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Home to over 1.2 billion people, it isn’t a wonder that Indian food has managed to get a spot on the “Most Wanted” list of cuisines around the world. Indian cuisine, per say, is a misnomer, considering that not just the state, but the language, style & customs change every few hundred kilometres or less.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the top 10 most popular and delicious Indian dishes of all time.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Without a doubt, this had to top the list. When Kundan Lal Gujral first innovated this delicious charcoal burnt, clay oven cooked chicken in Lahore, little did he know that he had just created history. This fiery red, crispy-on-the-outside, succulent-on-the-inside dish has taken the world by storm ever since. Next came, the gravy cousins of the Tandoori Chicken — the Butter Chicken and the Chicken Tikka Masala. Cooked in spicy gravy, heavily laced with home-made butter, just the aroma of this dish can melt the heart of the toughest of souls!
This classic Indian concoction of rice and chicken has more variants than any other dish! Traditionally, chicken or mutton marinated in curd and fragrant spices is mixed with rice and slow cooked for hours. Modifications specific to various regions is what keeps this dish interesting. While some keep it classic, many restaurants resort to mixing the rice with a pre-cooked gravy for the moist flavoursome appeal and then add the meat.
Who had thought that this simple evening street fare would be robbing hearts all over the world? A mixture of yoghurt, fried bread, potatoes, spices and herbs, this dish pops up periodically in nooks and corners all over the world, especially Britain. Its simplicity and versatility makes it a roaring success. Panipuri or Golgappa is another extremely popular snack. These little fluffs of goodness can be found all over the world today.
Another popular Indian snack that has made its way into gourmet gatherings is the samosa. This humble fare of crispy fried dough stuffed with flavoured mashed potatoes has gone international with its versatility. These little flour pockets can be stuffed with practically anything that you suit your taste buds, and can be made in both savoury and sweet forms. Dip them in a tangy tamarind chutney or a spicy coriander and green chilli chutney and you are ready to transcend to food heaven.
South Indian Food
South Indian fare has set up firm roots all over the world. While many places serve South Indian food exclusively, most Indian restaurants abroad serve the basic rice flour idli and dosa. Soft, steamed idlis are not just extremely healthy, but are absolutely delicious with coconut chutney and sambhar. Crispy fried dosas are a breakfast favourite and can be made to accompany practically any gravy.
The Mughals were the absolute masters of the kitchen when it came to meat. They introduced the art of making kebabs to India and from here it was taken all over the world. A great favourite in Britain, kebabs are loved by patrons all over. Minced meat is combined with a variety of spices and then cooked in skewers over a charcoal fire. What results is succulent, delicious meat infused with a host of flavours that can enjoyed as snacks or with flat breads like roomali rotis or naan.
Best known as accompaniments to Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala, the naan deserves a special mention. Cooked in the same clay oven as the chicken, this is how the naan gets its distinct burnt, charcoal flavour which sets it apart from other flat breads. The flour can be kneaded with a variety of spices and herbs, like garlic, coriander, etc. One of the most popular versions is the butter naan which is not just kneaded with butter, but has a generous slathering on top when served.
The vegetarian version of meatballs, this can be made with gourd (lauki) or unripe bananas. They can range from mild to very spicy. Cooked in a gravy of tomato, cream and spices, the balls soak in the flavours and can be had with bread or rice. Originally a Punjabi dish, its flavoursome appeal has been adopted by many restaurateurs over the globe.
If you need your main course to be healthy, delicious and innovative, Palak Paneer is the way to go! Made essentially with spinach and farmer’s cottage cheese (paneer), this is nearly always the star of the table when it comes to vegetarian fare. Add a few naans or rotis to it and you have a complete meal, full of flavour and nutrients.
This Punjabi dish originated as a vegetarian variant of the butter chicken. A mix of lentils are slow-cooked with tomato puree and butter and is just yummy. This has given strong competition to the chicken curry all over the world and has slowly, but definitely made a place for itself.
One cuisine with multiple flavors! Yes, Indian cuisine is one of the best in the world and owns worldwide fanbase.
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