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GoaCentral > Restaurants of Goa > Dining out in India

Dining out in India

Indian Cuisine

The Indian sub-continent is a culinary connoisseur's delight. Very few countries have such a varied cuisine. Indian cuisine needs to be savored to be experienced. If and when possible, the best introduction is eating at the home of an  Indian family.  A brief introduction with some of the common dishes ( with explanations)  that are served in Indian restaurants are listed below. Click on for more... 

Introduction Unity in Diversity The Curry
The Indian Meal South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine North Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
Indian Breads Mughlai and Tandoori Dishes Rice Dishes
Vegetarian Curries Egg & Chicken Dishes Lamb Dishes
Beef Dishes Seafood Dishes Desserts
Accompaniments Some Beverages Goan Cuisine


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Indian cuisine changes with its regions, with its people and with the changing economic times. At one time one could instantly identify the cultural heritage of an indian simply by looking at the food he or she ate. Today it is open to all. Eating out was once  taboo to the upper classes but today if there is one thing that unites Indians it is the food. However there are still some restrictions with respect to  religion and caste  preferences. 

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Unity in Diversity

The Hindus, the Sikhs  and the Zoroastrian Parsees do not eat beef. Pork is taboo to both Hindus and Muslims but  is popular in Goa among the Christians. Among Hindus, the caste at one time dictated the food habits-Even today  Brahmins  are to a large extent vegetarians ( the exceptions being the Brahmins from Goa, the Konkan and Bengal). Certain sub-sects of Brahmins do not eat vegetarian food if the food is cooked with onions and garlic. Most of the other castes in general eat meat  and this also depends on the region they come from.

India today has a very cosmopolitan attitude towards food and the populace is slowly beginning to experiment with other foods. Chinese food  is very popular in India, needless to say it is to a large extent "Indianised".

Indian food is spicy and most times is prepared  to be consumed "hot". Food is relatively expensive as compared to other countries and the sanitation issues vary with the type of restaurant. Apart from the reputation, the general overall impression gives an idea of what to expect with regard to the food and hygiene issues.

For western tourists, the real issue is the safety of drinking water and food.  If one sticks to bottled or boiled water and eats at reputable restaurants , Indian cuisine can be a very satisfying experience. Avoiding roadside food stalls is recommended.

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The Curry

For the un-initiated, the main dish of Indian cuisine is the "Curry". For the British the "Curry"  portrays the very embodiment of Indian cuisine and it is enormously popular in the British Isles with over 8000 Indian "Curry" restaurants. It is reported to have evolved from the word "Kari ", which is a local name for a leaf used in creating the curry; it also denotes a particular method of cooking in south India. Curry powder, an ingredient used to make Curries, commonly combines turmeric,  coriander, red hot chili pepper, mustard seeds, cinnamon, and cloves etc. , all roasted dry and ground together. 

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The Indian meal

Breakfast in India normally begins  with a cup of "chai" or tea  especially in North India and a cup of  coffee in South India.  Lunch varies depending on the ethnic background of the person. In North India, a flat bread such as " Chapatti" or "Roti" or  a "Nan"  (a leavened bread cooked along the walls of a " Tandoori" -- a brick oven ) is an essential component . In South India it is a  rice. Traditionally, food is eaten by hand, though forks and spoons are slowly getting popular. North Indian  curry dishes tend to be drier,  while south Indian curry dishes have sauces that  are meant to soak into the rice. If there is a meat dish, it will be the main course. The  common meats are chicken, lamb, goat, and seafood. Another essential component of a meal is "Dal" which are  basically soups of varying consistencies made of lentils, chickpeas,  or kidney beans.  Appetizers are a very modern addition to the meal, and are not widely served. The dessert component of a meal is variable and usually is  a sweet rice-based pudding called "Kheer". Indians do not  normally drink alcohol with their meals, but this is changing.

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South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

Those listed here are mainly light snacks that can be eaten as a meal, but are more popularly eaten at breakfast or at tea time.

IDLI (Steamed rice cakes)

METHU VADA (Deep fried pastries made with lentils)

UPMA (Cream of wheat cooked with onions, tomatoes and chilies)

PLAIN DOSA (Crepe made with fermented lentil and rice flour)

ONION DOSA (Plain dosa stuffed with onions, chili and cumin seeds)

MASALA DOSA (Crepe stuffed with dry vegetable curry)

MOONG ONION DOSA (Crepe made with moong beans stuffed with onions, chilies, cumin seeds)

MOONG MASALA DOSA (Moong Dosa stuffed with vegetable curry)

RAVA ONION DOSA (Stuffed with onions, chilies, and cumin seeds)

RAVA MASALA DOSA (Rava crispy dosa stuffed with vegetable curry)

RAVA CRISPY DOSA (Plain crepe made cream of wheat and rice flour)

ADAI ( Thin pan cakes made with assorted lentils and spices)

UTHAPAM (Thick pan cake stuffed with onions, tomatoes, and chilies)

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North Indian vegetarian cuisine

Those listed here are light snacks that can be eaten as a meal, but are more popularly eaten at breakfast or at tea time.

ALOO POORI (Potato curry served with  poories)

KURMA POORI (Potato  & Yogurt curry served with poories)

CHOLE POORI (Garbanzo curry served with  poories)

CHOLE BATURA (Garbanzo curry served with  baturas)

KURMA PARATHA (Potato  & yogurt curry served with  wheat bread)

DAHI VADA (Deep fried pastries soaked in a special yogurt sauce)

VEGETABLE SAMOSA ( flaky pastry stuffed lightly with spiced peas and potatoes)

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Indian breads

TANDOORI ROTI (Traditional Indian style whole wheat bread)

NAN ( Popular Indian style leavened bread )

CHICKEN / KHEEMA NAN (Nan stuffed with minced chicken / lamb )

GARLIC NAN (Nan with a touch of garlic )

KABULI NAN (Nan stuffed with cashew nuts and dried fruits)

BATURAS  (Leavened bread deep fried )

ONION KULCHA  ( leavened bread stuffed with onion)

PARATHA ( Multi-layered Indian style whole wheat bread)

POORI'S (Whole wheat flour, puffed bread deep fried)

GOBI PARATHA ( Paratha stuffed with spiced mashed cauliflower)

ALOO PARATHA (Paratha stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes)

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Mughlai and Tandoori dishes

This is essentially north Indian cuisine with its origins attributed to the Mughals. They are served  as the main item  at lunch or dinner .

TANDOORI CHICKEN (Chicken marinated in yogurt and mild spices, cooked in its own juices over red hot charcoal; roasted in the "Tandoori")

CHICKEN TIKKA  (Succulent nuggets of marinated chicken grilled in the Tandoor )

SHEESH KEBAB (Minced Lamb, seasoned with onions and herbs and broiled in the Tandoor)

BOTI KEBAB (Cubes of boneless lamb)

LAMB CHOPS (Tender lamb chops, marinated with ginger, herbs and freshly ground spices then grilled over charcoal in the Tandoor )

LAMB BOTI KABOB (Marinated lamb meat in morsel size pieces, skewered over red hot charcoal )

TANDOORI LOBSTER (Marinated and spiced lobster cooked in the Tandoor )

TANDOORI  FISH (Seasoned Fish -Sea Bass delicately marinated & broiled in the Tandoor)

TANDOORI  SHRIMP (Large juicy prawns marinated and cooked in the Tandoor)

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Rice dishes

These dishes comprise a mixture of  rice cooked with a variety of spices, vegetables and meats. They are eaten as a meal at lunch or dinner.

BASMATI RICE (Naturally fragrant long rice from the foothills of the Himalayas)

EGG BIRYANI (with egg curry sauce)

VEGETABLE BIRYANI (Basmati rice cooked with garden vegetables, spices, nuts, and cashews)

CHICKEN BIRYANI (Chicken marinated with spices and saffron, then steam cooked with naturally fragrant basmati rice.)

LAMB BIRYANI (Lamb cubes marinated in yogurt and garam masala then steamed baked with basmati rice)

MUGHALAI BIRYANI (made with either chicken or lamb and vegetables)

SHRIMP BIRYANI (Aromatic basmati rice and shrimp cooked with herbs and spices)

KASHMIRI PULAO (Aromatic rice cooked with dried fruit, peas and onions)

BEEF BIRYANI (Aromatic rice and beef cooked with herbs and spices)

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Vegetarian Curries

These constitute an essential part of the meal and are eaten either with rice or with an Indian bread, either a Nan, Roti or Paratha.

DHAL CURRY (Creamy lentils  spiced with spinach and tomatoes)

POTATO KURMA (Potatoes cooked with mild yogurt sauce)

MASALA ALOO GOBI (Cauliflower and potatoes cooked with  spices)

CHANA MASALA (Garbanzo beans cooked with onion and tomato sauce)

NAVRATAN KORMA (Mixed vegetables cooked in mild yogurt sauce)

AVIAL (Mixed Vegetables cooked with coconut and mild yogurt sauce)

PALAK PANEER (Creamed spinach and cheese cooked with mild cream sauce)

BEGAN CURRY (Eggplant grilled over charcoal, mashed then cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions and spices )

VEGETABLE KOFTA (Fresh blended vegetables with spices cooked with creamy sauce)

VEGETABLE VINDALOO (Fresh vegetables and potatoes cooked with spicy onion and tomato sauce)

VEGETABLE MASALA (Fresh vegetables cooked with special ginger sauce)

MUSHROOM MUTTER (Sliced mushrooms cooked with mild creamy sauce)

SHAHI PANEER (Ground cottage cheese, cooked in a spiced cashew, cream sauce )

MALAI  KOFTA (Cheese and vegetable rounds served in a mildly spiced cream sauce )

DAL MAKHANI  (Creamy lentils delicately spiced)

ALOO GOBI (Cauliflower and potatoes cooked with herbs and spices )

VEGETABLE KORMA (Mixed vegetables and Nuts cooked in cream braised curry sauce delicately spiced )

BOMBAY ALOO (Potatoes cooked in cumin seeds and fresh tomatoes in herbed spices )

ALOO MATAR (Potatoes and green peas cooked with onion and tomatoes; mildly spiced )

MUSHROOM KAJU MATTAR (Curried mushrooms with cashew nuts and garden peas )

BHINDI MASALA (Okra cooked with onions, Indian herbs and spices )

SAAG PANEER (Freshly creamed chopped spinach in mild spices & herbs with homemade cottage cheese )

MATTAR PANEER (Fresh peas with homemade cottage cheese in mildly spiced gravy )

PANEER MASALA  (Homemade cottage cheese cooked in mild spices and zesty tomato sauce with onions )

GAJJAR MATTAR  (Carrots and peas sautéed with onions and tomatoes with herbs and spices )

PANEER MAKHANI  (Our fresh homemade soft cottage cheese stewed in a creamy tomato sauce )

KADI PAKORA (Vegetable fritters cooked with onions in spiced butter milk sauce )

KARAHI VEGETABLE  (Fresh garden vegetables stir-fried with herbs and spices in a wok )

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Egg and Chicken dishes 

EGG CURRY (Eggs cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices)

CHICKEN  MASALA ( Chicken pieces in delicately spiced gravy with diced tomatoes)

CHICKEN KURMA ( Lightly spiced chicken cooked in an almond sauce with dried fruits)

CHICKEN VINDALOO ( Chicken and potatoes cooked with spicy onions and  a fiery red hot curry sauce)

CHICKEN KARAHI  (Chicken  cooked with ginger, green peppers, tomatoes and spices in an iron wok)

CHICKEN MAKHANI ( Shredded tandoori chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, butter and Fenugreek)

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA ( Chicken breast baked in a clay oven or Tandoor and blended in  with special sauces)

CHICKEN MUGHLAI ( Chicken cooked with eggs and special sauce)

CHICKEN DO PIAZZA ( Chicken cooked with chopped onions and tomatoes in a mildly spiced gravy )

CHICKEN CURRY ( Chicken pieces cooked with onions and tomato sauce )

CHICKEN CHILI  (Chicken cooked with bell peppers, red chili , onions with a dash of tomatoes and spices)

CHICKEN MOLEE (A South Indian specialty. Chicken cooked in ground spices with masala & coconut milk .)

CHICKEN SAAG (Curried chicken cooked with chopped fresh spinach. )

CHICKEN JALFRAZI ( Marinated chicken with fresh ground spices and sautéed with tomatoes , onions and bell peppers. )

CHICKEN BHUNA (Chicken prepared with dried spices with onions, ginger and garlic )

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Lamb dishes

KHEEMA CURRY (Minced and spiced lamb cooked with tomato sauce)

LAMB KOFTA (Spiced lamb rolls cooked with creamy sauce)

LAMB SAAG ( Lamb cubes cooked with creamed spinach)

LAMB VINDALOO ( Lamb in hot spices with potatoes)

LAMB CURRY ( Lamb cooked with rich sauce)

GINGER LAMB (Boneless Lamb cooked with special ginger sauce)

KARAHI LAMB (Lamb fried with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes)

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Beef dishes

BEEF CURRY (Beef pieces cooked with onions and tomatoes)

BEEF VINDALOO (Beef cooked in a fiery red hot curry sauce, a specialty of Goa)

BEEF KORMA (Lightly spiced beef , cooked in an almond sauce with dried fruit )

BEEF DO PIAZZA (Pieces of beef cooked with chopped onion and tomatoes in a mildly spiced gravy)

BEEF MASALA (Beef cooked in delicately spiced gravy with ginger, garlic and tomatoes)

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Seafood dishes

SHRIMP CURRY (Shrimp cooked with onions and tomatoes)

SHRIMP VINDALOO (Shrimp cooked in a fiery red hot curry sauce, a specialty of Goa )

SHRIMP SAAG (Curried Shrimp cooked with chopped fresh spinach)

SHRIMP KORMA (Lightly sliced shrimps cooked in an almond sauce with dried fruit)

CHILLI CRAB (Crab cooked with bell pepper, red chili, onions and dash of tomatoes and spices)

TANDOORI SHRIMP MASALA  (Jumbo shrimps prepared in ginger and garlic with masala sauce)

KARAHI SHRIMP (cooked with ginger, green pepper, tomatoes and spices in an iron wok)

FISH CURRY (Fish pieces cooked with onions and tomato sauce)

FISH VINDALOO (Fish cooked in a fiery red hot curry sauce, a specialty of Goa)

KARAHI FISH PALAK (Fish and Freshly chopped spinach cooked with ginger, green peppers, and spices in an iron wok)

FISH MASALA (Fish cooked in delicately spiced gravy with ginger, garlic and tomatoes)

FISH MALABARI (Fish cooked in curry sauce with coconut milk, mildly spiced )

FISH KORMA (Lightly spiced fish cooked in an almond sauce with dried fruit )

LOBSTER BHUNA (Lobster prepared with dried spices with onion, ginger and garlic )

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GULAB JAMUN (Two juicy balls made of cream of milk in scented light syrup)

MALAI CHUM (Sweet cottage cheese cake with cream filling and cherry)

GAJJAR KA HALVA (Carrot cake with cashews and raisins)

RAS MALAI (Cottage cheese cake in custard cream sauce)

KULFI  (Milk ice-cream , mango / pistachio )

KHEER (Sweet rice pudding)

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RAITA (Cool whipped yogurt with cucumbers and tomatoes)

ACHAR (Indian pickles)

MANGO CHUTNEY ( Mango puree , spiced)


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LASSI ( fresh yogurt shake-salty or sweet)


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