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5 Steps to Enjoying an Indian Restaurant

Updated on April 17, 2010

Trying out new and different cuisines is always a nice thing to do with a boring Saturday afternoon, but should you go and visit a local Indian restaurant there are a few things you should know about. Contrary to the common misbelief Indian food is far from unhealthy food full of fat and hot spices. There are hundreds of different recipes you can try at home but without the courage or time to complete a traditional Indian dish there is one way to experience the variety of rich and delightful tastes of the Indian cuisine, visit a restaurant.

Without prior knowledge to the culture they're trying to become more comfortable with nobody is expected to take everything right at first, so I thought it'd be good to be aware of a few points before ordering in an Indian restaurant.


Mutton Masala with Rice and Pumpkin
Mutton Masala with Rice and Pumpkin

 1. Choose the right restaurant. Most of the time you get what you pay for, more expensive places tend to use better quality ingredients and prepare their dishes as real Indian recipes are meant to. This means making spices and gravies from scratch using only fresh and good quality components for the best taste.

2. Know what is on the menu before making an order. If you don't know what's what, ask. It is not rude trying to comprehend names in a different language or making sure the dish you're offered is not to hot for your taste. I'd rather ask ten questions before making a decision about a food I'm about to try than leave it there or add ketchup and pretend it's a really bad pizza.

3. Always wash your hands before sitting to the table, and though it goes without saying, it's more important with Indian food because a lot of dishes are eaten with bare fingers. It doesn't mean eating Indian food is unhygienic but makes clean hands even more important. If you feel uncomfortable eating with your fingers feel free to ask for cutlery, every Indian restaurant operating in a western country is used to that and they won't take it personally. Use your right hand eating these dishes because the left hand is considered unclean and attached to activities done in the restroom.

4. Try to pick dishes that complement each other. Rice and meat without gravy goes well with lentil and more creamy servings. There are very hot Indian foods, you might want to pick a milder side dish with one of those.

5. Go with someone more experienced. If you have friends who know more about Indian cuisine you have people to ask to come with you. They can suggest places they like or dishes you should try.

Chicken Korma, a mild dish with tomato and yoghurt
Chicken Korma, a mild dish with tomato and yoghurt

Picking an Indian restaurant is not really as complicated as it seems at first but as with anything else, some prior knowledge helps a lot and as an extra step I suggest you take a look around on the net for local restaurants to consider and perhaps look up a few recipes you might like, but always keep in mind that there are as many variations of a basic dish as many families there are in India.


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