Foodie Talk: Indian Staples

Whether you're walking the International Foods Aisle or reviewing a menu at an Indian restaurant, chances are you'll run across more than a few words you won't know. Here's a rundown of a few you're likely to encounter:

aloo – potato

asafetida – a flavor enhancer, often used in combination with turmeric in dishes like daal

Chana or Cholebaht – rice

bengan or baingan – eggplant

bhatura – leavened deep-fried bread that is characteristically soft, fluffy and chewy

bhindi – okra

chaat masala – a popular seasoning blend typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, Kala Namak (rock salt), coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper and red pepper

chana or chole – chickpea

chutney – a family of condiments often made with fruits, vegetables and spices that may be wet or dry; they may contain oil and are often sweet and sour

daal – a preparation of split lentils, peas or beans

Chutneygaram masalamasala means mixture of spices; garam means hotTypically this popular spice blend combines black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, black and white cumin seeds and black, brown and green cardamom pods

ghee – clarified butter

ghobi – cauliflower

kofta – meatballs made with beef or lamb or a combination; sometimes, especially in India, they are made with vegetables or fish. Kofta is typically seasoned with spices and/or onions and may contain rice, bulgur and/or or eggs as a binder

korma – a dish made with yogurt, cream, nut and/or seed pastes or coconut milk

murgh – chicken

naan – oven-baked leavened flatbread resembling pita, often served hot and brushed with melted ghee or butter; it is typically used to scoop other foods or stuffed with other foods

Murgh Tikka with Raitapakora – a fried snack

paneer – a fresh, non-melting cheese

poori – an unleavened deep-fried bread often eaten for breakfast or as a snack

raita – a popular yogurt-based condiment customarily favored with coriander, cumin, mint and cayenne pepper

Rogan Josh – an aromatic, red-colored lamb dish; rogan means red and josh means passion or heat. The dried Kashmiri chiles used to season the dish are de-seeded; the resulting spice has a heat similar to paprika

roti – unleavened bread

sag – spinach

samosa – a fried or baked pastry with a savory filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken

tandoor – a cylindrical clay or metal oven traditionally heated with a charcoal or wood fire

tikka – cutlet or piece, often of meat

urad – black lentil

vindaloo – in many restaurants (Western restaurants especially), this term is used to denote one of the spiciest dishes on the menu; it may have a sweet and sour flavor in addition to its heat and is often served with chicken or lamb

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