How To Order Indian Food Today Like An Indian

9September 2021

Q. Is it possible to order Indian Food Like Indians Do? A. Yes, when you do exactly what Indians do when they order.

In this short article from our Indian Cuisine Focus: First Bite Series, we’ll look at 11 tips for How To Order Indian Food Today, Like An Indian, Even If You’re Not to improve your chances of making great choices.

Introduction – How To Order Indian Food Today Like An Indian

If you’ve come to adore spicy food, Indian food will probably be your food of choice. Indian food has some of the tastiest dishes that you will find anywhere. 

On the other hand, while you’ll find your fair share of spicy dishes on any Indian restaurant menu, there are also many recipes to enjoy if all things spicy is not your preference. 

When it comes to ordering food like an Indian, Indians have a head start. This kind of food is part of their culture, being, thinking and way of life, and will have been so all their lives.

There is no point in pretending otherwise.

But it is possible to do some things as they do, to give us the best possible eating out Indian experience.

There are many places in Wembley where you may find excellent Indian food – go here for some options across Wembley, Brent.


01: Ordering Indian Food – Your Waiter Usually Knows!

One of the most valuable actions you can take, as a non-Indian, to improve your odds of finding something you like is to ask for the waiter’s opinion.

Waiters know their food, the dishes they serve, what works with what, and which foods, drinks, and dishes complement each other. 

Because of this, you want to engage with the waiters to get their advice. You can even share your tolerance for heat, spicy things, and other concerns with the waiters. 

Most waiters are proud of their knowledge, their heritage and their culture. They probably love that you don’t know and therefore have to ask. 

They love compliments too and appreciate knowing when they have done a great job. 

So ask them, quickly decide after they’ve responded, satisfying yourself about facts that affect you like, how big is the portion, is it sized for one or more persons. Please satisfy yourself that your choices are not too spicy for your liking. 

Check if your dish is best to eat with rice or bread. You may be interested too in if it is suitable for your children or youngsters. What about any older people accompanying you? Might it be too spicy for them?

As always, your waiter can help.


02: Ordering Indian Food – Look For Yourself Before Your Next Visit

It’s time to research beforehand when you are heading to an Indian restaurant and don’t know the difference between Tandoori Chicken and Butter Chicken. Catching sight of the menu early will prove helpful.

You want to go to the restaurant with a good idea of what meals you want to try. You can visit the website to check out their menu beforehand. 

Waiters are often best equipped to answer specific questions about how they cook their food. You might be interested in the ingredients, how spicy or mild the dish might be and what goes with it. 

And if for some reason they don’t know, they can pop into the kitchen and ask the chef! 

How cool is that?


03: Ordering Indian Food – Be Willing To Try New Dishes

It would help if you were willing to try new dishes at an Indian restaurant. Personal growth comes from being open to new things and ideas. 

I know this can be tough. As a creature of habit, I work hard to avoid future disappointment after I’ve found a combination of dishes I love. I then often prefer ordering the same as before.

For your first few visits to a new place, you may want to limit yourself to food with ingredients you know. This way, you can increase your chances of having a good experience.

However, over time, try to increase the range of foods you eat. It’s important to be adventurous, and you will need to risk not enjoying certain dishes while discovering new ones. 

During discovery, I’ve never found any dish to be so unacceptable that I’ve rejected it out of hand. That’s why speaking to the waiter or Indian friends is important or taking the time to learn more beforehand.


04: Ordering Indian Food – Share And Share Alike At The Table

In Indian culture, family members will order dishes that everyone will share. Sharing is worth doing, but you’ll want to confirm with everyone at the table beforehand, then order food that everyone can enjoy together. 

Not only will sharing save you money, but it will reduce the time it usually takes to discover those other unique dishes.

So sharing your food choices with others and finding out from your companions what they ordered is an intelligent move. Over time you’ll develop your unique sense of what works so you can better please yourself. 

That’s what living is all about.


05: Ordering Indian Food – Expect To Find Many Vegetarian Dishes

The majority of the Indian population are vegetarians. Because of this, you can expect to see a lot of dishes tailored to vegetarians on it. 

But clearly, also a significant number of Indian people eat meat.

If you’re a hardcore meat-eater, you might be surprised at the range of tasty vegetarian dishes. 

Example 1 – Kofta: If you love meatballs, you could consider Malai Kofta as an alternative, eaten with a flatbread or rice.

Example 2 – Chana Masala: How about scouring the menu for something like Chana Masala? This vegetarian dish gets made using chickpeas. 

Your waiter will probably tell you that it goes well with steamed rice, spicy hot pickles or perhaps fluffy Bhatura (bread).

Example 3 – Paneer: Paneer is cottage cheese, and Paneer, as a vegetarian option, gets served with other spices and flavourings to give it a delicate unique taste. 

Your waiter may recommend it with one of their flatbreads, Naan or Tandoori Roti.


06: Ordering Indian Food – Go For Specials

You will find many restaurants will have specials that they highlight on the menu. You can never go wrong with a restaurant’s specials.

Specials change – they allow Chefs to express themselves. They also will enable the restaurant to try new dishes and get feedback about their latest creations. 

These dishes are sometimes priced or called unique because of their ingredients or cooking method.

Either way, don’t ignore them. You may be saving money or experiencing something tasty and unique.


07: Ordering Indian Food – Know Your Tolerance For Spice

As mentioned, you need to know how much spice you like and can handle. Knowing your spice level is not about bravado.

It’s about considering the day you want to have after you’ve eaten. 

If foods are too spicy, you’ll get a tummy upset some time afterwards.

By being aware of your tolerance for spice and or pepper, you should figure out which dishes on the menu suit you best. Korma dishes are always mild, and on that, you can rely.

Here’s why knowing your tolerance for spice is essential. Each person’s stomach is unique. 

One person’s mild is another person’s hot, so we all vary as individuals. For example, people who experience stomach problems, like diverticula, will know what to avoid. 

Some sufferers seek to minimise creamy foods, while others will be wary of spicy foods.


08: Ordering Indian Food: Don’t Skip The Appetisers

In Indian culture, it’s normal to order appetisers. Always start your meal off with a tasty appetiser like samosas. Well-created samosas, like any other appetiser or “starter”, will do the job they get designed to do, and that is to whet your appetite.

Appetiser: Small food items served before the mean designed to increase appetite.

indian-meat-vegetable-samosa
Homemade Fried Indian Samosas

If you adore your starter, chances are you’ll be in for a real treat for the remainder of your main course. So your appetiser is about setting you up for a great experience and hopefully making the wait for your main meal much more tolerable.

There is one other purpose of the appetiser. It provides a natural break period from eating. Unless you’re ready to order at the start of your visit, you spend time choosing what to eat. 

Immediately after consuming your starter, you get a natural break in which to get to relax, talk, drink and people-watching before your entree (first light course of your meal) or main dish.

For many people, it is a valuable time to anticipate what’s next. 


09: Ordering Indian Food: Order a Masala Chai (Tea)

If you enjoy yourself before or after the meal, consider ordering chai. Chai is the Hindu word for “Tea”.

It’s a fantastic choice while waiting for your food to arrive or to relax afterwards.

indian-beverage-masala-tea
masala tea with different spices

Chai usually refers to spiced drinks.

For example, it might be black tea mixed with solid spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves or even black peppercorns.

It’s then usually mixed with milk and sweetened with honey or sugar.

Drinking this kind of tea might take a little getting used to, especially if you’re used to having herbal teas without milk.


10: Ordering Indian Food: Enjoy Some Bread

With your Indian dish, you’ll want to enjoy some bread. 

Quote: “Try everything, but in moderation.”

There are several kinds of bread from which to choose. Your waiter will always advise whether a Naan is preferable over a Paratha, a Roti, a Bhatura, or other available bread.

Bread is mostly starch and, in the main, so is rice. If you’re calories-conscious, you’ll already know that choosing either bread or rice, but not both in the same meal, is preferred.

You can use bread to soak up curry or sauce like a pro.


11. Ordering Indian Food: Befriend an Indian 

What are friends for if not to improve your life as you would theirs?

How much more would you learn and ingest by getting to know someone from this subcontinent?  

Think of all the questions you could ask, how fast you’d learn, and what best suits you to eat? 


12. Ordering Indian Food – Marry Into An Indian Family!

Ok, perhaps I’m joking, but one way to get access to great-tasting Indian food forever beyond eating it in a restaurant is to join an Indian family. 

Marrying into an Indian family is probably not as difficult as you might think – many cultures eat similar food – Many Sri Lankans, Guyanese and Mauritian peoples originated from India, and so have Indian traditions.

So why not explore your options? You may surprise yourself.


Conclusion – The Best Way – How To Order Indian Food Today Like An Indian, Even If You’re Not!

As you can see, there are plenty of things to remember when ordering at an Indian restaurant. Follow the tips above, and you should be able to order like a traditional Indian who is already well steeped in Indian culture.

If you have any tips or comments about ordering Indian food as the expert Indians do, please let us know in the comments below.

The previous article in this series: The 7 Most Widely Used Types of Bread In Indian Food.

The next article in this series:  Use These 8 Tips To Find A Great Indian Restaurant Nearby.

Don McDonald

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