Let me preface this by saying that neither of us can even pretend to be food experts. But we do like to eat (a lot) and we loved the food in India. We've always loved Indian food and eat it pretty regularly at home, but as one would expect we discovered endless dishes we'd never tried or even heard of. Here are some things that we learned to help us decode the menus, that you might also find useful if you're heading to India. Before you're shocked by thinking we didn't know what naan was until visited India, let me preface this list by saying that we added some really basic stuff to the mix for the reader that may be totally unfamiliar with Indian food.
1. Naan - baked flat bread
2. Parantha - pan fried flat bread
3. Korma - a mild yoghurt based dish usually paired with vegetables
4. Madras - a very spicy kind of curry from Southern India
5. Malai - means cream, so something in a creamy sauce - usually a very mild dish.
6. Saag - means there are some some kind of greens involved like spinach or fenugreek
7. Tandoori - dishes that have been marinated in spices and baked in a tandoor oven
8. Vindaloo - extremely hot dishes made with ground chilies and spices over meat
9. Paneer - the dish will contain a kind of fresh non-melting cheese
10. Dosa - a thin sort of crepe usually dipped into sauces
11. Biryani - rice based dish
12. Gosht - some kind of meat based curry
13. Makhni - a dish cooked in butter with lots of creamy gravy that usually contains tomatoes
14. Tikka Masala - some kind of grilled meat in a tomato gravy - heat level varies
15. Thali - not a food but rather a style in which numerous items are presented in small dishes
While that definitely doesn't come close to decoding everything you'll run into while perusing an Indian menu, I hope what we discovered will help you a little. And if you're like me and can't decide what you want to try then I heartily recommend a thali. It's the perfect solution for the non-decisive eater. Brilliant India!