Love Indian food but sometimes struggle with the menu? Set your spice radar with Time Out’s glossary of 50 culinary terms associated with Indian food
You could spend a lifetime studying Indian cuisine and still be surprised by every mouthful.
From the elegant dining and rich foods of the Mughal Empire to the simple Mumbai street food of today it is impossible to summarise simply.
Start to learn more about the food, and get a better understanding of menus in Dubai’s restaurants with this glossary.
Ayre: A white fish much used in Bengali cuisine Baingan: Aubergine Bateira, batera or bater: Quail Bhaji: Vegetables dipped in chickpea-flour batter and deep-fried; also called pakoras Bhindi: Okra Brinjal: Aubergine Bulchao or balchao: A Goan vinegary pickle made with small dried prawns (with shells) and lots of garlic Chana or channa: Chickpeas Chapatti: A flat wholewheat griddle bread Chaat: Various savoury snacks featuring combinations of puris, diced onion and potato, chickpeas, crumbled samosas and pakoras, chutneys and spices Chai: Indian tea. Dahi: Yoghurt Dahl: A lentil curry similar to thick lentil soup. Countless regional variations exist Dhansak: A Parsi casserole of meat, lentils and vegetables, with a mix of hot and tangy flavours Dhaniya: Coriander Dum: A method of steaming food in tightly covered or sealed pot. Ghee: Clarified butter used for frying Gobi: Cauliflower Gosht: Meat, usually lamb Gram flour: Chickpea flour Jal frezi: A sautéd or stir-fried dish. Kachori: Crisp pastry rounds with spiced mung dahl or pea filling Keema: Ground or minced meat. Kulfi: An aromatic Indian dessert made from frozen cream, milk and sugar Lassi: A yoghurt drink, ordered with salt or sugar, sometimes with fruit. Ideal to quench a fiery palate Machli: Fish Masala or masaladar: Mixed spices Methi: Fenugreek, either dried (seeds) or fresh (green leaves) Murgh: Chicken Matar, mutter, muter or matter: Peas Naan: Teardrop-shaped flatbread cooked in a tandoor Palak or paalak: Spinach; also called saag Paan or pan: Betel leaf stuffed with chopped ‘betel nuts’, coconut and spices such as fennel seeds, and folded into a triangle. Available sweet or salty and eaten at the end of a meal as a digestive Paneer: Indian cheese, a bit like tofu in texture and taste Paratha: A large griddle-fried bread that is sometimes stuffed (with spicy mashed potato or minced lamb, for instance) Parsi: A religious minority based in Mumbai, but originally from Persia, renowned for its distinctive style of cooking Pilau: Flavoured rice cooked with meat or vegetables Puri: A disc of deep-fried wholewheat bread; the frying makes it puff up dramatically, like an air-filled cushion Popadom or papad: Large thin wafers made with lentil paste, and flavoured with pepper, garlic or chilli Raita: A yoghurt mix, usually with cucumber Roti: A round, sometimes unleavened, bread, thicker than a chapatti and cooked in a tandoor or griddle. Roomali roti (literally ‘handkerchief bread’) is a very thin, soft disc of roti Samosa: A deep-fried pastry. Often filled with vegetable or mince. Tamarind: The pods of this East African tree, grown in India, are made into a paste that imparts a sour, fruity taste – popular in some regional cuisines, including Gujarati and South Indian Tandoor: The traditional Indian clay oven Thali: Literally ‘metal plate’. A large dish with rice, bread, containers of dahl and vegetable curries, pickles and yoghurt relishes Tikka: Skewered boneless meat cubes cooked in a tandoor. Vadai or wada: A spicy vegetable or lentil fritter; dahi wada are lentil fritters soaked in yoghurt, topped with tamarind and date chutneys Vindaloo: Originally a hot and spicy pork curry from Goa that should authentically be soured with vinegar and cooked with garlic. In Britain, the term has been misappropriated to refer to any particularly spicy dishes Xacuti: A Goan dish made with lamb or chicken pieces, coconut and a complex mix of roasted then ground spices