My husband and I are going to dinner tonight at an Indian restaurant. I have eaten at an Indian place once before and enjoyed it, but I don’t really know much about the cuisine. I’m mostly hoping I won’t order anything too spicy. What do you think is good?
Non-spicy: Try something in a cream sauce. My Chinese SO likes the chicken tikka makhni. The Shahi Korma is good, too. You can ask them if things are spicy, they’re used to it. Make sure to get some naan with it so you can ease the spice if it’s too much.
Spicy: Go with the vindaloo and run with it. (still impressed with KeithT
Two of my favorite dishes are mattar paneer (note that the spelling may vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant), which is peas with cubes of a chewy white cheese in a mild tomato-based sauce, and navratan korma, which is mixed vegetables and cashews in a sweet, creamy sauce.
One of my favorites is bhaingan bharta, a mashed eggplant dish with (usually) peas and a tasty, tomato-based sauce. It can be very spicy, but I’m sure it can be made mild if you wish. A very safe but tasty choice if you enjoy spinach is a saag dish: saag paneer (with Indian cheese), saag with mushrooms (can’t remember the real name), etc. These are creamed spinach dishes that, in my experience, are always very mild but also quite yummy (two things that are often diametrically opposed in my personal taste ;)).
One of my ultimate favorites is malai kofta, which is…uh…vegetarian balls. I think they’re made with paneer (cheese), potato, carrots, and something else. I don’t really know. But they’re great, and they tend to be pretty mild, I think. They typically come in a creamy tomato-based sauce.
Every Indian restaurant I’ve been to let me select what level of spice I wanted for whatever dish I selected.
Personally, I like kormas. Chicken coconut korma is my default dish.
Are tomatoes an Indian staple? They came from the new world, did they not?
Now that’s what I wanted to hear! Everything sounds good so far. I’m going to look for something a little adventurous too. I regretted getting something with chicken last time when I could have had goat.
Oh, this is a really minor correction and I usually don’t repost to correct typos but it’s really bothering me because I’m a Hindi student: I wrote ‘bhaingan’ but it really should be ‘baingan’.
I’ll redeem this post’s value by saying that, carnivorousplant, I did a little googling and it seems that tomatoes are indeed not indigenous to India.
They aren’t indigenous to Italy, either, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t authentic in Italian food. At some point, foods can be considered integrated into a culture.
They are now. They didn’t exist in Europe either before the Spanish arrived in the New World, but they’re also a staple in Italy.
All of it. If I had to limit myself to a particular ethnic cuisine for the rest of my life, it would be Indian.
As others have suggested, go with something in a cream/butter sauce for your main dish. Get a second vegetarian option also, say something with chickpeas or lentils. I’m a big fan of alu mutter (potatoes and peas). Make sure to tell the wait staff you’re a spice wimp, and you’ll be fine.
Here’s my own mini-glossary for non-chilli Indian foods:
“Tandoori” means something it’s been marinated, then cooked dry in a clay oven. Rarely any chilli.
“Kashmiri” means no chilli, but lots of fruit in a cream/yogurt base.
“Moglai” or “Mughal” is a yoghurt-based dish - no or little chilli.
“Korma” mentioned above - has no chilli, is lightly spiced, and is based on ground almonds.
“Pasanda” is a sweet, creamy dark curry using almonds (and traditionally with the meat is cooked in vinegar, though you’d never guess). This is not very common, and one of my favorites, though you can feel the arteries clogging when you eat it.
Chicken Tikka Masala (might not be in America yet) is tomato/cream based and has no chilli. It’s now the national dish of England, having overtaken fish and chips.
Chana Masala is a garbanzo bean side-dish with very little chilli in it (normally - but check first).
Saag Aloo means “spinach potato” and is just that. Lovely.
Aloo Gobi means “potato cauliflower” and is just that too. Lovely.
Saag Paneer means “spinach cheese” and is also just that - the cheese mentioned above.
“Saag” and “cream sauce” are the main thoughts I will try to keep in mind.
Yes, and for that matter, so did chili peppers. But when they made it to India, they caught on in a big way!
Come to think of it, it was probably the British who introduced them.
I like Chicken Kashmiri. It’s chicken in a creamy banana sauce. My wife usually gets Tandoori Chicken, which is good and done well, but nothing special, IMO.
We usually get Naan, which is a flat bread, and comes with an assortment of mild to spicy dips. The dips are fantastic.
We also get Cucumber Rayta, which is a cucumber/yogurt sauce that we put on naan or just spoon it up whole. It’s a nice compliment to the spicier elements of the meal.
If we’re feeling rich (this stuff’s expensive) we’ll get Dum Aloo, which is stuffed potato (not a baked potato) cooked in a sauce.
Prompted by the previous post, if it turns out that you like Indian food a lot, I highly recommend going to a restaurant’s luncheon buffet. I love Indian food, but I find most places are just so expensive for dinner. Whereas ten bucks at dinner can buy you maybe a little dish with a few chunks of your desired substance floating around, the same ten dollars can often, at lunch, buy you all you want of numerous main dishes, appetizers/sides (samosas, pakoras, etc.), bread, soup, salad, and dessert. It may be a little less made-to-order but I find it thoroughly worth it-- it’s not the gross leftovers that you may be familiar with from buffet-only restaurants, it’s usually an impressive array of the restaurant’s more popular dishes.
Yeah, I don’t know much about Indian food but we often go to our local hole-in-the-wall (well, hole-in-the-no-tell-motel)'s weekend buffet. The thing is, you don’t learn MORE about Indian food because they don’t really bother with labels, but you get to try a lot of new things and it’s all really good. Buffet is, IMHO, the best way to take in a new cuisine.
I’m going to hazard a guess that it was the Portuguese and not the British who introduced them and they spread from Goa to India.
Tandoori Chicken is good, but chicken tikki masala is my absolute favorite. Creamy tomato-y sauce with cubes of white meat chicken. Mmmmmmmm! Thankfully, we’ve got a few decent Indian buffets in town, and I go about once a month for lunch with my dad.
And don’t forget the rice pudding for dessert!