A Guide to Indian Food
It’s a very common misconception that Indian food consists only of “curry.” The cuisine bestows your palate with loads of appetizers, breads, meals, beverages, desserts, and a lot more. It also provides you with lots of nutrients to keep you fit. Like dal is full of proteins, veggies load you up with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, curd is rich in calcium, and roti or Indian bread gives you complex carbohydrates.
Let 5-Minute Crafts also guide you through a range of dishes to not make you miss out on the good bits next time you’re in an Indian restaurant.
- Bhajjis: Or pakoras or fritters are deep-fried piece of chickpea batter and is served with chutney, aka spicy condiments. There are varieties of pakoras you can try like corn pakora, cabbage pakora, onion pakora, paneer pakora, vegetable pakora, and a lot more.
- Samosa: These are patties stuffed with peas, potatoes, and spices. Later, deep-fried until crispy and flaky.
- Vada pav: This appetizer is mostly a spicier vegetarian sider that consists of deep-fried dumplings or potato flattened patties sandwiched between a dinner roll.
- Roti: This bread is a staple in Indian homes. It’s made with whole wheat flour, which is further kneaded into a dough, then made into small circles and cooked on an Indian skillet or tava on the gas stove. It’s served with dal or curries.
- Paratha: Parathas are layered flatbreads that are panfried. These are also made with whole wheat flour, but ghee or oil is smeared between the dough layers while rolling them. There are many varieties of parathas like Aloo parathas, gobi paratha, paneer paratha, etc. You can serve them with a pickle or yogurt on the side.
- Naan: This is also made from wheat flour dough where yeast or yogurt is added to it to allow it to rise. Then flatbreads are made from the dough and are eventually cooked in an Indian oven known as a tandoor.
- Poori: Poori is a deep-fried flatbread also made from wheat flour and is served with aloo (potato) or chana masala (chickpea) curry.
- Chicken tikka masala: This dish is claimed as the national dish of Britain, where tandoori chicken is prepared first by marinating the chicken in spicy yogurt sauce and then further cooked in a clay oven aka a tandoor until the dish becomes smoky and juicy. Then this tandoori chicken is simmered in a sauce made of tomatoes, onion, and cream.
- Chana masala: Chana stands for chickpeas and masala stands for spices, meaning boiled chickpeas are cooked in a tomato onion gravy. To give this dish more flavor and a deeper hue, over-toasted spices are added. You can serve them with Bhatura (soft, flaky flatbread) or Kulcha (pillowy bread)
- Palak Paneer or Saag Paneer: Here the palak or spinach is finely cooked with lots of spices and then lots of paneer or Indian cheese is added to the mix.
- Dal: Dal or lentils in Indian cuisine refer to all the lentil soups. Usually, these lentils are mixed in water with lots of spices and then cooked thoroughly for flavor and taste. There are lots of dals to try like Dal Makhani, Chana Dal, Dhaba-style Dal, etc.
- Biryani: This dish is made up of soft, long basmati rice, small and tender meat chunks, layered spices, whole spices, and lots of ghee or clarified butter. There are countless variations of biryani, you can even try its vegetarian versions too. Garnish the dish with raisins and gold foil on top.
- Chai: Chai means tea in Hindi, where water and milk are mixed in a certain ratio, and sugar and black tea are added together later. But when you add spices to this mixture, it becomes a masala chai. The latter is a combination of cardamom, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon brewed in this beverage.
- Lassi: This beverage is made of yogurt or curd thinned with milk or water and then sweeteners like sugar are added to it for more flavors. Nowadays, lots of fresh herbs, spices, fruits, and floral essences are mixed in this beverage.
- Masala Chaas: This is similar to lassi but Chaas has a higher liquid consistency and a spicier taste. It is also called spiced buttermilk and consists of water and a number of spices. You can also add coriander leaves and mint to it.
- Nimbu pani: Or shikanji is lemonade that is mixed with sugar, coarse salt, and powdered cumin or jeera. It’s available in both sweet and salty tastes and is widely consumed in summers.
- Gulab Jamun: This is the king of all Indian desserts. Here the milk solids are crushed into a powder and then combined with milk in a way that it is further kneaded into a dough. Small balls are made out of that dough and then they’re deep-fried in sugar syrup to make them more soft and delicious.
- Halwa: This is a pudding made from multiple flours like semolina, root vegetables, wheat flour, and chickpea flour. Then it is further mixed with sugar, ghee, milk, or water, and then cooked thoroughly. And from the same you get, Gajar (carrot) Halwa, Sooji (semolina) Halwa, Sohan (caramelized) Halwa, and so much more.
- Barfi: It’s a thick dessert made from milk, ghee, and sugar. The word Barfi means snow in Persian, meaning, it ideally qualifies to be a winter dessert. Before the barfi is made, its batter has to be thickened, so that it can be further cooled down and then cut into smaller pieces. There are many varieties of barfi like Kaju Barfi, Pista Barfi, Besan Barfi, Almond Barfi, Doodh Peda, and a lot more.