It’s no secret that I adore Indian food. It’s probably my favorite cuisine, even above Thai food, which is the food I grew up on. Indian food is full of flavor and color and I just can’t get enough of it. I hit up the local Indian restaurants more than a couple times a month, especially for their lunch buffets. Lunch buffets are my favorite, because I can never decide on just one dish. I like most Indian dishes but there are a couple that are stand outs for me. Favorites, if you will.
So, if you’re an Indian food virgin, but are looking to branch out, here’s a list of some of my favorite dishes to order at a restaurant.
Appetizers & Starters:
Veggie Samosas – I prefer the veggie to the meat. These samosas are usually stuffed with potatoes, peas, and spices and then deep fried. I mean what could be bad about that? For the meat lovers, you may prefer the meat samosas.
Chicken Tikka – This is similar to the popular tandoori chicken, but usually is cut up in bite size pieces and is usually boneless white meat. The chicken is marinated and cooked in a tandoor oven.
Aloo Tikki – Basically fried potato patties with some chili peppers and other spices.
Vegetarian dishes (my personal favorite):
Palak Paneer – This is my all time favorite Indian dish. My husband doesn’t get it, he likes the meat dishes, but for me, it’s all about the vegetables when it comes to Indian food. This is a spinach dish served with an Indian cheese, called paneer. For those who have never had paneer, it is most similar in taste to mozarella and the texture is like a very firm tofu (at least that’s how I describe it). If you’ve never had it, you must give it a try. It is delicious. Anyway, the spinach and paneer are slow cooked in mild spices and taste like magic when the dish is done.
Bhartha – This is an eggplant dish. The eggplant is slow cooked usually with tomatoes, peas, onions and of course, plenty of spices to give it amazing flavor.
Mutter Paneer – The paneer is the star of this dish and is cooked with green peas and simmered in a mild, yellow sauce.
Chana Masala – Chick peas cooked in a flavorful tomato based sauce. Simple and delicious.
Chicken Tikka Masala – My husband’s favorite. Boneless pieces of chicken are first cooked in a tandoor oven and then simmered in a mild tomato sauce. This is an easy dish to try for those who have never had Indian food before.
Chicken Korma – This dish is also mild, but also decadent, because the base of the sauce is cream. It’s very similar to another cream sauce dish, Chicken Cashmere. The only difference is Chicken Cashmere usually comes with cashews and raisins.
Chili Chicken – For those who love spicy food, this is the dish for you. The name basically gives the dish away. The chicken is cooked with chilis and is very spicy.
Beef or Lamb Vindaloo – Another spicy dish. The beef or lamb is simmered in a spicy red sauce. A very hearty dish.
Chicken or Lamb Biryani – This is a rice dish. I like to think of it as an Indian “fried rice” but I don’t think it’s actually fried. Basmati rice is cooked with meat, spices, onions, ginger and garlic and a variety of other ingredients that make the dish delicious.
So, there you have it. My favorite Indian dishes. Be sure to order plenty of naan, garlic naan and chutneys to go along with your meal. There is quite a variety of Indian breads to choose from, but naan or garlic naan has always been my favorite.
…Now if only I could learn to cook these dishes like a pro.