26 Must-try Indian Food Dishes

There are so many excellent cuisines all over the world, but one of the best has to be Indian. Indian cuisine is full of flavor, and hugely diverse, with a wide range of vegetable, meat, and sweet options to choose from. 

assortment of various indian foods

If you are going out to eat at a restaurant, then an Indian restaurant is always a good choice. In most Indian restaurants, you will find something that is suitable for everyone, and a lot of Indian restaurants are inclusive of those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. As well as those with certain dietary requirements. 

But to do this, most Indian restaurants have massive menus, and this can make choosing your meal quite difficult. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 26 of the best Indian dishes that money can buy. So, before you eat out at an Indian restaurant next, check out this guide to help you decide what to order. 

1. Aloo Matar

First up, we have Aloo Matar. This is a dish that is suitable for vegans, and it is made using potatoes and peas. Within Indian cuisine, there is a lot of variation within Aloo Matar, but they will almost always exclude meat and animal byproducts. So it is suitable for vegans. 

2. Basmati Rice

One of the best side dishes in Indian cuisine is basmati rice. Basmati rice is just like any other rice, and it is a disappointing dish if eaten alone. But, if you are ordering a curry, then basmati rice will always be one of the best side dishes as it soaks up the sauce from your curry, ensuring that you get to enjoy every single bite. 

3. Dal

Another Indian dish that has a lot of variation depending on where you order it from is Dal. Dal is a dish that consists of lentils cooked with various spices and served in a sauce. Sometimes this dish will look like curry, other times it will look like soup. But, it will always be delicious. 

4. Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta is a delicious vegetable dish. It is made using mashed roasted eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. Unlike other vegetable dishes which have a curry-like consistency, Baingan Bharta is served almost like Salsa in Mexican cuisine. So, to enjoy this dish, you should order some naan bread and scoop the Baingan Bharta onto it. 

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5. Masala Chai

If you are looking to try an Indian drink, then Masala Chai is perfect. Masala Chai is an Indian spiced tea that has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Different restaurants will use different spices, but some of the most common include ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. So, as you can tell, this drink packs a kick.

6. Murgh Makhani 

A lot of Indian dishes are very spicy, and this isn’t ideal for those who struggle to eat spices. Luckily, there are some delicious, milder dishes that you can choose, and Murgh Makhani is one of these. You may also have heard this referred to as butter chicken, and it is a mild and creamy curry for those who are sensitive to spice. 

7. Gajar Ka Halwa 

Undoubtedly, one of the best Indian desserts is Gajar Ka Halwa. This is a dessert that is created using grated carrot, ghee, sugar, milk, and nuts. It is very different from most Western desserts, but it is truly delicious, and something special to try next time you visit an Indian restaurant. 

8. Chole

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, then one of the dishes you have probably tried before is Chole. This is a chickpea curry that has a thick and lumpy consistency caused by the ingredients used in it. It is the perfect option if you are serving a lot of people, and tastes best when piping hot off the stove. 

9. Malai Prawn

Seafood curries aren’t for everybody, but if you like seafood, then Malai Prawn is a great choice. To create this dish, whole prawns are cooked in creamy coconut milk that is seasoned with multiple spices. But be warned, some restaurants serve the prawns with their heads still attached, so if you don’t like this, it is best to request them without. 

10. Thai Massaman Chicken Curry

Some of the best dishes served in Indian restaurants are those that have been infused with other cuisines, the Thai Massaman Chicken Curry is one of these. With Thai, Malaysian, and Indian influences, this curry is bright yellow and packed with flavor from the turmeric, cumin, and coriander used to cook it. It is truly delicious and is perfectly paired with rice. 

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11. Masala Dosa

Pancakes are a dish that tastes great when they are served with both sweet and savory toppings, and they taste great in Indian cuisine too. Masala Dosa consists of pancakes that are made with fermented rice batter, then served with chutney or spiced potatoes, depending on your preference. 

12. Malai Kofta

A great vegetarian Indian dish is Malai Kofta. This dish uses vegetables (potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, etc.) to create something that resembles meatballs. These balls are then cooked in a sauce and are then served alongside naan bread in most Indian restaurants.

13. Mughlai Karahi Gosht

So far, we’ve taken a look at some vegetable, chicken, and seafood curries, but now let’s take a look at a lamb curry. Mughlai Karahi Gosht is a lamb curry that is effortless to cook, and tastes like home. If you want a nice, warm meal that will make you feel joy, this is the one to try. 

14. Chicken Sukka

Most of the curries that we have looked at thus far have been wet curries, but Chicken Sukka is a little different. This is because Chicken Sukka is a dry curry. This curry contains lots of spices and uses coconut milk to give it a thick texture. So you get a dish that tastes like curry but is a lot neater to eat. 

15. Vegan Lentil Dal

We’ve already spoken about Dal, but some restaurants offer a modified version of this dish which is actually suitable for vegans. So, this is one to look for on the menu if you are vegan. 

16. Crab Curry

Crab curry is a dry curry, just like Chicken Sukka. Due to this, this curry is usually eaten with the hands, so remember your napkin if you order this dish. 

17. Tandoori Chicken

One of the best starter dishes in Indian cuisine is Tandoori Chicken. In this dish, chicken is marinated and then charred and served dry. This is one of the best options if you want a spicy dish that is clean to eat. 

18. Savory Dosas

If the Masala Dosa that we spoke about earlier didn’t appeal to you, these plain savory Dosas are a brilliant choice.

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19. Lachha Paratha

Naan bread is the most famous Indian bread, but an excellent alternative is Lachha Paratha. This is a thin flatbread that is great for dipping in your curry sauce.

20. Samosa

Samosas are one of the most common Indian dishes served at parties, but you can also get them in most Indian restaurants, and they taste delicious. Some will be served with meat, others will be served with vegetables. 

21. Papdi Chaat

When it comes to Indian street food, Papdi Chaat is the ultimate option. This is also a great choice if you are serving Indian food for a party, as Papdi Chaat is the perfect finger food. 

22. Rogan Josh

If you are looking for a medium spice curry, then Rogan Josh is perfect. This curry is usually made using lamb, and it uses dried red chilies to give the curry its color. A lot of people expect this curry to be very spicy, but in reality, it isn’t that hot. 

23. Lemon Rice

Basmati rice is rarely served alone, but lemon rice on the other hand can make an excellent dish. This is a great option if you are looking for an Indian dish to make at home because it can make an excellent weekday meal. 

24. Vindaloo

For a spicy Indian curry, you should always choose the Vindaloo. If you order the chicken version of this dish, then you will end up with a mild curry. But, if you order a regular Vindaloo, you will receive one of the spiciest Indian curries that exist. It will usually be made using pork. 

25. Naan Bread

Just missing out on the top spot, we have Naan bread. Whenever you visit an Indian restaurant, this is something that you have to order. Naan bread always tastes great, but it is even better when it is actually cooked in a traditional Tandoori oven. Plain Naan is amazing, but a lot of Indian restaurants offer variations of this side dish, so you should always keep an eye out to try something new. 

26. Chicken Tikka Masala

In the top spot, we have Chicken Tikka Masala. This is the dish that really made Indian Cuisine popular in Western countries, and it is easy to see why. This red curry is packed with flavor while remaining mild enough for those who struggle with spices. It uses tomatoes to give it a familiar taste, and it is incredibly creamy and smooth. Don’t forget to order naan bread to dip in the sauce because that’s the best bit.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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