Indian food?

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Aleforge

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Does anyone here love Indian cuisine? We have a few places that are open around my work and I have always been curious to try it out. However I was hoping for some guidance or suggestions on what to ease myself into as I have no idea what any of it is!
 

CBBaron

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Love Indian. It great especially if you like spicy foods. Since many Indians are vegetarian most restaurants will have a good selection of vegetarian foods. However you will seldom see pork or beef dishes.

I'm still quite new to the dishes but basically you will find several curries (gravies/sauces) cooked with different foods (chicken, seafood, chickpeas, potatoes, vegetables) served with rice that is often flavored with more subtle spices.

Just those simple things create tons of combinations, but there are lots of other dishes also. Most restaurants will serve the dishes spicy but not overly hot. However you can usually get it much hotter if you wish. My Indian friends usually make the food much spicier than the default restaurant level.

Craig
 

DUCCCC

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Absolutely love Indian food. Might be kind of tough recommending what you might try though, as I don't know where your tastes lie. Like lamb? I'd say go for a nice lamb Vindaloo. I had an awesome Shrimp Saag in Artesia, CA a couple years back, but that's got spinach and cream and was probably pretty fattening. I'd kill for some right now! Pea and potato samosas are about as basic and tasty as simple Indian food goes, and should be included in any order, dine-in or take-out. A nice Biryani, a rice and spices/veggies dish, is alway a good side as well. For a simple starter for the first timer, a basic chiken Tandoori or Tikka , both marinated and roasted dishes, are great and not too foreign for the uninitiated.

Hint, don't ask for any spicier than mild unless you're a fan of hot stuff. Me, I love the heat and get mine ordered HOT, but it usually leaves me sweating and with a runny nose from all the pepper.

Damn, I'm hungry now.
 

yermej

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I love it and know a little about it. Biryani (often with chicken or lamb) is not too out there - kind of like an Indian version of fried rice.

Palak Paneer is a creamy kind of dish made with spinach and paneer which is a cheese like farmer cheese or queso blanco. Eat it with lots of naan (an Indian flatbread).

Samosas are a good appetizer. A seasoned vegetable mix (usually mostly potato with onions, peas, etc.) wrapped in pastry and fried.

Masala Dosa is another good one. Kind of a giant thin pancake wrapped around a seasoned potato and onion filling.

Chicken Tikka Masala is a pretty common dish, but supposedly not really authentic. Pretty much just chunks of chicken in a curry kind of sauce with tomato and usually cream or coconut milk. Beyond that, it varies a lot, but it's generally tasty with nothing strange going on.

Those are available in most Indian restaurants and would give you a decent idea of some of the flavors you might not be familiar with (yellow curry, cardamom, coriander).

Lots of Indian restaurants have a buffet too which is a good way to try a lot of different things. Also, just ask the staff - they're probably used to making recommendations to people who are new to Indian food.
 
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Aleforge

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We have two, and the closest one to us is vegetarian only it seems. Which doesn't bother me, I think I am going to try 2 the following just have not decided,

Paani Puri - crispy mini puris stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, black channa, then topped with chutney and cilantro. Served with a side of spicy mint puri water for dipping.

Vegetable Korma - mixed vegetables with a hint of cashews and raisins, cooked in a creamy tomato sauce.

Bhindi Masala - Okra fried with onions, tomato, and green bell peppers with Indian spices.

Lunch special comes with 2 and one Daal, basmati rice, naan and dessert.

I have no idea what Daal means, is it some kind of soup?

I'm excited to try something new, I just hope they let me order by number since I don't want to try and pronounce anything.
 

cmdrico7812

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However you will seldom see pork or beef dishes.
Seldom see beef dishes? How about never. Cows are sacred in Indian culture so if you see a beef dish on the menu of an Indian restaurant it must be a Native American Indian restaurant not a Hindu Indian restaurant. Pork is pretty common, although chicken and veggie dishes dominate the menu. I love Indian food and my wife and I have gotten quite proficient at making it at home.
 

Laurel

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Seldom see beef dishes? How about never. Cows are sacred in Indian culture so if you see a beef dish on the menu of an Indian restaurant it must be a Native American Indian restaurant not a Hindu Indian restaurant. Pork is pretty common, although chicken and veggie dishes dominate the menu. I love Indian food and my wife and I have gotten quite proficient at making it at home.
Cows are sacred in HINDU culture. HWMBO's mom is good friends with a christian from India that only eats beef. It depends on the religion of the restaurant owners, and you'll occasionally find beef on the menu in Indian restaurants around here.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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ME! A good friend of mine is Indian (dots not feathers). His parents cook some great indian food from time to time and I never miss a chance to crash their dinner table :D. There is also an awesome Indian buffet place down the street from my office, and they have a KILLER butter chicken dish. Their tandoori chicken is fantastic as well, but I really enjoy the different chutneys they have to offer. I'd like to make a few dishes, but I need to set aside some time on the weekend...and right now between the nice weather and brewing that just aint happenin!
 

brrman

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The common beef substitute in Indian food is Lamb.

I love Indiana food - the combination of the many flavors is just awesome.
 

macabra11

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I LOOOOOOOVE Indian food! My wife makes insanely great and authentic dishes too, which spoils me. We make our own yogurt and paneer and blend our own spices, all things that make the dish so much richer and flavorful. Some Indian restaurants do these things, and other just buy their stuff pre-made (you can taste the difference). I suggest lamb vindaloo, tikka masala, and saag paneer. And don't forget the naan/roti! A couple warnings though...
1. DO NOT ORDER ANYTHING MADE REALLY HOT THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY INDIAN! I love spicy food, but the first time I tried Indian I felt like my intestines were bleeding magma for three days. Eaaaase your way into it.
2. If they have Barfi (an indian candy variety dessert - kind of like fudge, but not) - don't bother. It is frickin nasty. Really. The name says it all.
3. Go with a bunch of people and order a bunch of different stuff so you can share family style. Then you get to try a multitude of items.
 

korndog

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Whatever you end up ordering, order some Raita with it. It's a very cooling Yoghurt condiment that is an absolute must spicy dishes. Here's a good beginner menu:

Tandoori anything
Chicken Tikka Masala
Mattar Paneer - Peas and cheese (trust me)
Gobi-Aloo (Cauliflower, potatoes)
Vegetable Biryani (Rice)
Dal (whatever the Dal of the day is)
Nan and/or Onion Kulcha
Raita
 

atwaterville

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I love baigan bharta, a roasted eggplant curry, and Malai Kofta, a spicy red curry with veggie balls. These all go down well with garlic naan and a hefty bottle of Stone IPA.
 

CBBaron

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Seldom see beef dishes? How about never. Cows are sacred in Indian culture so if you see a beef dish on the menu of an Indian restaurant it must be a Native American Indian restaurant not a Hindu Indian restaurant. Pork is pretty common, although chicken and veggie dishes dominate the menu. I love Indian food and my wife and I have gotten quite proficient at making it at home.
I said seldom because Hindu is the majority religion in India and Hindus will not eat beef. Muslim is the next most common religion so pork is also uncommon. However that does not preclude from making a Beef or Pork Curry if the chef and or owner is not of these two religions. It would not surprise me at all to see them in a more Americanized restaurant.

From talking with my friends from India the most common meat is goat (at least in southern India). Lamb is the American substitute. :)

I've also learned that the cuisine varies considerably from different regions of India. Which makes sense as India is a large country with considerable variation in terrain and multiple languages spoken.

Craig
 

korndog

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From talking with my friends from India the most common meat is goat (at least in southern India). Lamb is the American substitute. :)

Craig
Correct. They use Mutton, which refers to a goat in India; here the term refers to mature sheep.
 

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Daal (Dal, dahl, dhal) are split, de-husked beans. Also the thick bean/lentil soup (also called sambar) made from the beans, which is mostly used as a sauce on rice.
 

DUCCCC

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We have two, and the closest one to us is vegetarian only it seems. Which doesn't bother me, I think I am going to try 2 the following just have not decided,...
I'm excited to try something new, I just hope they let me order by number since I don't want to try and pronounce anything.
Ok, so how was it?
 

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Do you prefer the spicy Northern cuisine of Gary, or the more subtle fare from Bloomington?
I LOL at that one. Thanks for making me shoot beer out of my nose. It was so ladylike.

We don't have Indian cuisine where I live. We also don't have Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Polish, German, etc. We have tons of Swedes who like potatoes, and one Italian restaurant.

So, when we travel, we try to have whatever exotic cuisine we can find. I like Indian quite a bit- it's not so much hot (like fiery Thai) as much as truly spicy, in an aromatic way. I like everything I've ever tried.
 

Jolly McStanson

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I LOL at that one. Thanks for making me shoot beer out of my nose. It was so ladylike.

We don't have Indian cuisine where I live. We also don't have Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Polish, German, etc. We have tons of Swedes who like potatoes, and one Italian restaurant.

So, when we travel, we try to have whatever exotic cuisine we can find. I like Indian quite a bit- it's not so much hot (like fiery Thai) as much as truly spicy, in an aromatic way. I like everything I've ever tried.

My great grandmother was Swedish. I miss her Swedish cooking.
 
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Aleforge

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Ok, so how was it?
Sorry I got busy right after lunch and didn't have a chance to give my report. Well I gotta say I wasn't super blown away, I was thinking everything I had would of been much better if it had meat in it! But that brings me to my fun little adventure. I called the order in, it was just one co-worker and myself and we had some things picked out. However once I connected I could not for the life of me understand a single word the guy was saying. It was so bad in fact that all he could get out of me was that I had never tried Indian food before. Even when I first connected all he said was "Hello" and I had to confirm I was even speaking to the eatery, which almost took some convincing of the guy on the other line that he in fact was running a restaurant.

So anyhow I tried to figure out if we could order certain items and get them bundled in with the lunch special. Well no luck, after going back and forth I finally settled on, "well I we have never had it, just make us something up that comes highly recommended". I don't know if he completely understood my request but he did manage to throw together 2 lunches and told me It would be ready in 15min.

So I ran down to the place and stood at the counter, I was greeted by a cheery enough Indian man (the same who took my order) and we continued our great fluent conversation. :) I think I said yes about a dozen times because I was so confused. Some of the yeses got a wide eyes glance, so who knows what I agreed too.

Anyhow I took the food back and we dove in, each sitting across from each other trying every part out of the 3 course meal and making comments. The biggest issue is I have absolutely NO IDEA what I ate since I didn't order it.

Well I take that back I am pretty sure the one item was lintel soup, which wasn't that bad just a tad bland.

The other item was some potatoes and bell peppers with rice drowned in curry sauce. It wasn't bad but after awhile the curry started to get annoying.

Then I had some potato and veggie filled dumpling which wasn't bad and some sauce to dip it in. I am assuming the Chutney.

On the side was a yogurt type crap that made me finally understand what old milk and a bodily fluid hand lotion mixture would taste like. (I almost lost it once tasted)

And some stuff that smelled very pungent that I would not dare try!

The entire time I had these two doughnut things, little balls of dough sitting in a weird sticky solution. I figured it would taste and have the texture of a cake doughnut with syrup dumped on it. OH HOW I WAS WRONG!

I picked it up and it was cold, soggy and very heavy, all the while dripping stuff off of it. I thought to myself (this is what an old dead mans .... feel like)

I tasted it, and it tasted no better then it felt, it was a sickly cloying sweetness! I didn't dare swallow and at this point was done with my taste test!

So I would say my first experience wasn't good, however I have not given up as this was a vegetarian joint. (voted best in Saint Louis 2008) Hoping some chicken might help things along!
 

korndog

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Sorry I got busy right after lunch and didn't have a chance to give my report. Well I gotta say I wasn't super blown away, I was thinking everything I had would of been much better if it had meat in it! But that brings me to my fun little adventure. I called the order in, it was just one co-worker and myself and we had some things picked out. However once I connected I could not for the life of me understand a single word the guy was saying. It was so bad in fact that all he could get out of me was that I had never tried Indian food before. Even when I first connected all he said was "Hello" and I had to confirm I was even speaking to the eatery, which almost took some convincing of the guy on the other line that he in fact was running a restaurant.

So anyhow I tried to figure out if we could order certain items and get them bundled in with the lunch special. Well no luck, after going back and forth I finally settled on, "well I we have never had it, just make us something up that comes highly recommended". I don't know if he completely understood my request but he did manage to throw together 2 lunches and told me It would be ready in 15min.

So I ran down to the place and stood at the counter, I was greeted by a cheery enough Indian man (the same who took my order) and we continued our great fluent conversation. :) I think I said yes about a dozen times because I was so confused. Some of the yeses got a wide eyes glance, so who knows what I agreed too.

Anyhow I took the food back and we dove in, each sitting across from each other trying every part out of the 3 course meal and making comments. The biggest issue is I have absolutely NO IDEA what I ate since I didn't order it.

Well I take that back I am pretty sure the one item was lintel soup, which wasn't that bad just a tad bland.

The other item was some potatoes and bell peppers with rice drowned in curry sauce. It wasn't bad but after awhile the curry started to get annoying.

Then I had some potato and veggie filled dumpling which wasn't bad and some sauce to dip it in. I am assuming the Chutney.

On the side was a yogurt type crap that made me finally understand what old milk and a bodily fluid hand lotion mixture would taste like. (I almost lost it once tasted)

And some stuff that smelled very pungent that I would not dare try!

The entire time I had these two doughnut things, little balls of dough sitting in a weird sticky solution. I figured it would taste and have the texture of a cake doughnut with syrup dumped on it. OH HOW I WAS WRONG!

I picked it up and it was cold, soggy and very heavy, all the while dripping stuff off of it. I thought to myself (this is what an old dead mans .... feel like)

I tasted it, and it tasted no better then it felt, it was a sickly cloying sweetness! I didn't dare swallow and at this point was done with my taste test!

So I would say my first experience wasn't good, however I have not given up as this was a vegetarian joint. (voted best in Saint Louis 2008) Hoping some chicken might help things along!
I'd give up. Probably not your thing. :)
 
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Aleforge

Aleforge

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You know what your probably right, I have this illusion that chicken / lamb or something will make all the things I tasted come alive. But then again I am sure all the basic flavors carry over so It would be a waste of money.
 

korndog

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You know what your probably right, I have this illusion that chicken / lamb or something will make all the things I tasted come alive. But then again I am sure all the basic flavors carry over so It would be a waste of money.
There might come a time when you feel like trying it again. You will probably like it then.
 
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