like very thin cookies, but much larger. There are usually 3 accompanying sauces or chutneys poppadoms, a lime green sauce made with spicy coriander, a dark brown sauce that is very sweet (save a bit for later, I’ll tell you why in a moment), and a mango chutney that is very good but quite spicy.


Most likely you will see Samosas on a snack menu in Indian restaurants. These are a safe option as they are full of flavor but not spicy. They are triangular cakes that are filled with potatoes, peas, and other vegetables. The sweet brown hot sauce I told you to keep goes great with these.

Main courses:

Tandoori: Tandoori is always a safe option. This is no a hot and spicy dish at all. It also does not have thick sauce. It is simply cooked in a clay oven known as Tandoori, hence the name. Don’t be scared by the color. It will come out with a red color especially if you order the chicken. It looks a little weird but it tastes great.

Biryani: (Pronounced beer-e-ani) Think of Biryani as the Indian version of Chinese fried rice. It is rice with vegetables (usually with raisins) with the meat of your choice. Lamb Biryani is really good. It really goes well with any meat. I probably wouldn’t recommend getting Biryani with shrimp. Again, this is another safe option, as it will not be a spicy dish.

Curry: This is really a thick sauce filled with cumin, garlic, tamarind, and a ton of other flavorful spices made to order. Curry is by far the best known Indian dish. I like it with beef, lamb, chicken, or shrimp.

seasoning: It is a creamy tomato sauce that is very tasty. It’s not usually too spicy, but you should ask just to be sure. One of my favorites at the Indian restaurant is Chicken Tikka Masala. In fact, I read somewhere that Chicken Tikka Masala is the number one most ordered dish in England. Having a large Indian population, Indian restaurants seem to appear everywhere in England. In fact, Indian food is all I ever want to eat when I go to England.

Vindaloo: (Pronounced Vind-aloo) HOT HOT HOT !! This is one of the hottest dishes you can order. Again, it is made with various spices like curry, but it is very spicy. In fact, it’s so hot that I can’t eat and enjoy it. For my palate, the pepper dominates any other flavor and I cannot enjoy the dish. WARNING: This dish is not for a virgin Indian meal.

These dishes are typically accompanied by basmati (Indian white rice). But you’re missing out if you don’t order some delicious nann (pancakes) to eat with your curry. Part of the experience of eating Indian food is using your hands to soak up the sauce with the naan.

Although there are several types of naan, I recommend starting with something simple like plain nann or garlic. Usually you get 2 pieces, which is a lot of grace for 1 person. You may want to consider 2 orders for 2 and if there are leftovers left, they are great for breakfast in the morning.

Indian restaurants do not usually offer any side of vegetables with the main dishes. This is probably because many Indians are vegetarians, which is why vegetable starters are a main dish on their own. Indian curries tend to have very rich sauces and, along with rice and naan, they will fill you up quickly. But if you think it is necessary to order a vegetable, I recommend something with aloo (potato) or baigon (aubergine).

For drinks, Indian beer pairs well with Indian food. I usually enjoy a Taj Mahal with my food. If beer isn’t your thing, I recommend you try a Mango Lassi. It is a sweet and fruity drink that is like having a smoothie with dinner.

If you can still have dessert after your hearty meal, a good option is Kulfi. This is Indian ice cream, which generally comes in various flavors, with two common flavors being mango and pistachio.

Well, there you have it! This should give you enough information to be confident enough to try Indian food.

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