The menu arrives, the waiter looks at you and the time has come. You have to ask at an Indian restaurant and you don’t know where to start. We explain some keys to understand what the menu is about.
A daily meal in India consists of various dishes both in family and in the restaurant. When ordering in an Indian restaurant, in India or anywhere in the world, it is convenient to remember this way of eating, so as not to stay hungry or waste food.
Order in an Indian restaurant: do we share?
When you have to order in an Indian restaurant, it is best that each person choose a dish and share the food . If you only eat your plate, it will seem like a very varied diet. Remember that you must try the great variety of Indian breads and that it is not necessary to order them at the beginning of the meal , but that they are prepared at the moment as required by the client.
If you are one of those who do not support sharing, a good option is biryani , a dish of rice with chicken or lamb that is cooked for hours with a secret mixture of spices. If you want to avoid spicy, pulao is a similar preparation without masala . Another option for single-person light meals are snacks . The Indians are very accustomed to eating in the street and have created a great variety of dishes to peck. Samosas, pakoras, dosas or idlis are served in restaurants and although they are dishes for breakfast or a snack between meals, many times they will seem perfect to kill hunger instead of a big meal.
* Our advice: Always specify the spicy level you tolerate. Rinse several times not spicy if chili is not your thing.
Order in an Indian restaurant: The Thali
One option when ordering in an Indian restaurant is usually the thali. A thali is a tasting menu in the Indian way . Traditionally it was served on a banana leaf and in its most recent version in a stainless steel tray . You will find achar (preserves, eye that is very intense), legumes, often lentils, and one or two vegetable dishes without sauce and a curry that vary according to the regions and the season. In the north you will find recipes such as aloo jeera (potatoes with cumin), bhindi masala (ocra) or bainghan bharta (eggplants); in the south there will surely be sambhar (lentil-based soup) and rasam (soup based on tamarind juice).
When the restaurant is vegetarian it is completed with a plate of paneer (fresh cheese), while if it is not vegetarian there will be chicken in the north and fish in the south. Thali usually includes a dessert and a serving of yogurt . It is a good idea to get acquainted with Indian cuisine, but if you always ask for it, it can be a bit repetitive.
* Our advice: Always try thali dishes before giving them a bite . When cooking them for the whole restaurant it is more difficult for them to respect those who prefer less or no spicy food.