Looking at a menu for the first time at a place like Little India might be a daunting experience for those who’ve never had Indian cuisine before. There’s an understandable desire to decide upon a dish that will be enjoyed, but wondering what to order at an Indian restaurant when you don’t have the first clue what many of the words mean does present a problem – but one which we’re happy to help you with!
Learn The Lingo
It helps to know some of the terms surrounding Indian food an cooking. To be sure, you’re learning a foreign language (a few of them, actually), but they’re the tastiest parts of the language. Probably everybody has heard of chai by this point. Just don’t say “chai tea,” since it’s a redundancy.
You’ll often see dishes with the world “masala” in them. This just means they’ve got a mixture of spices worked in.
History & Geography
Some dishes have links to India’s ancient past. If you see the word “Mughlai,” for example, it’s referring to the Mughals who ruled India and to the style of cooking popular in those ancient courts.
Others are direct references to geographic locations where those recipes originated. Dishes with names that carry words like “Kashmiri,” “Amritsai” or “Madras” all refer to cities or regions on the Indian subcontinent, much like New England clam chowder identifies its origins and style.
Popular & Exotic
For the newcomer to Indian cuisine, there’s nothing wrong with trying popular dishes like chicken tikka masala or biryani for your first few outings. But don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone once you feel familiar with these dishes.
Start small with things like chicken jalfreizi and samosas, then get adventurous with dishes like vindaloos and tandoori lamb. And if you’re feeling like you want to bring some friends with you on your adventure, order up a thali to share with your nearest and dearest.
Little India is home to some of the best Indian food in Denver, and we’d like to help you enjoy eating it as much as we enjoy cooking it. Whether it’s in one of our two Denver locations or delivered to your home by ordering our Indian food online, let Little India be your culinary guide to the joys of Indian cuisine.