as delicious Indian potato fritters. These appetizers or snacks are made with mashed potatoes and a variety of spices, formed into patties, then fried in oil. You’ll find them sold on the streets of Northern India and on the menu of your local takeout.
as being an Indian version of empanadas. These are a favorite appetizer made with with a flaky pastry enveloping a hearty filling of potatoes and vegetables. They’re folded into triangles, fried, and served with chutneys.
is your best friend if you’re having Indian food for the first time. Not exactly sure how spicy your dish is going to be? Think you might not be able to handle it? Have no fear. Raita’s got your back. This cooling cucumber-mint yogurt sauce will dial down the heat if things get too hot.
are simply Indian dumplings. The spices used in the filling and sauce are more characteristic of Indian cuisine than Chinese cuisine, but like dumplings, momos are steamed or fried and come with a variety of vegetable and meat fillings.
are two terms for vegetables that are battered and deep fried, kind of like tempura. Onion is one of the most popular varieties of pakora and bhaji, but other vegetables are prepared the same way. That’s a pretty convincing way to get your 3-5 a day.
is a dish consisting primarily of split chickpeas stewed with spices such as turmeric. Dal also refers to other legumes such as peas, kidney beans, and lentils, and it’s possible you might also find these varieties on your restaurant menu.
is a flavorful dish made with potatoes and cauliflower that are cooked in garlic, ginger, turmeric, and other spices. It’s typically on the spicier side and is drier because, unlike many main dishes, it isn’t served as a stew or in a sauce.
is roasted in a clay oven called a tandoor. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices overnight before it goes in the tandoor on long skewers. If your kitchen or takeout spot doesn’t have a clay oven, a grill or broiler will do the trick.
is a classic Indian takeout dish and a prominent feature of Indian as well as British cuisine. It’s so popular that it’s even been called, unofficially, the “national dish of the U.K.” Pieces of tandoori chicken are cut up and stewed in a rich, spicy tomato-based sauce consisting of a spice mix called garam masala. If it’s your first time having Indian food, this is a good one to start with.
originally comes from Pakistan and the Kashmir region of Northern India and is available today at most Indian takeout restaurants around the world. After the meat marinates in yogurt, garlic, and ginger, it’s cooked with onions, peppers, and loads of spices. Cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, fennel seeds, garam masala, and the list goes on.
are characterized by a thinner, typically tangier sauce made with a splash of vinegar. These dishes also typically tend to be on the spicier side with a blend of hot chilies in the mix, so proceed with caution.
might be a safer bet. This curry dish is often made with coconut milk and ground up almonds or cashews, which give the sauce a pleasant nutty flavor and smoothness. The mildness of the sauce lets the aroma of milder spices shine.
is characterized by its large pieces of onions and red and green peppers, which make this dish similar to a stir fry. The meat and vegetables are cooked in oil and spices, then tomatoes are added to create a thick, chunky sauce. Go crazy, jalfrezi.
is like Indian fried rice. Rice is the primary ingredient to which any combination of meats, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and spices are added. Some biryanis contain raisins, which add a level of sweetness to the otherwise savory and flavorful dish.
is the bread you’ll use to soak up all of the sauce left on your plate. It’s usually pillowy soft, warm, and brushed with oil and herbs. You can customize your naan with a few different additions, and garlic is always a good way to go.
is another type of flatbread, but because the dough doesn’t contain any yeast, it’s actually much thinner than naan. They’re kind of like tortillas, and at some restaurants, they’re even used to make curry wrap sandwiches.
is an Indian version of rice pudding, but because Indian food is awesome, it does rice pudding one better. Rice kheer is flavored with saffron and cardamom, topped with pistachios and almonds, and deserves a spot in the dessert hall of fame.
to cool things down. This frozen dessert is made with milk that’s been cooked down, sweetened, flavored, and frozen in moulds. It’s like an ice cream popsicle and comes in traditional flavors like rose, pistachio, and mango. Yes please.
is another way to cool down if you had a heavy hand with the chili peppers. It’s basically a mango milkshake or smoothie made with milk, yogurt, fresh mango puree, and a few aromatic spices. Because in Indian cuisine, everything has at least a few spices.
, or what most Americans know simply as chai, is black tea and milk combined with a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, black pepper, fennel, and star anise. A perfect end to any great Indian meal.