In India the main dish is usually a vegetable, meat, or pulse curry with rice and/or some form of bread. Rice is the typical accompaniment in South India while in the North wheat-based breads such as chapati and naan are more common. Here are a few examples of the infinite variety you can find.
Thali is a meal made up of a selection of various dishes. It simply means a round platter used to serve food.
The idea behind a Thali is to offer all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. According to Indian food serving customs, a proper meal should be a perfect balance of all these 6 flavours.
Dishes served in a Thali vary from region to region in South Asia and are usually served in small bowls, called katori. These ‘katoris’ are placed along the borders of the round tray – the actual thali; even a steel tray with multiple compartments is used.
Typical dishes include rice, dal, vegetables, roti, papad, curd (yoghurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. Rice or Roti is the usual main dish which occupies the central portion of the Thali, while the side dishes like vegetable curries and other aforementioned delicacies are lined circularly along the round Thali.
Vegetarian thalis are very typical and commonplace in Tamil Nadu canteens (and South India in general), and is a popular lunch choice. In some restaurants, a thali may include “bottomless” refills on all components of food, the idea being that one eats until fully satisfied.
Palak paneer is a vegetarian dish consisting of spinach, tomato gravy sauce and paneer in a thick paste made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic, garam masala, and other spices.
Paneer is a fresh cheese. It is an unaged cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.
Aloo gobi is a dry dish made with potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gobi) and Indian spices.
It is yellowish in color, due to the use of turmeric, and occasionally contains kalonji and curry leaves. Other common ingredients include garlic, ginger, onion, coriander stalks, tomato, peas, and cumin.
A number of variations and similar dishes exist, but the name remains the same.
Malai Kofta is the traditional dish of northern India. Malai means “cream” and kofta “fried dumplings.”
There are many variations but in general, the veggie balls are made of mashed potatoes combined with paneer (Indian cheese).
The Malai is a creamy tomato sauce flavored with spices (cardamom, caraway, coriander, garam masala…).
Dal makhani (“Buttery Lentil”) is a popular dish originating from the Punjab region of India.
The primary ingredients in dal makhani are whole black lentil (urad) with red kidney beans (rajma), butter and cream.
The traditional preparation of dal makhani involves a series of time-consuming procedures, which can take up to 24 hours to complete. However, with the availability of modern cooking equipment, including electric pressure cookers, the preparation time of the dish has reduced significantly to 2–3 hours.
Biryani is a mixed rice dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is made with spices, rice and meat or vegetables.
The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, ghee, nutmeg, mace, cumin, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. Biryani and pullao are different.
In biryani the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered.
The basic baati is generally made out of wheat flour and semolina. Baatis can be baked in a gas tandoor or an electric oven as well.
Dal (lentil) is a spicy side dish made of lentils and tempered with spicy tadka.
Later the baatis are crushed and sugar or jaggery is mixed into them to make a sweet dessert.
Pulao is a spicy rice dish prepared by cooking rice with various vegetables and spices.
the assortment of spices, veggies and rice are first sautéed in oil and ghee and then cooked in pressure cooker as you would cook plain rice.
Biryani and pullao are different. In biryani the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered.
Bhindi masala is stir fried okra (ladies’s finger) mixed sautéed with onions and tomatoes and spices such as garam masala and other locally available ground spices.
Bhindi is one of the most popular and nutritious vegetables in India.
It can be served as a side dish in accompaniment with steamed rice and dal or with chapati
Butter chicken or murgh makhani is a dish made of chicken cooked in a mildly spiced curry sauce.
Chicken is marinated for several hours in a cream and spice mixture. The spices may include garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili.
The chicken is usually cooked in a tandoor (traditional clay oven), but may be grilled, roasted, or pan fried. It is served in a mild curry sauce that includes butter.
There are many variations on the composition and spicing of the sauce. Spices may include asafoetida, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and fenugreek.
Lamb vindaloo is an Indian curry dish popular in the region of Goa, the surrounding Konkan, and many other parts of India.
The name “vindaloo” is derived from the Portuguese dish “carne de vine d’alhos”, a dish of meat marinated in wine and garlic.
The Portuguese dish was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chili peppers with additional spices to evolve into vindaloo.
The Anglo-Indian version of a vindaloo is marinated in vinegar, sugar, fresh ginger, and spices overnight, then cooked with the addition of further spices.