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Terms to Help You Navigate the Menu at an Indian Restaurant

Going out to eat at an authentic Indian restaurant is a great way to get a taste of this wonderful culture. Traditional Indian food is full of spice and flavor, and boasts many dishes that appeal even to vegetarians. The menu, however, can be daunting if you're not familiar with a few terms. Here's a cheat sheet to help you navigate the menu on your next outing for Indian cuisine.

  • Masala - Part of Indian food's signature taste is from their use of masala. This is a generic term used to refer to a finely ground combination of spices and herbs that can be sweet or spicy.
  • Curry - Curry is commonly equated with Indian cuisine, and is a type of masala. Curry is yellow, aromatic, and typically cooked to create a creamy sauce for many Indian recipes.
  • Chai - Chai is another well-known Indian masala. It's a combination of sweet spices and herbs that are often used in hot tea.
  • Tandoori - This a third masala you're likely to see at the Indian restaurant. Full of cayenne pepper and chili powders, this masala is red in color. It's often used to create a chicken dish.
  • Paneer - This is a popular Indian cheese that's much different from traditional aged cheeses. Because it doesn't use a common coagulating agent, rennet, it can be used as an ingredient lacto-vegetarian dishes.
  • Samosa - This will typically be featured as an appetizer in an Indian restaurant. It's a puffed potato pastry that's also typically vegetarian.
  • Barfi - Barfi is a common Indian dessert cooked with two simple ingredients: condensed milk and sugar. There are also variations on the basic recipe including add-ins like fruit and nuts.
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    Masala Indian Restaurant
    9 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240
    (319) 338-6199
    Namaste India
    7500 University Ave Ste A, Clive, IA 50325
    (515) 255-1698
    Taj Mahal Cuisine of India Restaurant
    3939 Center Point Rd Ne, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
    (319) 294-4953
    India Palace
    120 Hayward Ave Ste 2, Ames, IA 50014
    (515) 292-1710
    Indian Delight
    127 Dotson Dr, Ames, IA 50014
    (515) 292-3419
    Taste of India
    1704 W 1st St Ste A, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
    (319) 277-4900


    Indian cuisine has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. People in America - and all around the world - are coming to enjoy it more and more. Indian recipes are healthy and flavorful. Dishes are often full of spices and curry powder, but they are rarely overpowering. And the ingredients are usually fresh and authentic. So, if you've never tried an Indian dish before, you really ought to head over to your local Indian restaurant or store. You should be able to sample many different recipes and varieties of food at either of these purveyors of Indian cuisine. You should be able to sample curries, paneers, and samosas, for instance. You should also be able to sample several different types of rice. Most Indian restaurants and grocery stores sell a variety of cooked meats and vegetables. They often sell chicken, which is great in chicken tandoori. They also often sell cooked seafood and lamb. And they frequently cater to vegetarian and vegan customers, as well, by selling vegetable dishes. Indian cuisine can be traditional or modern in style. They can also be northern or southern in style. Many Indian dining establishments have begun to offer delivery options to their customers, making it easier than ever to sample Indian for the first time. So, if you're interesting in sampling a delicious Indian delicacy or two, you really ought to consider stopping by an Indian restaurant or grocery store in the near future. Odds are, you'll be glad you did. After all, there's a reason Indian food has become so popular in recent years!
     
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