Chicken Tikka Masala is a popular dish that's served in Indian restaurants across Australia, but it's a dish that's been modified to suit western palates. Authentic Indian food uses lots of fresh herbs and spices, and although dishes vary depending on the region they originate from, there's no shortage of flavour in Indian cuisine. Here's an overview of four authentic Indian dishes to look out for the next time you visit an Indian restaurant:
This is a rich, creamy dish that's made with mutton and originates in the Kashmir region of northern India. The mutton is slow cooked in a flavoursome broth of coconut milk, garlic, coriander, cumin and red chillies. The tender meat is leaner than lamb and has a rich flavour that's slightly gamey but not as strong as venison. Enjoy this dish with rice and seasonal vegetables.
A popular Punjabi dish, zeera murg is a creamy chicken dish containing lots of garlic and ginger. The chicken is coated in a sauce made with yogurt and dry-fried cumin. Tossing cumin seeds in a hot pan until they start to brown releases their aromatic, slightly smoky flavour and pairs beautifully with thick, tangy yogurt. Zeera murg is best enjoyed with tandoori roti, which is a satisfyingly chewy flatbread that's cooked in a clay oven.
Gajar Ki Sabji
This vegetarian dish from Rajasthan is in keeping with the region's love of spicy food. It's a dry curry that consists of vegetables fried in butter or ghee with curry powder and red and green chillies. Fenugreek leaves are added toward the end of cooking, and these add a nutty flavour to the dish. Gajar ki sabji is typically made with carrots, potatoes and peas, and it's served with rice, fruit chutney and pickled vegetables.
Popular in the southwestern region of Kerala, these satisfyingly crunchy lentil fritters pack a spicy punch. Red lentils are cooked with fresh ginger, shallots, curry leaves and red chillies until the mixture is thick enough to be formed into patties, which are then fried in ghee until crispy. Dal vada is served with chutney, and tomato or coconut chutney works well with this dish. Enjoy these little fritters as a starter or light lunch.
These are just a few examples of the authentic Indian dishes that are available in most Indian restaurants. So, ditch the chicken tikka masala and ask your server about the traditional dishes they offer.