Looking for food that will wake up your tastebuds? Asia is full of vibrant and exotic food with flavors that will appeal to any food adventurer! From North to South, each region has a distinct collection of must-try dishes that embody the people in the area. Many are already familiar with the usual Chinese or Japanese (perhaps even the variety that comes in take-out boxes), but how about trying something new for a change—like Indian food?
If you want to try something that’s different from the usual, Indian food is the way to go. Contrary to popular belief, not all Indian food is spicy, and not all of it is curry. In fact, there are generally two types: north Indian food, and south Indian food. They are influenced by different regions in Asia, so you can tell the difference in most cases between these two types of food. However, if you’re a newbie and are foraying into your first taste of the good stuff, here’s a list of the top five must-try Indian food that you need to taste at least once in your lifetime!
Tandoori. Not just tandoori, but real tandoori chicken. Popular throughout India, this is basically a dish of chicken marinated in yogurt and tandoori spices. The name comes from the clay pot used to cook the chicken. When done the traditional way, it results in juicy and flavorful chicken that is charred in just the right places! It is often bright orange or red in color, thanks to the use of turmeric. Don’t worry, there are milder versions you can try; it’s not all spicy! Be sure to have it with warm naan bread.
Dosa. One of the hallmarks of south Indian food, dosa is a thin pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter. It is stuffed with fillings of vegetables, usually potatoes, and served with a variety of sauces called chutneys as well as lentil soup. Many people from south India eat vegetarian food, and have made ways to make it delicious and flavorful.
Palak Paneer. Paneer or cottage cheese is one staple of most vegetarian Indians, as it can be prepared in so many ways. Palak paneer consists of bite-sized pieces of cottage cheese that is cooked then stewed in a spinach-based sauce. This is a type of north Indian food that is enjoyed by many the world over.
Biryani. The rule of thumb with biryani is this: you will be able to smell it before you taste it, and when you taste it, it tastes better than it smells. Biryani is a fragrant rice dish that is a complete meal in itself, consisting of spices, veggies and some sort of meat. There are various kinds of biryani, often made with lamb or chicken.
Gulab Jamun. Didn’t think we’d skip dessert, did you? Gulab Jamun is a popular Indian dessert made of milk and sugar. These little balls are incredibly sweet and flavorful—one won’t be enough!