Indian food is notorious for being hot and spicy so a lot of beginners tend to avoid it. It’s true that a lot of the dishes contain a spicy number but traditional Indian cooking is more about flavour, aromatics and vibrancy. You’ll be surprised at how many dishes aren’t actually too hot to handle and are more focused on marrying flavours together instead. If you’re a beginner looking for a new food adventure, this is the perfect guide for you!

Indian Food – The Basics

Let’s begin by delving into traditional Indian food, it is a lot different to the flavours and textures created for today’s Western palate. Indian cuisine has been on the menu for as long as 5000 years. Chinese, Mongolian and Persian flavours are also surrounding influences that make up Indian recipes.

You’ll also be surprised to know that a majority of Indian dishes are actually vegetarian and vegan, the meat being substituted for hearty lentils and luxurious paneer with an abundance of flavours and spices.

There are a foundation of spices that you’ll see time again throughout any Indian food menu as these are the stepping stones to creating that incredible immersive flavour. These classic Indian spices include; cinnamon, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ground mustard seeds and turmeric. Each one brings a new aroma and when perfected, can be layered together to create some of the most beautiful flavours in the world.

Traditional Indian Bread

Indian breads are traditionally handmade and are usually flat to make them the perfect utensil for scooping up delicious meals and mopping up any left over sauces. It is more popular to eat bread with your right hand, but no one will mind if you are left handed either.

The most common Indian breads are naan, chapati and paratha which can be made using a variety of different flours such as lentil, chickpea or rice flour. Each dough is patted by hand and then cooked on a piping hot traditional griddle called a Tava. Breads can be created with all sorts of spices, vegetables and meats which can bring even more flavour to your dish.

Perfect dishes for beginners

The hardest part of deciding which new flavours to try is not understanding the words or ingredients on the menu, so we’ve broken down the most common and tastiest foods for you.

Street foods

‘Street foods’ is a term used to describe popular local foods that are usually sold at markets or on busy high streets. To begin our new exciting Indian food journey, let’s start with some delicious Dosa. Dosa is a popular Indian pancake made from rice or lentils. It can be served with vegetables or meat and is usually accompanied by a range of tasty chutneys.

Another extremely popular Indian street food is Vada Pav. Before you even taste what they have to offer, they look incredibly gorgeous and are a feast for the eyes alone. A deep fried potato dumpling is served inside a fluffy bun and accompanied by different chutneys. This is a must-try for anyone wanting to try foods that are specific to India.

Appetisers

If you’re treating yourself to a wonderful 3 course meal experience, of course the best place to start is with appetisers! There are so many alluring dishes to choose from but these two have to be the winners, especially in the try-something-traditional category.

Commonly known as ‘Lady Fingers’, Okra fries are the perfect stepping stone into Indian cuisine. Okra is a popular Asian vegetable from the marrow family and when deep fried and seasoned, make the most heavenly fries.

If you fancy something a with a little more spice, Chilli Paneer may be the perfect option for you. Take traditional Indian cottage cheese (paneer), combine it with a variety of fresh peppers and then simmer it in a luxurious tomato reduction. Yum-yum!

Main course

For the main event there are different types of Indian foods and each one is cooked differently so here is a breakdown of what these popular dishes mean.

Tandoori

A tandoor is an authentic clay oven that reaches unimaginable hot temperatures from burning either charcoal or or firewood. This traditional way of cooking brings out wonderful natural flavours of meats, seafood and vegetables.

Tikka

Tikka is a dish which dates far back to the Mughal dynasty. Meat or vegetables are marinated in specially chosen spices and yogurt and then cooked to perfection in a Tandoor.

Biryani

Biryani is thought of originated in West Asia but has been a popular dish in India since the 1300’s. Traditionally made with long grain brown rice, it has since been modernised and replaces with fragrant basmati rice. Biryani is different in every region of India but it essentially an aromatic rice dish with an array of spices and served with meat or vegetables.

Desserts

Not often is Indian cuisine associated with desserts as curries and spices usually steal the show. But homemade Indian desserts are something of a marvel.

Gulab Jamun

A sweet dessert that has a base of solid milk. Originating in India, it has long since become popular in other counties such as Nepal, Maldives and Pakistan. A must try for a traditional Indian foodie.

Jalebi

A very popular Indian sweet snack that resembles a pretzel which has been deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup. It goes by many other names so look out for jilapi, zulbia, jerry, mushabakor zalabia.

Go out and have try lots of different Indian dishes at Mumbai Maska Indian Restaurant in Chingford, they’ll continue to amaze you with their aromas, flavours and beauty!