Food

An Intro to Indian Food: So What is Indian Food Anyways?

 

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Maybe you’ve seen Indian food on TV before or heard people talking about all the delicious curries they’ve devoured, but do you actually know what constitutes Indian food? Or what makes it what it is? Well, about a year ago, I didn’t have a clue what all the hype around Indian food was for either. My whole knowledge about it was the word ‘curry’, but that was about it. That all changed when a friend of mine invited me to a hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant.

I was blown away by the unique blend of spices and depth of flavor. The bread was soft, chewy, and delicious, and I found myself pushing the meat to the side, so I could get more of the delicious sauce. I’ve been addicted ever since, and now it’s my go-to cuisine when going out with friends or family. Let me tell you all that I’ve learned.

Curry

Chicken Curry

Let’s start with curry. Curry is a very general term that refers to a number of Indian dishes that are prepared in a sauce. There are lots of different kinds of curries, and with each one, you can choose your choice of protein. The protein choices are the usual: chicken, lamb, fish, or shrimp. I love lamb, so this is a special treat for me!

Each curry is different according to its ingredients, spices, and cooking methods. For example, you have Chicken Masala which is another example, and one of the favorites that I’ve tried. It comes with chunks of onions and bell peppers, resulting in a sweeter taste to the sauce. Another one is Vindaloo, which is made by marinating meat in vinegar; it’s very unusual, but the vinegar gives it a sharp flavor that I like. There are also many vegetarian options, including vegetable-mix and replacing meat/chicken with Paneer. Paneer is basically Indian halloumi cheese; it’s a soft, chewy white cheese with a high melting point. Spicy sauce and cheese cubes! Yum!

You generally order bread, rice, or both on the side. You eat it just like traditional Egyptian cooked veggies; either scoop it onto rice or use bread to eat it directly out of the bowl.

Due to the vague description of curry, it’s quite normal to find that every restaurant is a little bit different. In India, dishes change depending on location, personal preference, and even religion.

 

Non-curry

Chicken Biryani

Another main dish you can try is Biryani. Biryani is a good introduction to Indian food; it’s a spicy rice dish with your choice of protein. It’s pretty popular in the Gulf area and Jordan as well. It’s a good all-rounder because you won’t need sides with it. A wholesome meal.

There’s also the all-too-famous Naan bread. It is light, soft, and buttery, like a baked cloud. When it’s baked well, it’s probably the most delicious bread you’ll ever eat.

 

Spices

Hot hot hot!

One thing you need to be aware of is that Indian food tends to be very spicy, which is why a lot of people don’t really like to try it. However, there are a few dishes that have spice as an integral part of the dish.

My mother is totally spice intolerant; if there’s even a hint of spice in her food, she won’t eat it. However, she loves Indian food as much as my sister and I do! I find that the best thing you can do is communicate with your waiter. Let him/her know what your spice tolerance level is, and you can also ask for recommendations for spice-free dishes if you’re nervous.

If you like the look of a particular dish, ask the waiter how spicy it is and whether they can change it to what you like. My sister loves spices, and my mother can’t stand it, so they order accordingly. Personally, I can only tolerate a low-level of spices, so I’ll ask the waiter to make it no or low on spices, and see how that particular restaurant is for future reference.

Out of my personal experience, Vindaloo and Madras are the spiciest dishes I’ve tried, so steer clear if you want to avoid having a mini inferno in your mouth. If you do like infernos, go ahead! Yogurt and dairy products cut down on spice, so Korma (a cream and nut-based curry) is a good choice. Mutter Paneer (peas & paneer served in a tomato-based sauce and spiced with garam masala) is also a good choice and is easy on the stomach if you’re sensitive.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can get a side of Raita, which is a cold yogurt sauce and is traditionally used to cool the palate. Remember, eating your curry with plain rice and bread will help tone the spicy taste down.

Mango Lassi is also something I recommend; it’s a spicy yogurt drink with mango. Very refreshing, very delicious. It can also help keep your mouth cool.

 

The Verdict

It is obvious now that I’ve enjoyed my Indian food trial adventure and I’ve collected quite some knowledge about it. Are you interested now? I will share with you the best Indian restaurants in future articles, so be sure to stay tuned!

 

Stories or tips, please share them!

 

Do you like Indian food? Do you want me to try your favorite Indian restaurant? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below!

About Sarah Eldahan

I'm just a college student trying to survive life in Cairo. When not doing college work, I can be found trying to understand web design, watching writing-advice videos, and reading fanfiction (it's my guilty pleasure, shhhh). I prefer staring at walls to studying, which makes student life predictably hard. I'll be writing for the Food and Gaming sections, so be sure to check that out! Other than that, I'm loud, funny, and, when there's nothing better to do, 100% daydreaming.

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