FOOD AND DRINK / Glossary of Indian Dishes

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The Independent Culture
All the following names are currently used by supermarkets to define their dishes, but many confused Namita Panjabi and some of the panel. In India, some dishes are precisely defined, such as rogan josh, patia, makhani, tawa masala. Others are not, and a description such as Kashmir, Bombay, Madras means very little.

BHAJIA as in onion bhajia. Often a misnomer. It should refer to a tempura of bite-sized vegetables, cooked in a light batter of lentil flour (gram flour), but regrettably it usually comes out as thick stodge.

BIRIANI as in lamb biriani. A much abused dish based on centuries-old court cooking. Pre-cooked meat with spicy gravy baked in the oven between layers of part-cooked rice, garnished with nuts, sultanas, dark-fried onions and yoghurt.

BOMBAY as in Bombay aloo (potatoes). There is no such thing in India. Here, a dish prefixed with the word will usually turn out to be very spicy.

DOPIAZA as in chicken dopiaza. A predominantly onion-based dish cooked slowly till melting brown and sweet. Do means two, piaza is onions.

JALFAREZI as in chicken jalfarezi. Origin Calcutta. Jal means hot, and farezi is a fry-up. It is a Monday lunch fry-up of pieces left over from the Sunday roast, with chilli, and perhaps some potatoes and other vegetables.

KASHMIR as in chicken tikka Kashmir. There is no such dish. But Kashmir-style indicates brick-red colour obtained from mild red chillis.

MADRAS as in beef madras. In India there is no such thing. It is the name adopted by Bangladeshi- run restaurants in Britain to mean very hot.

MAKHANI as in chicken tikka makhani (also known as butter chicken). Makhani means butter. Rich North Indian sauce of tomato, butter and cream, tasting sweet, sour and hot. Cooked in restaurants, not homes.

PASANDA as in chicken pasanda. Pasanda can be anything, though most often it is a dish which is creamy and delicate.

PATIA (or patya) as in chicken patia. Parsee dish from Bombay region, with a balance between hot, sweet and sour. Flavoured with molasses vinegar and a garam masala spice mixture of cinnamon, cloves, coriander, chillis.

PUNJAB as in chicken tikka punjab. Tandoori chicken originates in the Punjab. There is no such dish, but it usually means marinated in yoghurt.

REZALA as in vegetable rezala. Muslim-style dish with green chillis and cashew nuts.

ROGAN JOSH as in vegetable rogan josh. Rogan means oil, and josh means intensity. It should be an onion-based dish cooked slowly till the fat separates (it is often skimmed off). The gravy is an intense reduction of the juices of the onion.

TAWA MASALA as in chicken tawa masala. Dry spiced meat cooked on a griddle without liquid. From the Sind area.

VINDALOO as in beef vindaloo. A much mistreated word, based on a dish from Goa, where it is usually made from pickled pork cooked with palm vinegar, very hot dark red chillis, cloves, cumin, unrefined cane sugar, and prepared several days before eating. In Bangladeshi restaurants it is a code for very, very hot.