Indian cuisine is delicious, diverse, and steeped in tradition. It is truly an amalgamation of different ethnic influences, much like the country itself. With this short guide, hopefully you and your family can have a wonderful culinary experience. Since marrying into an Indian family nearly 8 years, I’ve been exposed to a world full of incredible food, great parties, and wonderful people.
Is it safe to eat at an Indian Buffet?
YES! Although I rarely suggest eating buffets for a myriad of reasons,eating at an Indian lunch buffet is a great place to start. It offers a wide variety of expertly prepared food that would take hours (or even days) for you to properly prepare at home. Financially, it is also a wise decision. Although a reasonable Indian buffet lunch can be found nearly anywhere for less than 10 dollars per person, dinner is usually based upon an a la carte menu which can easily bring your bill to well over $50 for the EXACT same food!
What do you eat?
Try it all! There is enough variety to fill the belly the biggest meat eater or the most devoted vegetarian. Although there are a variety of styles and influences, Indian food is typically broken up along two geographical areas; North and South Indian food.
North Indian Food
In North Indian cuisine, you will find wonderful breads and thoughtful preparation of vegetables and meats. North Indian cooking features the use of the “tawa” (griddle) for baking flat breads like roti and paratha (flaky Indian bread stuffed typically with vegetarian fillings) and the “tandoor” (a large and cylindrical charcoal-fired oven) for baking breads such as naan and main courses like tandoori chicken. Rice is typically created simply or as a biryani, which is similar to a rice pilaf. Common meat dishes include tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, and various curried meats (lamb curry, fish curry, etc.) in a rich sauce often with cream. Although each dish offers a certain level of heat, Indian buffets often keep the spiciness to a reasonable level to appease everyone’s palates. If you’re concerned about the heat, you can also add a little yogurt onto your plate which is a mainstay at all Indian buffets. Common vegetarian dishes include saag paneer (spinach with cheese), aloo (potato) dishes, and a wide variety of dishes that incorporate fresh vegetables like cauliflower, onions, and peas.
South Indian Food
South India has hot, humid climate and all its states are coastal. Rainfall is abundant and so is the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and rice. Andhra Pradesh produces fiery Andhra cuisine which is largely vegetarian yet has a huge range of seafood in its coastal areas. Tamilnadu has Chettinad cuisine, perhaps the most fiery of all Indian food. This style too is largely vegetarian. By and large, South Indian cuisine is perhaps the hottest of all Indian food. Meals are centered around rice or rice-based dishes. Rice is combined with Sambaar (a soup-like lentil dish tempered with whole spices and chillies) and rasam (a hot-sour soup like lentil dish), dry and curried vegetables and meat dishes and a host of coconut-based chutneys and poppadums (deep-fried crispy lentil pancakes.) No South Indian meal is complete without rice in some form or other – either boiled rice or Idlis (steamed cakes made from rice batter), Dosas (my personal favorite) or Uttapams (giant pancakes made from a batter of rice and lentil flour).
Can Indian Food Benefit Your Health?
Did you know?
The first Indian restaurant in the USA was opened in the mid 1960s.
Today, there are around 80,000 Indian restaurants in America.