Indian Restaurants: More Than Just Curry

Indian food has become very popular in recent years. Most large cities will have a few Indian restaurants. If you've never had Indian food before, you might think that it's all curry. While curry is delicious, it is only a small part of the wide variety of meals available.

We are going to look at the different types of Indian restaurants you are likely to encounter and give you some popular dishes you will likely find.

In the United States, you are going to find two distinct types of restaurants: Southern Indian and Northern Indian. The restaurants won't typically be labeled as such. You will tell from their menus what their style is. Each area has a unique menu.

Southern Indian Food

Southern Indian cuisine is dominated by rice. Rice is the staple food and it is served with almost every meal. Lentils are also very popular. Vegetarian food is very popular in Southern Indian food. This makes it a perfect restaurant for people who don't eat meat.

Many restaurants serve nothing but vegetarian food. Many vegetarians love Indian food for this reason. There are hundreds of meals that are perfect for non-meat eaters.

Southern Indian food is also very spicy. Tamarind, and other flavorful spices, are used in many dishes.

Another distinctive aspect of Southern Indian food is the use of fruits and nuts. Many dishes will have raisins, coconut, almonds, and other things that you would not find in a Northern dish.

Popular Southern Indian Dishes:

Samba: This is very spicy lentil based stew that you eat with rice. There is often a vegetable used.

Masala dosa: A "pancake" that is made from rice and lentils. It is served with sauces and chutneys. Tamarind, mint, and coconut are all popular sauces.

Biryani: A basmati rice based dish. It is made with either chicken, fish, vegetables or lamb.

Vindaloo: This is a type of curry stew that will often be made with chicken. It is made with spices such as clove, mustard seed, cinnamon, tamarind, as well as peppers, garlic and onions.

North Indian Food

Northern Indian cuisine features more bread. Northern Indian restaurants will have many types of breads. They have fried breads, stuffed breads, baked breads and breads made in traditional ovens, also called tandoor ovens.

There is also more meat and cheese on the menu. However, there are still lots of options for vegetarians.

Popular Northern Indian Dishes:

Mattar Paneer: This is a popular, and vegetarian friendly, North Indian dish. Paneer is an Indian cheese that is cut into cubes and served with green peas. The sauce is a thick gravy made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, clarified butter, ginger, onion and spices.

Mali Kofta: This is a type of meatball, but without meat. It is made from potatoes and paneer. The kofta is served in a spicy sauce. This is served with bread.

Tandorri Chicken: This is a classic. Many restaurants will feature this because it is a beautiful looking meal. The chicken is cooked in a clay oven and it is rubbed with spices so that it comes out bright red.

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