Indian pickles, which come in a variety of fruit and vegetable flavours and combinations, such as mango, lime, carrot, cauliflower, ginger and eggplant. Achars can be hot or mild.

Beef curry with naan and papadums

Beef curry with naan and papadums by Orderinchaos (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Basmati Rice (see also Pilau Rice below)

A fragrant variety of long grain rice traditionally grown in North India and Pakistan, which is white and fluffy when cooked. A favourite to accompany takeaway curries.


This unleavened round flatbread, also known as roti, is a staple food in South Asia. Use them with your curry as a wrap, or break off pieces to scoop up the meat and gravy.

Indian Chutney

Made from almost any combination of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, chutneys are like a coarse jam, often used as a dipping sauce accompanying Indian dishes. They come in different strengths from full-on chilli to sweet and mild.


An ever-popular, savoury snack/starter both in India and among western takeaway fans is the tasty onion bhaji – dough balls combined with chopped onions, spices and herbs, fried in oil until golden.

Mutter (or Mattar) Paneer

Popular as a vegetable side-order, or as a stand-alone dish, this mild north-Indian speciality consists of peas and paneer (cottage cheese) in a tomato-based sauce, spiced mainly with garam masala. Various other ingredients are sometimes added like potato, yoghurt, cream or corn.

Naan Breads

A leavened flatbread made of white wheat flour and yeast, often flavoured with various savoury herbs or spices, which is used for scooping up curries, stuffed with various ingredients like a pitta, or topped like a pizza. It is usually served hot.


Vegetable pakora

Vegetable pakora with chutney, by Edinburgh Blog, CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Delightful for dipping, pakora (literally meaning “small lumps”) are sought after snacks or appetisers both in India and in Britain’s takeaway establishments. The ingredients vary and could encompass anything from pieces of cauliflower and potato to paneer (soft cheese) or chicken. This is dipped in chickpea batter and then deep fried.


Thin, crisp discs, made from any type of flour such as black gram, chickpea, rice or lentil. The super-thin dough disks are either fried or cooked with dry heat until crisp, and served as an appetiser, snack or meal accompaniment. They are broken up and used as a dipper, or can be topped with curry, chopped vegetables, chutney or other condiments.

Pilau Rice

Rice flavoured with a variety of seasonings and spices while it boils, making it a tasty complement to Indian curry dishes. Some of the spices most commonly used are cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, onion and garlic powder, cloves, fennel and turmeric (which gives it a characteristic yellow colour).

Raita with cucumber and mint

Cucumber and mint Raita by Elisabeth Nara CC-BY-SA-3.0 from Wikimedia Commons


A cooling condiment made of yoghurt seasoned with either coriander, cumin, mint or cayenne pepper, and mixed with finely chopped vegetables (cucumber is a favourite), used as a sauce or dip.


A leaf-vegetable dish, usually eaten with roti or naan bread, saag can contain either spinach, mustard leaf, collard greens, chopped broccoli and so on, spiced up with onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne, garam masala and the like. It is sometimes made with potato as well, in which case it is listed on the menu as Saag Aloo (aloo meaning potato), and there is a cheese version called Saag Paneer.

What are Samosas?

Triangular-shaped fried or baked phyllo-type pastry pasties with a savoury filling, usually vegetarian (potato, onion, peas or lentils) or spiced ground meat such as lamb, beef or chicken. Best served with mint raita or chutney as a snack or starter.

There are dozens of different types and styles of Indian bread, so we have included only the most common in our list above. Others you may come across are Chapati, Phulka, Puri, Roti, Bajra Rotla, Thepla, Paratha, Naan, Kulcha, Bhatoora, Baqar Khani, Appam, Dosa, Luchi, Puran Poli, Pathiri, Parotta and many more. 

View our Indian Curry Heat Index Guide 

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