Indian cuisine is one of the greatest cuisines on the planet. It has gained its long-awaited momentum, and now Indian food is available in the smallest towns around the world. Undoubtedly, Indian cuisine is scrumptious and full of flavor. For the first timers, picking out which Indian dish to try can be overwhelming as the cuisine is enormously diverse and the options are endless.
A recent Tiktok trend of trying Indian food has gone viral, and people are jumping on the bandwagon with their reviews of Indian food all over social media. With endless options for must-have Indian foods to try, we have put together our top picks of foods to try at an Indian restaurant:
1. Papad (also known as Papadum)
Papad is an Indian version of a tortilla chip. It is a fried thin crispy cracker made out of gram flour which comes in all sorts of sizes and flavors. The dough is made with gram flour, salt, water, and cumin seed. The kneaded dough is rolled into a thin circular shape and deep fried. Indian restaurants will serve papad as an appetizer with an array of chutneys such as mint chutney, tamarind chutney, or mango chutney for dipping.
Papad is the perfect crunchy appetizer, once you start eating papad, you can’t stop until it’s finished!
Samosa is a triangular-shaped fried pastry filled with a spicy mixture of potatoes and green peas. Samosa is one of the most popular snacks in South Asia and is also commonly served with chai.
Samosa is very versatile as it can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Other popular samosa flavors include keema samosa which can be either beef or chicken, chana dal samosa, tandoori paneer samosa, and cheese and spinach samosa. Samosa is always paired with mint chutney, a dipping sauce made with mint, cilantro, green peppers, garlic, and cumin seeds.
Samosas are served hot, crunchy, flaky, and full of aromatic flavor.
3. Chicken Tikka Masala
Boneless chicken is cubed and marinated with yogurt, ginger garlic, and spices such as paprika, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and tikka masala. The marinated chicken is placed onto skewers and grilled (or charred) to perfection. The chicken is then added to a luscious sauce made out of tomato paste, onions, spices, and cream. It is garnished with fresh garam masala and cilantro.
Chicken Tikka Masala is served with basmati white rice or naan. It is rich, smoky, and creamy and will leave your stomach feeling satisfied.
4. Daal Makhani
Makhani means “buttery”. Unlike other dal recipes which are relatively easy to make, dal makhani is one of those dishes that are made on special occasions and is time-consuming. The taste is heavenly and completely worth the time.
Kidney beans and Black Gram lentils are soaked overnight. They are slow-cooked together until soft. The dal is then added to a creamy sauce. It is prepared with a generous amount of butter, ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, onions, and spices such as cumin seeds, red chili powder, turmeric, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and cardamom.
Fresh cream and kasuri meethi (dried fenugreek leaves) are added, and the dal is set to simmer for a few minutes. Finishing touches are given to the dal by adding a smokey flavor using the dhungar method. Dal Makhani is served with cumin rice, roti, or naan, and is one of the most beloved lentil dishes in India. Its flavor is buttery, creamy, delectable, and divine.
5. Garlic Naan
Naan is the most popular leavened flatbread in India. The dough is prepared with all-purpose flour, yeast, milk, baking powder, baking soda, and yogurt. Soft and buttery bread is the only way to describe it. The dough is divided into baseball-shaped balls and placed into a tandoor oven. The naan is topped with a garlic butter sauce before serving. Naan is served with all Indian curries, sabzis (vegetables), and dals.
The varieties of naan are plentiful and some popular types include butter naan, onion naan, chili cheese naan, and keema (minced meat) naan.
6. Gulab Jamun
No Indian meal is complete without dessert. Gulab Jamun is a soft and melt-in-your-mouth dessert. This deep-fried ball-shaped treat is made from milk solids, flour, and sugar. Once deep-fried and brown, it is soaked in a sticky syrup that consists of sugar, cardamom, saffron, and rosewater for a few hours. Gulab Jamuns are served warm.
Other delicious must-have desserts include gajar halwa (pudding made by slow-cooking grated carrots in ghee, milk, sugar, and cardamom), and kheer (rice pudding made with full-fat milk, sugar, and cardamom and nuts).
We hope that this list will help you navigate the epic Indian food scene. Although traditional Indian food can be on the spicier side, you can always ask the restaurant to make it at your desired spice level.
Indian cuisine is truly a foodie’s paradise and guarantees to tantalize your taste buds. Trying Indian food is an experience in itself and one that will keep you going back for more. It is always a great idea to experiment with your taste buds and try foods that you have never tried before. What better way to start than with Indian cuisine!