A Guide To Decoding The Indian Menu Part 2


A continuation of ‘A Guide To Decoding The Indian Menu Part 1’, this nifty collection of common Indian terms lifted straight off the menus of some of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants will help you gain a greater understanding of Indian cuisine, order with confidence and impress all your Indian food loving friends…

Gobi: Cauliflower

A favourite vegetable on the Indian menu, you can expect to find spiced cauliflowers served as a whole side dish or incorporated into other recipes.

Jalfrezi: Spicy Stirfry

A classic recipe, usually served with a hot and spicy, tomato-based gravy. Green chillies and a variety of Indian spices provide this dish with its heat. Ideal with a refreshing side of yoghurt or crunchy, green salad.

Korma: Mild and Creamy

There are many variations of this traditional Mughlai dish but generally it involves a mild, creamy sauce with plenty of onions, tomatoes and whole spices.

Madras: Hot and Spicy

This dish hails from South India, the part of the country renowned for its prolific use of the chilli pepper. Pair with a creamy daal or cooling raita to provide some sweet relief from the heat.

Malai: Cream

Expect a malai dish to come with a mild, luxuriously thick sauce with assorted onions, tomatoes and the usual suspects of ginger, garlic and spices. A malai dish makes a great addition to a spicy dish that needs a little more moisture and some warm chapatis or naans.

Masala: Mixed Spice

A familiar word in the Indian foodie vocabulary that simply means spiced. Traditional masala dishes are fairly dry but the range of recipes is vast. Expect a medium to hot sort of spice to accompany with a daal and rice side.

Saag: Green Vegetables

Saag pops up in a number of sides on the Indian menu and is mostly used to describe cooked or creamed, leafy greens such as spinach. You tend to see saag combined with other ingredients such as potato or mustard leaves. Order with an Indian flatbread and a tasty daal.

Shahi: Royal

This is a reference to the rich, creamy dishes of the Mughlai royal court. Expect a thick, luxurious sauce with typical dishes including paneer cheese or chicken.

Tandoori: Baked in the Tandoor

One of the healthier options on the Indian menu, tandoori meats do not contain a lot of oil nor any gravy. Meat or vegetables are baked at a high heat in a clay, tandoor oven after marinating in a spice and yohgurt mix. Order with tasty bread or daal if you need a little sauce in your life.

Thali: Circular, Metal Tray of Dishes

The popular thali refers to the round, metal tray that a variety of dishes are served on. Expect a selection of rice, vegetables, pickles, dips and a meat or vegetable based curry.

Vindaloo: Spicy, Sweet and Sour

One of the hotter choices on the Indian restaurant, this dish was originally a variation of a Portuguese speciality, created from pork. Now Indian restaurants serve a range of vindaloos and the addition of Indian spices, vinegar and sugar gives the curry a taste that’s both sweet and sour.

Now you know your malai from your masala, it’s time to try out those skills with a slap up meal at one of London’s best Indian brasseries . Enjoy!


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