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Building an Indian Menu for Beginners

Updated February 2010

For beginners, eating an Indian meal might be somewhat of overwhelming let alone cooking or serving a balanced Indian meal.

Unlike western meals that are served into multiple course, almost all Indian meals are served at once in a thali.

Indian food is meant to be eaten with group. An Indian menu should consist of food spectrum or flavors; spicy, creamy, hot, salty, pungent, sweet and so on. As a diner, it is your responsibility how you mix those dishes to your liking.


Indian food cannot be eaten or served without a balanced combination of flavors. Thus, even though you like that curried vegetable, creamy chicken, or hot chutney, try not to eat it by itself. Combine them with basmati rice or Indian flatbread, such as such as poori or naan, or with other dishes.This will help you to savor combined flavor of the meal. Excess hot, spicy, and creamy food without a neutral starch is a recipe for indigestion.

There is basic rule about how to combine dishes to make a complete Indian meal. Each Indian meal should consist of starch (for example: rice and/or Indian bread), one or more main dishes (for example: meat dish or fish dish, or a lentil and vegetable combination) and some kind of chutney. Usually two vegetables and/or lentil dish will be served with meal; one ‘wet’ with lots of soup and one ‘dry’. For a simple meal there will be only few varieties of dishes while for an elaborate parties or festivals, more variety of them are prepared.

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