We all know India for its spices, flavours and curries, but when you see a menu what are you actually ordering, and what new words and foods can be tried after a little knowledge from someone who has actually been and ate it all (all for research ofcourse)
One of the top misconceptions I had before coming to India was the food was going to be so spicy I would be eating bread for 4 weeks – that was it. However I soon found out that the spice is actually the FLAVOUR of the curry, unlike in the Western world where SPICE is the heat! So I just made sure I went for curries with no Chilli ingredients and was fine the whole time, infact I didn’t get bored of the food at all, always craving the next meal (while eating the previous :))
The second misconception is Delhi Belly, now I wont pretend it isn’t real, even the locals can get it, but clean your hands, don’t drink the water here, and don’t go to Local Street food with open oil stoves (they sometimes are known to reheat oil not good!) is the key to success! You see the street food venders have no answers if the oil is a few days old they are using, or how long the food as been there including fruit, so just be warey!
Paratha – A wheat bases bread, popular as snack as well a common breakfast dish, with options of adding potato, garlic or onions into them, they are a filling start to the morning. I bought this at every opportunity!
Dosi – Popular in South India, a bread almost like a crepe, normally served with a Dal soup on the side, with tones of different fillings (my favourite was the paneer (cottage cheese gravy))
Rada – A savoury doughnut, made from lentils, often with a sweet taste to it, another Rada is almost falafel like in a ball, it’s a Dall Rada
Scrambled egg – Not a normal scrambled egg, but one which is mixed with spices, vegetables and creates a tasty healthy morning dish with some bread or on its own.
Aloo – Potato, the ingredient for A LOT of the curries and food here
Paneer – Cottage cheese cubes – MY FAVOURITE – A must try in any scenario, paratha, curry, pizza etc
Mutter – Peas often within the curries
Mutton – Sheep/ Goat meat, a very popular meat in India to eat and try
Masala – A curry mix popular in the Chai teas
Ochra – A delicious locally grown green vegetable in Rajasthan
Samosa – Deep fried bread with different ingredients, popular on the the streets as a snack
Kerachi – Very much like a Samosa but larger, often includes potatoes, vegetables and spices … therefore better because more to eat!
Thali – Reminded me of my school dinners at first due to the comprtment trays you are given when served. Its also the perfect dish for someone who doesn’t like their d=food touching each of the others. But in all seriousness this the a very traditionbnal dish in India and also Nepal. For dinner guests they are served first, and once the host knows what the geust is eating a lot of likes, will refill till the pans are empty! So clever, so simple, so delicious!
Kofta – Potatoe dumpling with different ingredients depending on the dishes, I tried Paneer Kofta and vegetable Kofta, both beautiful flavours and always served with a medi
Biriyani – Known in the western world, but wins in the Indian world too, fish, meat, vegetable options cooked with spices within the rice, for an even flavour every mouth full. I tried a fish Biriyani in Goa! Highly recommend.
Chettinad – Another curry mainly served with fish, this one is medium/ high spice, again from the colour and the chillis on the top you will know pretty quickly, I tried one in Varkala, South India, feeling cocky about how I was doing with the spices here. I needed to order yoghurt half way through!
Dal Pachmel – A rich Dal dish with 4 different types of coloured Lentils, a dark green colour, amazing flavours.
Dahi Puchka– Another popular fast food for the locals, with a lot of yoghurt placed over the top with mint for a cooling quick meal during the day of wandering or working. With a circular bread to keep the filling inside
Curry – Also mentioned a lot as gravy in India, this is the main base for any Indian dish, with all the flavours being based around the paste, from sweet spices, to the chilli spices it all goes into the Curry gravy for the final flavour… The gravy is NOT BISTO!
Tikka – I type of Spice mixture, with small minimum chillis to add a small bit of heat, very popular in the western world
Xacuti – A curry found in the South of India, with delicious spices and flavour, normally a dark brown colour. Very often mentioned along with fish based meat
Varutharachathu – A curry normally served with Fish in the South of India, with flavour and just the right amount of mild/ mid heat to it. Southern India is famous for this. I had the best Tuna V of my life at Oceanos, in Fort Kochi, even though it was my first in Kochi, my mouth still waters from thinking about it!
Korma – Like in the Westernized world, Korma is not spicey, however it has so much more flavour, with a real sweet taste to the ones I have had with different dishes.
Kadi Pokara – Chickpea flour dumplings within a buttermilk gravy (spice suace)
Sizzlers – A vegetable based dish, found in pushkar and areas of Rajastan. Served on a very hot plate to keep it warm and even cooking while you eat it. We ate at the …… where I had the Sunset Sizzler, full of cashew nuts, potatoes, paneer, mushrooms and herbs, as well as topped off with cheese which was amazing!
Kucharees – Like samosas but larger and therefore more to eat!, They are deep fried, and normally have vegetables and mainly potato in them with flavour.
Gala – A potato dumpling, found with the Rajastani region, mainly found within the curries with a lot of flavour and a medium spice
Baati – A bread ball, served in Rajastan mainly with a Dal soup, very filling and hey you can never have enough bread in India
Poppadom – Famous in the western world, and found in many shapes and sizes in India dpending on region and location, A fried crispy bread, good with Daal or any curry, some of then are rolled fried, where as some of them are as light and small as crisps
Lachha Paratha – A swirly circular bread, very thin with smaller layers to create a spiral – Delicious even now I am dreaming of them
Naan Bread – The one everyone knows but doesn’t know, the traditional bread of India, but so thin but filling unlife the very deep bread of the Western Indians
Chapatis – Every Indian knows how to cook these, roll these and make these, very thin
Roti – Another name for bread in Indian a safe order on any menu
Djesihvbs – Not exactly a dessert, but defintily something that will help cool you down after you’ve order a hot curry. It’s a coconut based yoghurt.
Gulab Jamun – Condensed miLk, with a layer of fried batter normally in a sweet pineapple or fruit sauce – (really healthy – NOT),
Jalebi – A popular snack on the streets of India, fried while being piped out into the beautiful swirly shapes, normally bright orange! Perfect for a girl with a sweet tooth like me!
Kulfi – A milk based lollipop, with loads of different flavours, a famous one ot visit is it Delhi, called…. I tried the Mango K…. and also the chocolate one because I went for seconds, too good not too! Its almost like a Milka ice lolly in England.
Hrtujkgobi– Found in the Rajastan region, who seem to loooove sugary desserts, wheat based cake texture with sugar and water
During Festivals sweets are given as tokens to the gods, and also given as presents to family members and friends. These sweet shops, like the one we visited in Jaipur (hjgersrtufiglkjt) has been around for hundreds of years and still makes them in the traditional ways. We tried the Cashew Nut one, but once you have one you want to try them all.
Pineapple – Southern India is huge on fresh fruits for dessert, so don’t be surpised if every dessert is Pineapple especially when in season
Chai Tea – THE CUP OF TEA! With spices, water, tea, and a little or a lot of sugar, this is the staple to any morning in India. To be honest any time in India!
Lassi – Fresh yoghurt based drink, with one of the oldest being in the old city of Varaansi called Blue Lassi, with over 100 different flavours and mixtures of fruit, nuts and flavours yu would spend all day drinking these.
Lemon and Ginger Tea – Ingredients are what is says on the tin, after a lot of different foods, breads and carbs, this is a perfect detox drink.
Mango Juice – WOWSER, the freshest I have ever tried was in Kochi, but all over India the mango is in season around November – February so you have to try a freshly squeezed juice.
Sugar Cane Water – Seeing this done along the streets of India is amazing, they squeeze the large sticks of sugar cane through the presser to get a beautiful cup for you, and can be as cheap as 3p (30 rupees) for one.
Fresh fruit juices I came across were Mango Juice, Watermelon Juice and Pineapple but there were so many more depending on the time of year those fruits are in season!
Beer and Wine – There are Indian makes of wine and beer, I won’t lie I didn’t really drink a lot when in the country due to my own personal reasons, however there was the KingFisher Beer that a lot of others I met tried. The only one I did try was the Rice Wine in the northern villages, don’t let the name fool you this wine is lethal, and is more of a spirit like Vodka if anything, with some Mango juice – perfect! Just to say that alcohol is not really consumed publicly in India, its mainly a household social event, so don’t expect a lot of the more holy or rural places to have any.
Hope this helps, and I think the main lesson with food in India is say YES to everything, share a few dishes with others, to make sure you get to try even more!!
Enjoy , Namaste xxx