Terms Commonly Used in Indian Cuisine
Indian cuisine is traditionally spicy, complex and varies from region to region. Although Indian cuisine in the United States has been adjusted to serve the American palate, certain culinary staples such as naan, samosas and biryani can be found just as easily in the United States as they can on the Indian subcontinent. Here are a few terms for popular Indian foods:
Tandoori: A type of Indian cuisine cooked in a Tandoor, which is a clay oven which is placed over an open charcoal or wood fire.
Masala: A spice mixture consisting of garlic, ginger, onion and chili paste.
Curry: A general term that describes either a spice mixture or the cuisine in which that spice mixture is an ingredient. Indian, Thai, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi cuisines all have a form of curry.
Samosa: A fried or baked type of dumpling typically filled with potatoes, lentils, peas, coriander and occasionally chicken or lamb.
Chutney: A condiment made of fresh or preserved fruit or vegetables.
Pearl Millet: The most largely grown form of millet. It is the base for many Indian and African dishes.
Naan: A flat bread which is traditionally cooked in a tandoor. It can be flavored with garlic, onion, sesame seeds, raisins, cheese or numerous other spices or herbs.
Basmati: A variety of highly fragrant, long grained rice grown in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Chole: A vegetable dish made from spices and chickpeas. It is popular in India and Pakistan.
Biryani: A type of rice based dish that can include meat, fish, chicken, eggs or vegetables. It originated in Iran and was introduced to the Indian Subcontinent by Iranian merchants and travelers.
Vindaloo: A type of curry dish made from pork, lamb, chicken and occasionally potatoes.