Indian Food In Britain

It’s no secret that Indian food has become increasingly popular in the UK over recent years. From the rise of the curry house to menus heavily influenced by Indian flavours such as garam masala and ginger, there’s no denying we Brits love our curries. However, this doesn’t mean that your local Indian restaurant is home to authentic dishes – In fact, many are anything but. The reasons why are simple: UK restaurants don’t have access to authentic ingredients or trained chefs from India who can cook up a storm with their native recipes.

Whether you’re looking for a new local eatery or fancy trying out your local Indian restaurant again; there are plenty of signs to look for when checking if it serves the best authentic Indian food possible.

A real Indian restaurant has a specialist chef from India

Indian restaurants employ a wide range of staff including chefs, waiters and cleaners. However, it can be easy to mistake which staff members are responsible for which dishes. At an authentic Indian restaurant, you’ll typically find one or two chefs in the kitchen at any one time. These chefs will likely be from India and have at least five years of professional cooking experience. If you see lots of chefs in the kitchen, this may be a warning sign that the dishes being served aren’t authentic. A kitchen full of chefs is often a clear sign that they’re cooking a wide range of different dishes. In contrast, the chefs at an authentic Indian restaurant will be focused on one region’s cooking and have the experience to do it justice.

The menu is full of dishes you’ve never heard of

Many Indian restaurants in the UK have menus that are heavily influenced by British tastes. As such, you’ll often find dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma, and Fish and Chips on offer. These are certainly delicious dishes, but they’re far from authentic.

When eating at an authentic Indian restaurant, expect to see dishes you’ve never heard of. If you’re with a group of people and you all try the same thing, you might find the dishes vary wildly in taste, spice level, and texture. This is completely normal and largely due to the fact that authentic Indian food is incredibly diverse. You’ll likely find yourself ordering different dishes at different times and sharing between friends as there’ll be something for everyone.

Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations

If you’re unsure what to order when eating at an authentic Indian restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask the waiting staff for recommendations. This is their job and they’ll likely be happy to help. While it’s best to avoid asking for recommendations if you’ve already decided on a dish, it’s worth asking if you’re torn between two or three dishes. You may find that the waiting staff knows the dishes inside out and can recommend something that you’ll love. They may even be able to explain the difference between the flavours, textures, and spices used in each dish.

The naan is soft and fluffy, not crispy

Traditional naan is soft and fluffy, not crispy. This is because authentic Indian naan isn’t baked in a hot oven like the majority of breads. Instead, it’s cooked in a tandoor oven. This type of oven is incredibly hot and makes naan incredibly light and fluffy. While you can find tandoor ovens in authentic Indian restaurants, you may also find that the naan is served slightly burnt at the ends. This is completely normal. If you’re unsure, just ask your waiter if the naan you’re being served is authentic.

The rice is fragrant and well-flavoured

If you’ve ever tried eating authentic Indian rice, you’ll likely have been blown away by the flavour and aroma. This is because authentic Indian rice isn’t washed, as it is in the UK. Instead, it’s left in its natural husk, which is referred to as “pregnant” rice. This means that the rice has a strong, earthy aroma and a sticky, starchy texture that helps it cling together when cooked. If you’re eating rice that doesn’t have these qualities, it isn’t authentic Indian rice.

You’ll likely find that authentic rice is served alongside your meal. If you do, make sure to give it a try; it’s worth leaving room for.

The meat should be tender and delicately spiced

Indian food is largely spiced with a mix of cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala. However, authentic Indian meat dishes are also delicately spiced; they won’t leave you reaching for a drink. However, this doesn’t mean every dish you order will taste the same; each type of meat will be delicately spiced in its own way. If you find that the meat in your dish has been heavily spiced and leaves a burning sensation on your tongue, it’s likely been over-spiced.

Summing up

Indian food is incredibly diverse and full of subtle flavours that may take time to get used to. If you’re new to Indian food, don’t be surprised if your first few meals leave you a little underwhelmed. If you’re unsure if the food you’re eating is authentic, keep an eye out for the signs listed above. Alternatively, you could always ask your waiter or waitress what dishes are authentic and what they’re best suited to. If you’ve found a restaurant that serves authentic Indian food, be sure to add it to your list of favourites and visit regularly. These types of restaurants are few and far between, but they’re certainly worth the effort.