Dec 18

Rich North Indian Vegetable ThaliTo describe the best Indian dishes is not an easy task. Indian cuisine is rich in spices, tastes and influences from different cultures. And no dish tastes the same if you visit a different restaurant in another town.

But there are certain fixtures, for instance that mainly more vegetables than meats are used. The most popular geographical classification is dividing Indian food into North and South Indian cuisine (although West and East Indian cuisine (Bengali) exist as well).

South Indian cuisine is a bit lighter, with less spices, focusing on rice and coconut-based dishes – while North Indian food can be richer in cream, dairy products, (cottage) cheese or yogurts, spicier and with thicker sauces:

After all, there are more mountains in North India and the temperatures lower. So you better pack some more calories to survive the day, right? ;-)

To get an overview, here are my Top 7 Indian dishes:

7. Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi with Chappati RotiAloo Gobi is a simple yet very tasty dish. It mainly consists of Aloo (potato) and Gobi (cauliflower) coming together in a tasty tomato puree sauce. This sauce sometimes has a bit sour touch, which makes the whole composition even more delicious. A small dip of cream can but doesn’t have to be in the middle of your bowl.

In Goa you can also use Aloo Gobi as a benchmark dish. That means if you check the menu of any restaurant, check for Aloo Gobi first, as almost all have it. Depending on the price you see, you can judge the price range of the restaurant. While some local restaurants in Mapusa or Panaji offer Aloo Gobi already starting for Rs 30-40, in the tourist belt you pay usually around Rs 50-90, sometimes up to Rs 110 for that dish.

6. Dosa

Indian Dish - Masala DosaAhhhh, Dosa! Dosa is usually eaten by Indians for breakfast or as a light dinner. It’s more like an omelette or crepe, made from rice and lentils.

The crust sometimes can be huge and its filled with delicious vegetables, meats or gravies. Almost always, you have at least potatoes, onions, spiced in the typical way of the region as a filling.

Other Dosas are named after their main ingredients. So you can have Egg Dosa, Chilli, Dosa, Butter Dosa, Cheese or Masala Dosa. The choices are limitless or simply follow the fantasy of the chief. I found Dosa in Goa are moderately priced, starting from Rs 20-25 up to 50-60 in the more greedy/touristy areas.

5. Samosa

filled SamosaThis is more like a snack than a full meal. Samosa come in many varieties, shapes and sizes. To be true, it’s not only common in India, but in other South Asian countries also, as well in the Middle East.

Some call it also Curry Puff, as it is a stuffed pastry, mainly in triangular shape, with a filling of potatoes, chili, curry, peas, coriander, onion or fresh cottage or paneer cheese. They come in vegetable or meat variantes and are fried or sometimes baked.

The good thing about Samosa is that they are small, easily carried around with you, so they make for a perfect snack or appetizer in between meals. If they are from the day before, just use a microwave oven and they taste almost as new. ;-)

Depending on size, Samosa can costs anything from Rs 5-10 on local markets up 30-50 in more stylish restaurants.

4. Biryani Rice with vegetable Raita

Indian Biryani Rice with Vegetable RaitaThose two are almost 2 separate meals, but they go soooo perfectly hand-in-hand. Fried rice you have in all Asia in different varities, so Biryani Rice is simply the Indian rice specialty. Except here they use Basmati rice (the smaller and thinner variante compared to South East Asian rice) and a whole set of different spices.

It has the typical Indian spices, like coriander, cashew nuts, raisins, mint, ginger. So it’s often a bit on the sweeter side, but there are more hearty one or Biryani with meat, like chicken or mutton as well.

Raita is a yogurt dip or sauce, similar to Greek Szaziki, but it can have many more ingredients, like pineapple, raisins, cucumber, mint, coriander, spring onions – making it a perfect companion for Biryani Rice. Prices start from Rs 30-50, tourist prices are around Rs 60-120.

3. Chicken Tikka (Masala) and Tandoori Chicken

Indian Dish - Tandoori ChickenThis is another, now almost internationally popular dish. Tikka means actually simply ‘pieces’ of chicken. They are marinated in the typical orange/red sauce consisting of spices and yogurt. After that they are baked in a Tandoori oven, to give them the typical smoky taste. A matching sauce of tomato puree, mixed spices (masala) and cream or yogurt is usually added, or the meat chunks are simply eaten with Chapati or Naan Roti.

If done properly, the meat of the chicken chunks is very soft and you can dissolve it simply with your tongue, exploring layer by layer of smoky delight. Instead of ordering the (usually) boneless Chicken Chunks (Tikka), you can have as well a half or complete Tandoori Chicken, which is prepared in a similar way, but comes usually with bones and without the sauce.

The meat dishes have naturally the most differences in prices. Local restaurants serve Chicken Tikka for Rs 50-70, while tourists pay anything from Rs 80-200, depending on location and the size of the portion.

2. Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Indian Dish - Butter Chicken with rich gravyThis is a very popular dish worldwide and comes originally from the Punjab region of India. It is my favorite Indian dish for many years and I used to eat it already way back in Germany in Indian restaurants. The rich, thick, tasty gravy is like a poem on your tongue and the soft, marinated pieces of chicken usually melt in your mouth.

Eat that every few days and you will soon feel your wasteline expanding. I can tell you that first hand, as the last 2 months saw me gaining between 2-3 kg. Butter Chicken is definitely to blame for this. ;-)

Meat dishes like Butter Chicken start between Rs 50-70, but can cost easily Rs 100-150 in the more up-market restaurants.

1. Thali

Simple South Indian ThaliThali is actually not a real dish, but a full-blown meal. Thali simply means ‘plate’ and derives from the metal tray which is used to store small amounts of different food items in small bowls.

Before coming to Goa, I never heard of Thali before. Most Indian restaurants I know around the planet, don’t serve Indian food this way. You have standard dishes like the ones above and that’s it.

Yet, I find Thali is a great thing in its own way. You get the full Indian experience and can try several diverse foods in one go. There is rice, bread (Chapati and/or Papadum) and vegetables, marinated pickles, sweet or sour sauces, some yogurt or curd to neutralize the taste buds and sometimes rose water or milder sauces. As well the better equipped ones come with some sweet dessert or cake as well.

Indian Milk Coffee and Lassi - what a great team!Add a milk coffee or some plain water to it and you have a multi-course menu, all on one plate. Therefore I put Thali here as the number one, but your mileage will vary of course.

The cheapest Thali I found so far had a price tag of Rs 30, normal are Rs 50-70.

And what goes best with any of the above dishes? Of course a yogurt lassi, either plain, sweet or salted or with mango, banana or pineapple taste. Drink a milk coffee (usually more milk than coffee) Or try the masala tea. Ahhhhhh! Simply delicious! ;-)

Which Indian dish is your number 1? Did we miss any favorite food items here? Please help to add them via the Comment form below. Thanks!

Epicurienne – do you prefer Javanese or Indian food? ;-)

I have to go get something to eat now, so hungryyyyyy….

(Picture source info: all pictures were shot by me, except for #2,3,5,6 – those were taken from Wikipedia)

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written by Chris



18 Responses to “Try these 7 incredible Indian dishes for your instant OM! moment”

  1. AudreyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Before traveling through India, I would have said Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka as my favorites. But, after spending a couple of months in the northern and southern part of the country, dosas and thalis are now my favorites. I would wake up in the morning dreaming of my breakfast masala dosa.

    I’d also add chole (or chana) batura (a puffed fried bread with a chickpea masala) and chaat or snack food (samosa chaat, pani puri, etc.) – love the combination of plain yogurt, sweet, salty, sour. Oh, so delicious!!

    We once had a day full of Indian food exploration, from street snack food in the morning to home made at lunch to five-star refined for dinner.

    Luckily, I’m meeting people at an Indian restaurant for dinner tonight :)

  2. brian from nodebtworldtravel.comNo Gravatar 198.54.202.218 not found Says:

    Excellent dishes! I’m hungry just reading about them.

  3. ZahlenjongleurNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    I get hungry !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I LOVE INDIAN FOOD!

  5. speedwellNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    While visiting my company’s Dubai office, I ate in the excellent Aapam restaurant in the expat neighborhood there (am I spelling that correctly? aapam, appam, aappam, I forget!). It was a dosa-like bowl with stuff cooked in the batter and other stuff to dip it in. Aah, I am not doing a good job describing it, but my expat colleague and I did a terrific job eating almost enough to put ourselves to sleep under the table. Really, really good food.

  6. Amanda B.No Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I’ve tried almost all of it …….. just not in India. Some of my favorite food ( I’m a foodie, so that’s saying a lot!). Trying it in India is definitely on my must do list!

  7. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    oah india look the way the are dress and a day of activity so bad smelly.100% no indian food the taste like shit,a much of curry chili make stomach unhealty and the vege they talking bout is just like no colour is this vege or what?i mean so mean by that but that reality indian is dirty i think thousand time to eat indian food oooohhhh ;-)

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    ryanZoup, if you don’t like Indian food, that is okay. Just be aware, that this website is not for insulting people of other countries, so please refrain from it. Otherwise I have to delete those comments.

  9. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    for sure is up to you i just comment what is the fact,you delete it is your matter i am here just a reader and by the way i enjoy your blog that it! Otherwise thanks

  10. floridaNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    oh indian maybe i should try hehe

  11. Traveler DarrenNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Kadi chicken is my favorite of the real Indian meals. I also loved the samosas, especially for breakfast when traveling on the trains. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to spicy foods for every meal.

  12. kempoNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    thanks allot x( , you lot have made me put on 8lb in the last 2 months with your great ideas.
    thanks for nothing.
    lol, any more Indian food ideas to try please, i might as well make it 16lb i carry it well hehehe. >:) =))

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    kempo, I’m happy that it helped you to gain some weight. I gained also around 3 kg in the last 5 months, so I know how you feel. But what to do?

    Another great dish – and one of my favorites over the last couple of weeks – is called Shahi Paneer together with soft Naan Bread. Paneer is the fresh, soft cottage cheese, they cut into cubes or pieces and it comes with a rich, white coconut cream, cashew nuts on top; sometimes they even add fresh mushrooms – ahhhhh! Lecker! Don’t count the calories and carbohydrates though, it will kill you just thinking about it, haha! :D

  14. AvaniNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Speaking of an “instant OM” moment, check out InstantOm! Prepare for relaxation and then push the button. Tee hee!

    Your list is interesting. I think chicken tikka and tandoori chicken might be the best.

  15. StepaneyNo Gravatar HONG KONG Says:

    I’ve tried almost all of these dishes in different-2 countries.I live in Hongkong ,There is lot of good indian restaurant such as……Tandoor indian restaurant in central,Kohinoor indian restaurant in TST,Asra indian restaurant in Shatin,Curry & hurry in Mongkok.Some of my favorite food also.. Chicken Tikka (Masala) & Tandoori Chicken,Rogan josh.
    Very soon i am going to India for businees trip,there i really wanna try more authentic indian food.

  16. Tommy lucaNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    I like Indian food very much. I feel very proud to say that I have tasted all these 7 different dishes. Really i don’t have words to express about its taste.Its awesome.
    One of my favorite dish is butter chicken. My mouth started watering after see all this fantastic images. You made me too feel hungry now.

  17. sushruthNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    >:) >:)I want masaladosa

  18. anjellNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    i had experience to be with indians..thy came n our country..thy r gud..wen i taste thier food i relly love it..specially beryani..chicken kari..sabji..i used to cooked but the taste different..so how i wish to taste d way it is..
    i was happy to read this artcle.. ;;) =)) :) )

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