Top Ten Indian Dishes
With a population of over a billion, it’s safe to say that the average Indian family has a number of mouths of feed. Such a responsibility ensures that good food is more important than ever, so it’s hardly surprising that the country’s cuisine has been imported all over the world. Curry has been a staple of British culture since London’s very first Indian restaurant opened in 1809, with these heady combinations of rice and spice setting mouths watering ever since. This guide will summarise ten of the most popular dishes that have made their way from Bharat to Blighty.
Chicken dishes are prolific on an Indian menu, mainly because both pork and beef, depending on religion, are somewhat a ‘no-no’ in Indian culture. These are Britain’s most favourite choices, not forgetting delicious vegetarian food and superb collections of bread, such as chapattis, naans and other Indian delicacies.
Taking its name from the Urdu word bhunna, which translates literally as ‘to be fried’, bhuna describes both a cooking process and a dish. The bhuna method of food preparation involves lightly frying spices in oil, bringing out the prominent flavor of these seasonings. Ordering a bhuna in a typical curry house will result in a medium-hot stir-fried dry curry, made with plenty of fresh coriander, green peppers and a meat of your choosing – usually chicken or lamb.
Also known as murgh makhani in the original Hindi, butter chicken is something of a ‘get what you see’ dish – it tastes exactly how it sounds. Diced chicken is left to marinade in a creamy butter sauce for several hours before being oven-cooked and coated in a mild curry sauce, sometimes topped with cream or yoghurt.
A curry and a chat is a British tradition, but chaat is threatening to supersede its saucy counterpart. Hugely popular in India and rapidly gaining prominence in the UK as a street food, chaat comprises of five core ingredients that make up a mouth-watering whole; a crispy, carb-centric base, hosting flavoursome sauces and yoghurts, crunchy chickpeas, diced vegetables and a sprinkling of masala powder. These components combine to create a potent and delicious dish.
Chole is a form of chickpea found in the west, replacing the Indian-centric chana in the popular kabuli and bhature dishes. These are typically dry and spicy snacks served as street food along with friend bread in India, though chole can also be ground up to create a protein-packed curry paste – perfect for a vegetarian Indian food aficionado.
It’s a rite of passage for any Brit to eventually tackle the hottest item on a curry house’s menu, and dishes rarely get much spicier than a jalfezi. Like bhuna, the term jalfezi actually applied to the cooking process itself, in this case re-heating cold meats and potatoes and stir-frying vegetables in with oil – alongside enough hot peppers to have even the hardiest curry-muncher reaching for a jug of water.
And now, from one taste extreme to another. Korma is a very mild and mouth-watering marinade of slow-cooked meats (often chicken) in rich, creamy yoghurts, seasoned with flavours such as coconut and almond. Korma is hugely popular with novices to Indian cuisine, particularly thanks to a flavour that focuses on sweetness over spice, and while the taste is benign it should never be bland.
If one were to walk into an Indian restaurant and ask for simply “curry”, madras would be the result. Named after the Indian city where the dish was first served, and typically describing the chili powder sauce that is applied to a meat-and-rice dish of the customers choosing, often topped with yoghurt to temper some of the heavy spice. Madras is actually a British invention, and a specialty of curry houses throughout the UK.
Lamb is often a carnivorous option alongside chicken in an Indian restaurant, but with a rogan josh it is the essential ingredient. A medium-hot concoction of fried lamb and potentially dozens of different spices, a lamb rogan josh is a hugely popular choice in all Indian restaurants thanks to its delicate balance of spice and full, rich flavour.
Possibly the most popular dish in India, tandoori chicken comprises of marinating the poultry in spices and yoghurts before grilling the meat and adding a rich sauce. No longer just a curry, however, tandoori chicken has grown in popularity throughout Britain as a sandwich filler, soup and even pizza topping.
The question as to what actually makes a tikka malasa has raged for many years thanks to the multitude of options available to making such a meal – as, indeed, has the question as to whether it actually exists in India. Much like madras, tikka masala has been introduced to the palette of the UK by natives of this country, and was considered Britain’s favourite dish for many, many years. Lightly spiced, with chicken or lamb doused in flavoursome sauce, tikka masala is a no-nonsense choice beloved throughout the land.
Fancy making these or other great Indian dishes yourself? Why not sign up to one of TryMyKitchen’s informative and tasty lessons! There are many on offer at https://www.trymykitchen.com/cookery/london/all/cooking-classes/indian-cooking-class