Can anyone please give me a short description of the most common indian food/drinks you get in restaurants so that i will be able to order quickly without having to study the menu card for an hour? I'm going to visit india next month for the first time and i only know what a chai and a lassi is so far. Thanks for any info.
Which part of India are you visiting? The words could be different depending on the state in which you are in. Unless you are travelling to interior villages, you should be able to communicate in English within the restaurants.
For your quick ref
Chaaval - Rice Roti / Naan / Chappaathi - Indian Bread varieties Daal - cooked Lentils curry - all encompassing word for all Indian curry varieties Neembu paani - Lime juice
In most of the restaurants, you would find "Thaali" - A complete meal with assorted Indian food items including rice, roti, curry and sweet.
Tea (Chai), Coffee and juices could be found everywhere.
Idly - Flat cakes made of rice batter Dosa - Flat flakes made of rice batter.... ( Idly and dosa are sumptuous...try it ) Upma - podrige made of broken rice Kichdi - podrigde made of broken rice with vegetables. Vada - fried batter balls..
Side dishes for above Chutney - paste made of grains / coconut / mint...can be any ingredient Sambar - dhal preparation...
In North India
apmk has already explained above...
Lunch will be easy...in South India order for Mini Meals...has every thing in small quanitites.
order....Lassi - which is sweetened butter milk..good to beat the heat, no matter which part of the country u r in.
alu = potato matter = peas ghobi = cauliflower saag = spinach paneer = soft cheese brinjal = eggplant bhindi = okras channa = chickpeas paani = water curd = yoghurt chai = tea chini = sugar (chini ney = no sugar, tora tora chini = little sugar; I've been told these are incorrect but people will understand you. Likewise, "ki paisa?" is incorrect for "how much is it?" which is more like kitne paisa or more complicated but it will be understood. You need to know some counting to catch the answer of course.) parotha = another bread puri = deep-fried puffy doughy balls sabji = any little curry-like vegetable extra
Hence, in the above you have
paneer butter masala = soft cheese in butter with spices (masala = mixed spices) matar paneer = peas + soft cheese malai kofta = (kofta = baked little balls in a rich sauce, usually veg., can be meat) chana masala = chickpeas curry dal makhani = lentil curry, slightly buttery/creamy I think, very nice dal fry = ditto, but not so buttery ;) alu mutter = potatoes + peas paneer tikka = soft cheese curry
alu ghobi (potatoes + cauliflower) is a personal favorite. Bon appetit!
Haha no thanks Spitze, it's just what I picked up on my way and/or before I came, but mostly there really. I could think of some more but would have to think harder and/or look up some notes, the basics have been covered by the previous posters anyway, enough to get you going I'd say. To me it was the difference between pretty bland food in overpriced places or a wholesome cheap meal at the local's, where ordering in English wouldn't get you as far. Of course a lot of mime was involved all the same, plus the waiters would always be flabbergasted if you'd stick around for another cigarette and one more coffee etc., I remember the bills just piling up (as you know at the simpler places they'll put the bill down after your meal and you're expected to leave).
For the dhal it struck me that what with the dozens if not hundreds of varieties us Westerners stand little chance of ever learning all the ins and outs of the matter ;)
Hehe I'm a vegetarian so no help there... sorry :)
I eat fish and ate plenty of it down south but it was usually at "meals" type of places where you eat what's on the menu, the banana leaf and all (that's what it's served on, not for consumption folks) (-- anecdote time: timewarping from the deep south to Calcutta one time you should have seen the look on the restaurant folks at a westerner eating with his hands) so you'd just get fish, I don't know the words for it.
As a kid lamb curries were one of my favorites but I have no idea what to call them in any Indian language. You fill it in Spitze!
btw In Kerala they would serve sweet deep-fried big doughy dark balls for snacks, anyone know what I'm talking about? Delicious, I'm sure I've got it noted down somewhere. They would also do a terrific coconut dish, dryish I think, not so much like a curry, you could get it for breakfast or lunch. Damn I forgot.
I'm going to visit North India. Thanks to everyone for the replies. Now i'm going to be able to survive. What do you eat when travelling longer distances by train? I would prefer to buy my own snacks before the trip instead of eating the stuff which is offered on the train.