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The ultimate Indian food glossary

Understand Indian food and cooking easily with our ultimate food glossary.


A bhaji is a spicy Indian snack. The main ingredient of this is made into dough with rice, gram flour and then flavoured with many herbs and spices. The bhaji is fried until golden and then served. It is most commonly onion based.


A bhuna curry dish is cooked ‘dry’ in hot oil. By cooking dry, the bhuna becomes one of the most flavourful curry dishes as the meat marinates in the own juices with the spices and herbs.


The name of biryani originally is of Persian derivative. The Persian word beryã means fried or roasted. This rice dish has a variety of lots of layers of spices and rice, and can involve additions such as chicken.


A chapatti is unleavened bread made very simply from whole grain flour, water and salt. This dough is made into thin discs which puffs up following a steaming using an open flame.


Chutney is a very common condiment used in Indian cooking. Flavours of chutneys can range vastly from any chopped fruit or vegetable which is cooked in vinegar, sugar and spices.


Daal is the Indian word for lentils and is often use to describe any lentil curry, be it stewed or steamed.


Hariyali is a general Indian term for ‘greenery’. Hariyali can signify the use of any green vegetables or herbs in a dish.


A karai is a thick, circular deep dish that has a shape fairly similar to a wok. A karai can be used for many different dishes including slow cooked meals like stews or even frying sweets and snacks such as samosas.


Kashmir, or Kashmiri refers to a region in India. A Kashmir curry, therefore, refers to a dish that originated in this region. A Kashmir curry is often very sweet as it is cooked with fresh cream, spices and mixed fruit.


Kulfi is one of the most famous Indian desserts. It is a frozen dessert made from evaporated milk, condensed milk and double cream. Although very similar sounding to ice cream, kulfi isn’t whipped therefore is more dense.


Lassi is an Indian yoghurt based drink. A plain lassi is blended yoghurt, water, salt, pepper and spices. Adding a variety of different spices, juices and fruits can create your own individual twist on the lassi.

Lime pickle

Lime pickle is a condiment which is used very often in Indian food. This is prepared by setting limes and chillies in direct sun for 2 to 3 weeks. The mixture will thicken and taken on a strong and powerful flavour.


Masala is a description of a mixture of spices. This mixture can be either dry or paste form and often consists of garlic, ginger, cardamom, coriander and onions.


Methi is a curry that is heavily flavoured with fenugreek, through either dried leaves or ground seeds. The unique taste of the fenugreek adds a depth to the curry with a smoky, almost caramel flavour.


The naga pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world, therefore any naga cury dish is sure to be incredibly spicy!


Paan is an Indian street food delicacy, which each recipe varying. A stuffed betel leaf, the Paan can be customised to your favourite flavours to upgrade it from its original purpose of a palette freshener.


Pappadums are a thin crispy Indian wafer. The crunchy delicacy is made from chickpea or gram flour is mixed with salt and peanut oil to create a dough and then deep fried.


Parathas are traditional Indian flatbreads that are commonly pan fried in ghee. A paratha is a key staple for any special occasion unlike a roti – its cheaper counterpart.


Raita is a condiment primarily used to cool the pallet, particularly alongside a very hot curry dish. It is yoghurt based with notes of fragrant coriander and soothing cucumber.


Rogan literally means to be cooked in oil at an intense heat. In terms of curry dishes, a rogan dish is normally a lamb or goat cooked in paprika and a tomato based sauce.


Sherbat is the perfect thirst-quenching and refreshing drinks for the summer. It is a syrup which is made from fruits and flower petals and served with water and ice.


Tandoori is a term to denote how meat is cooked. The meat for a tandoori dish must be marinated in yoghurt and tandoor masala. This gives the distinctive orange hue associated with tandoori. The meat is then cooked at very high temperatures in the tandoor, a traditional Indian clay oven.


Tikka is a traditional method of preparing meat. Tikka is quite similar to tandoori methods in that the meat is marinated in spices and yoghurt and cooked in the tandoor. A tikka is then brushed with ghee to give a unique flavour.