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! And, if you want to have a go at making the dishes below, click the link in each headline to be taken to a recipe.
For better or worse, Butter Chicken represents Indian food all around the world. 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 it has a very thick, creamy gravy. It's also known as Murg 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!
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.
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!
Another typically Goan curry, vindaloo is a fiery, hot "sweet and sour" style curry. Great for chili-lovers, but if you don't like spicy food it's definitely best avoided. Goans love to eat it with pork, but it can have any other type of meat in it. A little 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.
A common vegetarian curry made from chickpeas and tomato, Channa Masala (also called Chole Masala) is fairly dry and spicy. It has a slight tangy sour flavor. The dish is very versatile and is eaten as a main meal, or a snack (chaat). Try it as a Delhi street food. As a main meal, it's popularly eaten with deep fried north Indian bread called bhatura.
This mildly-spicy but rich north Indian curry features meat or vegetables that have been marinated in a mixture of yogurt or cream, and 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.
- Splurge at these Indian Fine Dining Restaurants in Delhi for a delicious meal!
A light Bengali fish curry that's 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.
- Try it at these Authentic Bengali Restaurants in Kolkata.
Craving a super spicy curry? Look no further than the kitchens of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu in South India, where this really aromatic and fiery curry originated from. The spices are dry roasted with coconut and then ground together. It will really 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.
One of the must try dishes in Kerala, Meen Molee is perfect for palates that are sensitive to spice. This coconut-based fish curry is the signature dish of central Kerala. It's thought to be a variation of a Portuguese one-pot fish stew called caldeirada. The curry is made without the tart tamarind (kudam puli) that's common in other Kerala curries. If you're visiting Fort Kochi, Meen Molee is a specialty at famous Fusion Bay restaurant on KB Jacob Road.
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.
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 real origin hasn't been confirmed. According to widely circulated stories, cooks made jalfrezi for the British to use up leftover meat. However, some say it can be traced as far as the Mughal era in India. Essentially, 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.