India is a wonderful subcontinent known for many things. Not only are thousands of cultures present in India, but there are over 900 dialects and languages that have emerged from the population of this nation. one of the most widely renowned things India is known for, however, is its food. Although the cuisines differ from town to town and region to region, there are many dishes that have gained more popularity than others. With that being said, here are ten of the best Indian foods you need to try, and can probably purchase at a local Indian restaurant near you.
10 Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken or Makhan Murg in Hindi is one of the most popular Indian dishes. Makhan, in Hindi, stands for Butter and Murg means chicken, which literally translates to butter chicken. Initially originating in the northern Indian state of Punjab, butter chicken features a beautifully cooked chicken mixed in with a tomato curry sauce, resulting in a popular curry that has gained international fame. Butter chicken was first invented by accident in the Moti Mahal restaurant in New Delhi when leftover chicken pieces were mixed with leftover sauce. This dish is enjoyed with naan, roti or even with rice.
9 Dal Tadka
Dal Tadka is also a very popular Indian dish that has not only garnered domestic fame but also international fame. Dal Tadka was originally made with burnt charcoal to give it a smoky flavor but since then has changed to be one of the most simple dishes in the world. Making Dal Tadka is a simple process that involves steaming lentils or the dal, and then seasoning it with traditional Indian spices such as cumin, garlic, and ghee. Dal Tadka goes easy on the spices, just enough to give it a good flavor, but not enough to make it intolerable.
Next up on this list of the best Indian foods is a broad category of street foods known as chaat. Chaat in India is typically sold from makeshift stands on the sides of busy streets and is a popular dinner or snack for all sorts of people ranging from children to office workers to the elderly. Among the most popular types of chaats are Bhel Puri, Pani Puri, and Samosa Chaat. Although chaats are very susceptible to change based on the region you may be visiting, the aforementioned foods are common and can be found almost anywhere you go in India.
Next up on this list are the classic samosas. A samosa can differ in shape, size, and fillings based on the region but have the same basics no matter where they are found. Samosas are basically Indian calzones. They feature a crusty exterior that is deep-fried and is filled with a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, meats or lentils that are heavily seasoned. Samosas are served alongside sauces such as mint sauce, tamarind sauce, and spicy green sauce, which compliments the samosa well. Samosas are not only found in India and can be found in the Middle East too.
6 Masala Chai
Next is not a food, but rather a type of tea. One of the most traditional and most classic staples of Indian foods is Masala Chai. Masala Chai differs from the traditional British or American teas that most people are accustomed to. Masala Chai starts with fresh tea leaves derived from the tea plantations of Assam or West Bengal. The black tea leaves are then steeped in hot water and mixed with shredded ginger and cardamom seeds to give it a hint of spiciness. Following the brewing process, milk is added and it is served hot and fresh.
5 Tandoori Chicken
Tandoori chicken is another North Indian dish that may have been around back in 3000 BC. Tandoori Chicken derives its name for the vessel it's cooked in known as a Tandoor Oven. It is a cylindrical shaped oven that is powered by burning wood or charcoal. The Tandoor Oven is made of either clay or metal and offers a distinct taste to meals cooked within it. Tandoori Chicken consists of chicken that is marinated for a few days in a mixture of yogurt and tandoori masala, a blend of traditional Indian spices. Following this, the chicken is then cooked.
4 Matar Paneer
Next up is the classic Matar Paneer. In Hindi, Matar translates to peas and Paneer refers to a fresh cheese made in India, which is one of the main ingredients in this dish. Matar Paneer is a North Indian dish that consists of peas and paneer cooked in a mild tomato sauce like the Butter Chicken, except Matar Paneer is seasoned with Garam Masala, a blend of ground spices. Matar Paneer is traditionally served with Indian bread such as naan or aloo paratha, but is also eaten by some with rice. Sometimes, other ingredients such as potatoes may be added.
Coming from the Indian state of Gujarat is the Dhokla. Dhoklas are made with a fermented batter that is derived from split chickpeas and rice and can be eaten for virtually any course. Dhoklas are eaten in India as side dishes, for breakfast, as the main course and even as a snack at events such as parties and weddings. Dhoklas are best served with green mint sauce and a sweet tamarind sauce and are usually yellow in color. Dhoklas have many variations to them. They can be prepared with a variety of ingredients with different ratios of chickpeas within them.
2 Vada Pav
Next up is food that first originated as street food and is sold in restaurants across India and the rest of the world today, Vada Pav. The Vada refers to a deep-fried potato fritter that is placed between two pieces of bread, the pav. Due to this dish's resemblance to a sandwich or a burger, it is commonly known as the Bombay burger because of its origin in the North Indian city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. The Vada Pav is served with one or more chutneys such as green sauces and tamarind sauces. Alongside the Pav is also a green chili.
1 Rogan Josh
Finally on this list is Rogan Josh. Rogan Josh is a North Indian dish with Muslim influences and first originated in Persia or Kashmir. Rogan Josh is a meat curry dish that features a lump of red meat such as lamb or goat which is colored and flavored by alkanet flowers or roots and Kashmiri chillis. Rogan Josh is prepared by both Muslims and Hindus with significant differences in the way it is prepared. Rogan Josh is best served with naan or any other Indian bread. It should also be mentioned that Rogan Josh is a staple in British restaurants.