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Indian Menu Explained
  Balti   Balti is a style of cooking that developed in Birmingham twenty or thirty years ago. There are a number of theories on the origin of the term Balti, some say Balti describes the cooking pot and others say it refers to a style of cooking that evolved in Baltistan, somewhere on the North West frontier no doubt. I can?t actually say, but I?m willing to bet that what is served in a restaurant today, described as Balti, would be unrecognisable on the Indian sub-continent.
So in a ?traditional? Balti restaurant, everything is a Balti, and probably reasonably priced. In a normal Indian restaurant, anything described a Balti is usually on a separate section of the menu and a couple of quid more expensive. And that?s the main difference.
In a ?traditional? balti restaurant, the dish is served in a large balti pot and eaten with Indian breads, such as Nans, Chappatis and Parathas.
In some Indian restaurants, the term Karahi or Korai is encountered. This refers to the serving dish, which is made of cast iron on a wooden base and pre-heated, so that the curry sizzles in the serving dish when it is brought to the table. Don?t touch the Karahi or you will get your fingers char grilled.
  Bhuna, Bhoona   A Bhuna is a fairly dry fried curry containing onions and spices. It tends to be medium hot and fairly palatable to the uninitiated. Like Dopiaza, but less onions.
  Biryani   Biryani is a rice dish, cooked together with whatever meat or vegetable it is ordered with. The meat and vegetables are pre-cooked and then mixed with the pillau rice. It is usually served with a separate bowl of curry sauce. I suspect the origins of this dish lie in using up leftovers, although it may have evolved into a more splendid affair for banquets and feast in times gone by.
  Chapatti   Chapattis are a simple circular unleavened bread. They are simply made from flour and water and then cooked on agriddle on both sides. They are then subjected to a naked flame for a few seconds to complete the process.
  Dhansak, Dansak   Dhansak has its origins in a Parsee (Middle Eastern, Persia) dish and was probably a very special dish presented at a feast. The dish served in Indian restaurants today is based on the addition of a lentil puree to cooking process. It is described as a sweet and sour curry with a lentil sauce. The serving varies from restaurant to restaurant, but often expect a pineapple ring to be included in the curry for added sweetness and contrast. The strength depends on the chef or restauranteurs interpretation, so you need to take the advice from the menu. I have seen it described as mild, medium and hot. In my own local restaurant it is described as ?hot, sweet and sour?.
  Dopiaza, Dupiaza   Do means ?two? and Dopiaza means something like ?double onions?. Typically this is a fairly basic Indian restaurant curry, prepared as a Bhuna or Bhoona but with the addition of extra onions probably both in the cooking and as a garnish. It is also the same strength as a Bhuna which is medium, so not in the Madras league.
  Jalfrezi, Jalfrazi   Jalfrezi is ?hot? dish given additional heat by being cooked with fresh green chillis. It usually also contains visible onion, tomato and capsicum. It is the addition of the green chillis and probably addition of extra chilli powder that sets this dish apart from other typical curries on the menu. It is generally served as hot as a Madras or Vindaloo depending on the chef?s interpretation or mood.
  Korma, Kurma   Korma is the definitive mild curry on the Indian restaurant menu. It is typically prepared with butter and thickened with single cream and coconut milk to give a very, very mild creamy sauce. Spicing would be more subtle, and there would be more use of aromatic spices such as cardomom, clove and cinnamon rather than the more robust spices such as chilli, cumin, black pepper etc. If you ever have the misfortune to have to drag somebody to an Indian restaurant because they ?hate? spicy food, then this is the dish to steer them towards.
  Madras   Madras is a city in Southern India. In an Indian restaurant, Madras means a ?hot dish?. I doubt if the dish owes its origins to Madras at all, other than its name was chosen wayback in the mists of time to signify a fiery hot dish, just as the city of Madras sizzles in the fiery hot Sun.
  Nan Bread, Naan   Nan bread is a leavened bread traditionally baked in the Tandoor Oven. It is baked from a dough containing flour (usually Chapatti flour or wholemeal), yogurt, milk, sugar, yeast and ghee (clarified butter). They obtain a distinctive teardrop shape from being stuck to the side of the Tandoor and baking whilst gravity is stretching them. They are served piping hot, often spread lightly with melted butter or ghee and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
  Puri   Puris are Indian fried breads. They are served as an accompaniment or sometimes as the base for a starter, such a Bhuna Prawn on Puri.