23 Popular Indian Curries to Try From Across the Country

Table full of Indian food.
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If you love Indian food, chances are that you will have tried some of these popular Indian curries. However, you're likely to find the taste quite different in India, compared to the versions served by Indian restaurants in the west though.

Want to know more about Indian food? Check out this Indian food guide by region. Each region has its own distinct type of cuisine. Feeling adventurous? Do try eating Indian-style with your fingers!

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Butter Chicken

Butter chicken curry inside Karahi Indian Serving Dishes. North Indian food
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For better or worse, butter chicken represents Indian food worldwide. You'll find it ubiquitously on the menu at most Indian restaurants, served with fluffy naan bread. This bright orange Punjabi dish can be spicy or mild and has a very thick, creamy gravy. It's also known as murgh makhani. Three men from Peshwar, who fled to Delhi with their families after the 1947 Partition of India, are credited with bringing butter chicken to the world. They set up a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Daryaganj in Old Delhi (yes, it's still there), complete with a traditional clay tandoor oven in the center of it. The dish was so popular that the rest, as they say, is history!

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala.
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Another popular Punjabi favorite, chicken tikka masala consists of marinated pieces of chicken that have been grilled (in a tandoor) and then added to a thick creamy gravy. The result is a lovely smokey flavor. The word "tikka" means pieces or bits.

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Goan Fish Curry

Fish cooked in spicy coconut sauce most popular barracuda fish curry food in Kerala India.
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Fish curry (or fish curry rice, as it's frequently called) is a staple dish in Goa. It's one of the most common and cheapest curries on the menu there. The flavor is tangy and spicy, usually with a sweetish coconut base. Enjoy it at a beach shack on one of the beautiful beaches in Goa, and wash it down with a King's beer! 

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Pork Vindaloo

Pork vindaloo.
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Another typically Goan curry, vindaloo is a fiery, hot "sweet and sour" style curry. Great for chili-lovers, but it's best avoided if you don't like spicy food. Goans love to eat it with pork, but it can have any other type of meat in it. A bit of trivia: Vindaloo comes from the Portuguese term "vin d'alho," or garlic wine. It originally referred to a stew of meat, usually pork, and was made with red wine.

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Channa (Chole) Masala

Channa masala.
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A typical vegetarian curry made from chickpeas and tomato, Channa masala (also called chole masala) is relatively dry and spicy. It has a slight tangy sour flavor. The dish is versatile and is eaten as a main meal or a snack (chaat). Try it as a Delhi street food. As the main meal, it's popularly eaten with deep-fried north Indian bread called bhatura. 

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Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma
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This mildly spicy but rich north Indian curry features meat or vegetables marinated in a mixture of yogurt or cream, then cooked in gravy with coconut milk. Often, it will be served sweet, with the addition of jaggery (unrefined sugar). The dish also comes as a vegetarian navratan korma with nine different types of vegetables.

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Maacher Jhol

Maacher Jhol, Bengali fish curry.
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A light Bengali fish curry popular in Kolkata, maacher jhol usually has mustard oil as the base ingredient. It's a simple yet tasty dish that can be made from all different kinds of fish.

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Chicken Chettinad

Chettinad Chicken Curry in a Clay Pot Directly from Above Photo
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Craving a super spicy curry? Look no further than the kitchens of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu in South India, where this aromatic and fiery curry originated. The spices are dry roasted with coconut and then ground together. It will wake your taste buds up! If you're heading to Chettinad, The Bangala is the ultimate destination for authentic Chettinad cuisine, with family recipes handed down through the generations.

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Meen Moilee

Kerala fish curry.
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One of the must-try dishes in Kerala, meen moilee is perfect for palates that are sensitive to spice. This coconut-based fish curry is the signature dish of central Kerala. It's a variation of a Portuguese one-pot fish stew called caldeirada. The curry is made without the tart tamarind (kudam puli) common in other Kerala curries. If you're visiting Fort Kochi, meen moilee is a specialty at the famous Fusion Bay restaurant on KB Jacob Road.

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Palak Paneer

Palak paneer.
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If you're a vegetarian, palak paneer will probably be on your radar. This classic north Indian curry comes with a thick pureed spinach (palak) gravy and cubes of Indian-style cottage cheese (paneer). It's one of the most popular ways to eat paneer in India.

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Chicken Jalfrezi

Chicken Jalfrezi
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If news reports are to be believed, chicken jalfrezi has overtaken the likes of chicken tikka masala to become one of the top Indian curries in England. Well, it supposedly does hark back to the time of British rule in India, although its actual origin hasn't been confirmed. According to widely circulated stories, cooks made jalfrezi for the British to use leftover meat. However, some say it can be traced as far as the Mughal era in India. The dish is a stir fry of marinated meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, chilies, and spices. It has a thick, somewhat dry gravy. Jalfrezi is often made as a vegetarian dish as well.

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Dal Makhani

Image of kadhai-style serving bowl of homemade Dal makhani curry recipe, plate of garlic naan bread on turquoise, wooden chopping board, side salad, dish of mint and coriander dip, blue muslin, focus on foreground
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One of India's most popular dishes, dal makhani is a North Indian dish consisting of black lentils (urad) and red kidney beans cooked with spices, cream, and butter. Traditionally, it's cooked on a low flame overnight, although the increasing popularity of pressure cookers has helped decrease the cook time for this famous stew.

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Sambar

Idli,sambar,chutney-South Indian Breakfast
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A crossover into Sri Lankan and Burmese cuisine, sambar is a vegetable stew with a lentil base. The broth is often made from tangy-sweet tamarind and you'll find pigeon peas inside. It's often served with rice, idli or dosa.

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Kadhi

Kadhi Pakora
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Kadhi, sometimes called karhi, is a Rajasthani dish consisting of a thick gravy made with chickpea flour. It often contains pakoras (vegetable fritters) and a bit of dahi (yogurt) to add a tangy flavor. It's also common in Pakistan, and in some regions, you'll find other vegetables, like eggplant or okra. Like most curries, it's often eaten with rice or roti.

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Mutton Rogan Josh

mutton rogan josh, mutton curry, indian cuisine
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This flavorful lamb curry has Persian roots and consists of lamb or mutton in a pungent gravy, typically spiced with clove, bay leaves, cardamom, Kashmiri chilies, and cinnamon. Some versions may contain onions, yogurt, or tomatoes, although the authenticity of dishes containing the latter is disputed.

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Punjabi Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo
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Fried baby potatoes are simmered in a classic onion-tomato gravy in this Kashmiri curry, which was born out of famine in the 18th century. Initially, turnips were used in place of beef, but after the dish traveled to Kolkata, potatoes became the norm.

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Paneer Lababdar

Paneer lababdar, is a famous indian dish, served over a rustic wooden background, selective focus
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This popular paneer dish consists of creamy spiced tomato and cashew curry, loaded with onions and spice. The addition of a bit of sugar gives it a pleasantly sweet taste. It's very similar to paneer butter masala, but paneer lababdar has more texture thanks to the addition of chopped onions.

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Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta - Grilled Eggplant Curry
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If you love summertime eggplants, you'll love this dish. Made from minced fire-roasted eggplant mixed with tomatoes, onions, and herbs, baingan bharta has many regional variations throughout the country—for instance, in parts of Maharashtra, it's often served "raw," where all ingredients other than eggplant are uncooked.

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Mutton Paya

Mutton Curry or Or Masala Gosht or indian lamb rogan josh
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"Paya" means feet in Urdu, which are a vital component of this dish—the main ingredient are the trotters, cooked in a spicy, loose curry. It's a popular dish for festivals and celebrations, and the health benefits from the rich broth of often touted.

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Chicken Mappas

Chinese Fish curry soup, Mappas King fish curry with coconut milk cream
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This curry hails from Kerala and is made with thick, creamy coconut milk. While any protein can be used, chicken is the most common. It's a common dish for celebratory breakfasts in the region and is a good one for visitors with a low spice tolerance, as it's quite mild.

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Kadala Curry

Chickpea curry recipe , kadala curry
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A nutritious chickpea curry, kadala curry (or kadala kari) also hails from Kerala and uses a coconut milk base. You'll find onion, herbs, and warming spices like cardamom, ginger, and clove. Not surprisingly, it's a popular breakfast curry, served alongside puttu (a steamed "log" of rice flour and coconut) or appam, a pancake made from fermented rice flour.

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Kori Gassi

Chicken Kori Gassi, Mangalorean Chicken Curry with Rice in a Bowl Directly Above Horizontal Photo
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This chicken curry is a trademark dish of Mangalore's Bunt community along India's west coast. Like many regional dishes, it has a base made from coconut and mild spices. It's often eaten with a crispy roti made from rice flour.

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Nihari Gosht

Nihari Gosht with paratha, chutney, raita, and roti served in a dish isolated on dark background top view food
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Nihari is a slow-cooked mutton stew with roots in Lucknow, the largest city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Previously a dish made only in royal kitchens and served for breakfast, it's become a popular stew throughout the country, and you can find variations in most large cities.