Depending on the restaurant, Indian dishes often seem to consist of various curry sauces served with either meat, chicken or vegetables. Certainly many ´Indian´ restaurants in the UK adapt the cuisine to suit the English palate. A more authentic restaurant will serve amazing Indian dishes full of flavour and variety. Here are some awesome Indian dishes to try on your next visit to a restaurant.
I´m tempted to order Sag Aloo every time I eat out. It´s one of my favourite Indian dishes. If you´ve always hated Spinach, then give this dish a try. It´s a delicious spicy mix of potatoes and spinach, and is a perfect choice for vegetarians.
My favourite Indian restaurant in London (sadly now closed) used to serve the most wonderful idlis. They are steamed cakes made from a batter of rice and fermented black lentils. Idlis are usually served with chutneys (the restaurant I mention served theirs with a coconut sauce.
Paneer is an Indian cheese, although not that similar to the kind of cheeses we eat in the west. This is because it is a fresh cheese, intended to be used quickly in the absence of fridges. It will be included in lots of restaurant dishes, so try one of them and see what you think (many supermarkets now sell paneer, if you decide you like it and want to cook with it at home).
Dosas are a kind of pancake that, like idlis, are made from a batter of rice and black lentils. Whereas lentils are more of a cake-like texture, dosas are cooked on a hot griddle and stuffed with a choice of fillings. There are a considerable variety of dosa recipes from the different Indian regions.
If you´ve never tried garbanzos, you´re in for a treat! They´re so versatile, and a great source of protein for vegetarians. Very common in Middle Eastern cooking, garbanzos are also found in Indian dishes – check out this spicy dish and you´ll be sure to love it!
You may have come across bhindi in ethnic grocers, and wondered what they are. So don´t miss a chance to try them in a restaurant! Bhindi are also known as okra, or lady´s fingers, and have an intriguing pattern when cut open. Will you like them? You´ll have to try them to find out!
This might not sound like a very adventurous dish if you´re dining out, but naan is one of my favourite breads. Most Indian restaurants will offer a variety of versions, with different stuffings and flavours. So even a humble side dish like bread can be a culinary adventure!
There generally aren´t many dessert items on the menu in Indian restaurants, probably because by the time you´ve worked your way through a pile of delicious main and side dishes, you haven´t any space left! If you can manage a dessert try kulfi, which is the Indian version of ice cream. Mango is my favourite!
So you see that there are far more interesting and tasty Indian dishes than the usual endless varieties of korma/tandoori dishes. Be adventurous, and you´ll discover lots of fantastic and delicious new dishes, much closer to those eaten by Indians themselves. When you go to a restaurant, do you like to try new Indian dishes, or do you always order the same meal?
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