No country uses a wider range of spices in its cuisine than India. Those spices give Indian food its distinctively complex fragrance and flavour, but they can seem like a bit of a hurdle for folks who haven’t cooked Indian food at home. But the most common Indian spices can be found in grocery stores – the difference is how they’re combined and used in recipes. It is very much a type of food for everyone. You can be sure to find a good curry house in any town also. You can also be sure from every end of the UK of seeing an Indian Restaurant.
Spinach with Yogurt & Chickpeas
This is a very typical dish. Part side dish, part sauce, this puréed spinach is my take on the Indian dish called saag. Thick, Greek-style yogurt is the key to getting the texture of this dish just right. You can buy it at most grocery stores, or make your own though it is a very easy dish overall.
What you can expect
True, there are ingredient commonalities: the spices used are typically a combination of turmeric, black pepper, chilies, cardamom, cloves, and the like. There is usually onion involved, sometimes tomato, and if there’s a sauce, it’s likely thickened with yogurt or cream (or both). But then it veers off into delicious tangents. You can be sure of this in any Indian Restaurant.
It’s definitely a regional style of cuisine
A brief preamble: It’s worth noting while the corpus of Indian cuisine is incredibly vast, the menus at Indian restaurants are dominated by what is called Mughlai cuisine, a category of north Indian food-born during the Mughal Empire – that’s laden with rich, gravy-based meat and vegetable stews. This is less a function of Mughlai cuisine being the best or most popular food in India, and more a function of the fact that many of the dishes within it use the same sauce (which, for a restaurant, makes them easy to produce in large quantities) and often involve meat (a seeming necessity for American palates). This is not to say the dishes aren’t delicious. It’s a reminder that Indian food has a lot to offer beyond just what you’ll find at these restaurants.
Typical on most menus – Rogan Josh
With most Indian dishes, you can select your choice of meat. When it comes to rogan josh, lamb is the only option. The key to its smoky and sweet taste is the base. It consists of onions that have been browned in oil or ghee (clarified butter) until essentially caramelised. This is as well as the heavy dose of bracing, warming spices like whole cardamom and clove. You might see on a menu that the dish has chilies, but don’t worry—the chiles used in rogan josh are usually mild ones. If you’re at a good Indian restaurant, your rogan josh might be finished with a touch of saffron – an expensive spice with a delicate, floral flavour.
Indian food is joyful to eat. It helps people connect with others while opening a new world of flavour. Don’t be afraid to explore and share it. If you need a little help, you can always ask the restaurant staff. Ask them about the restaurant’s speciality and their recommendations, then start there. If you’re craving delicious Indian dishes from one of the best Indian restaurants in Bristol, it helps no end from the beginning of you do your research. Looking for a good Indian restaurant is done best when you take your time.