Hits 12203 | Created 2007-05-17 | Modified 2007-05-17
Here are just a few curry terms to get you going, if you get stuck.
The problem with Asian foods, is that there are literally hundreds of words for similar things - take India for example, where everyone speaks a few languages and there are more than a dozen in the country. So each region has its own dishes, which may be similar to a neighbour's, but have different names.
We can, then, separate curry dishes into three types - first, the regional, speciality dishes that you rarely find in your local restaurant - the Masala Dosas, Pakodi Kadhis and Barwa Baigans of the world; then the mainstream, breakthrough curries that everyone knows and loves - vindaloo, rogan josh, etc.; and finally the dishes that have been created in the west to mimic them - the ubiquitous 'Vegetable Curry', which you'll more than likely be served if your Australian auntie offers to cook you a curry.
Another problem is the fact that Indian languages are all written using phonetic scripts, and there is some disagreement about how to write them in a Roman script - the 'Dal' vs. 'Dhal' debate, if you like. So, go by the sound of things, and if two things sound similar, they are probably the same. This is also why India produces such amusing English menus - they often spell English phonetically too.
Achar : Pickle
Ahta : Flour used for chapattis - use wholemeal.
Aloo / Alu : Potato.
Am : Mango.
Amchoor : Dried mango powder. Use lemon juice if you can't find it.
Asafoetida / Hing : Dried gum resin from a plant root.
Adrak : Ginger.
Badaam : Almond.
Balti : I have heard various explainations for the origin of this, including a mythical 'Baltistan', but was reliably informed when in India that it simply means 'bucket'.
Basmati : Long grained rice.
Besan / Gram Flour : Flour of dried chickpeas.
Bhaji : Deep fried fritter.
Biriyani : A rice-based dish.
Bhuna : When the spice paste is cooked in hot oil.
Burfi : Sweet made with condensed milk.
Cardamom / Elaichi / Laichi : A tiny dried fruit. Mostly the seeds are
Chana / Chick Pea : Usually used dried, must be soaked overnight and
Chapatti : A thin, flat bread served with eveyrthing- 'More chapatis?'
Chat Masala : A spice mix.
Chawal : Rice.
Chole : Dish usually with tamarind and chickpeas.
Coriander / Dhania / Cilantro / Chinese Parsley : Herb of the parsley
family. Also sold as seed or dry powder.
Cumin / Jeera : Seed sold whole or ground.
Curcumin : The word for tumeric in many countries.
Curry Leaves : A plant with small, dark green leaves (about 1 inch long).
Dal / Dhal : Hindi name for all members of the legume or pulse family.
are: Arhar, Channa, Masur, Mung, Labia, Rajma (red kidney).
Dalchini / Cinnamon : Used powdered or in sticks.
Dhai : Yoghurt
Dhansak : Hot, spicy, sweet and sour dish with lentils.
Dopiaza : 'Two onions' - a very oniony dish.
Fennel Seed / Sauf : Sold whole or ground.
Fenugreek / Methi : Seed with bitter flavor. Sold whole or ground.
Garam Masala : A spice mix.
Ghee : Ghee is clarified butter, used for frying.
Gobi : Cauliflower.
Halva : A difficult to describe sweet.
Idli : A rice and lentil cake.
Imli : Tamarind - an odd fruit.
Jalebi : Very sweet sugary rings.
Jalfrezi : Stir fried dish with green peppers, chillis and onions.
Kaju / Cashew : A nut.
Karahi : It's like a wok.
Kofte / Kofta : Deep freid balls of vegetables etc. in a curry sauce.
Korma : Rich dish cooked with cream, coconut, yogurt etc. Usually quite mild.
Kulfi : Indian 'ice-cream' made from cream and sugar.
Lassi : Drink made with yogurt and ice.
Madras : Spicy dish with tomato, almond and lemon juice.
Malaya : Dishes cooked with coconut, chilli and ginger.
Moglai : Rich dish with garlic, ginger, yogurt and coconut.
Mustard oil / Larson : Oil made from black mustard seeds.
Mint / Pudina : Herb. Fresh and dried leaves are used.
Mutter / Mattar : Peas, basically.
Nan / Naan : Large flat bread cooked in a tandoor oven.
Pakora : Deep fried, battered, spicy vegetables.
Paneer : Indian cheese made from boiling milk and separating the curds
and whey (obviously).
Parantha / Paratha : Pan fried flat bread, often stuffed.
Pathia : Sweet, sour and hot dish.
Phal : Rather hot dish, rumour has it that it's used for sweating out fevers in India.
Pilau / Pillau / Pullao : Basmati rice with spices and colouring.
Pomegranate / Anar dana : Used as a powder.
Puri : Heart-stopping deep fried chapatis, basically.
Raita : Yogurt and vegetable dish - a side dish.
Rasgulla : Balls of semolina and cream cheese cooked in syrup.
Rasmalai : Cold balls of milk and flour cooked in cream.
Rogan Josh / Rhogan Josh : Tradionally lamb based, but always spicy and cooked with tomatoes.
Roti : Like a chapatti.
Saffron / Kesar : Made of stigmas of a flower grown in Kashmir and
Sag / Saag : Spinach.
Samosa : Deep fried triangles of pastry filled with various spicy things (potato often).
Tandoor : Large clay oven where breads are stuck to the side to cook.
Tej Patia / Bay Leaf : Usually used dried.
Turmeric / Haldi : Yellow powdered root.
Vindaloo : Originally a pork dish, but always very hot and usually with potatoes.