Many people claim that the Indian Curry is officially the UK’s national dish, overtaking the classic Fish & Chips. In fact, there are curries which are known globally that even originated in the UK.
According to a recent survey, 76% of Brits order a takeaway once a week, with 17% opting for Indian.
However, despite Indian food’s prominence in UK cuisine, there are many people who have never tried it, whether it is due to the fear of it being too spicy or just playing it safe with their favourite Chinese takeaway order.
In this article, we will look at the 9 most popular Indian takeaway dishes with pictures to hopefully change your mind, or help you discover something new from the menu to order and try.
1. Chicken or Vegetable Pakora
Whether you go for the meat or veggie option, the Pakora is one of the UK’s favourite starters, and is highly recommended if you are putting together your first Indian takeaway order.
Deep-fried in batter for a crispy outer layer, with a soft, bread-like texture inside, and a delicious blend of spice and chicken/ veg as a filling. Vegetable Pakoras are usually filled with onion, potato, and spinach, although some takeaways may also use paneer, cauliflower, or even aubergine.
The Pakora’s main rival as the most ordered Indian starter (although I would personally opt for both), this triangular treat is great hot or cold. The Samosa can be deep-fried or baked, and the typical filling is potato, onion, and peas, although many takeaways also do a minced lamb version.
The Samosa can be dated back hundreds of years and is popular across India, Sri Lanka, and parts of the Middle East.
3. Bombay Potato (Aloo)
One of the best side dishes to order from an Indian takeaway is Bombay Potato (Aloo), and could arguably be eaten as main in its own right. The potatoes are cut into cubes, parboiled and then fried with a range of spices, and sometimes onion, garnished with fresh coriander.
Spices generally include garam masala, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, and usually a healthy measure of chilli for a spicy kick.
4. Naan Bread
Ordering a curry without naan bread is unthinkable for a lot of Indian food enthusiasts. This rich and filling bread usually means you will have plenty of leftovers, as eating a full one will leave you stuffed, so we recommend ordering one to share.
Although Naan bread is certainly associated with Indian cuisine in modern times, the first bread of this type can actually be dated back to the ancient Egyptians.
5. Pilau Rice
The most popular rice ordered in an Indian takeaway, usually coloured yellow with Turmeric, or occasionally with some pink and green food colouring, mixed in with standard white grains. This is a very light type of rice that packs plenty of flavour.
Pilau is a Sanskrit verb meaning ‘to stand on end’, relating to the separate grains of rice.
Related: Most popular Chinese takeaway dishes
Related: Most underrated Chinese takeaway dishes
6. Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)
If intense spice isn’t really your thing, but you still want a curry packed with flavour, then a Butter Chicken (or Murgh Makhani) could be the perfect thing to order from your local Indian takeaway. The thick, rich, and of course, buttery sauce is extremely moreish, and great for dipping naan bread into.
7. Chicken Tikka Masala
A close relative of the Butter Chicken is the Tikka Masala curry, usually made with chicken. Although similar, the Tikka Masala is made with a thinner tomato and onion gravy, although the colours are similar.
This dish was invented by a British Pakistani chef in Glasgow, Ali Ahmed Aslam, who needed to improvise when his kitchen was running short of ingredients. Creating the sauce using a can of condensed tomato soup, and whatever spices he had to hand. Well done, sir.
8. Rogan Josh
A signature dish of the Kashmiri region, the Rogan Josh is typically a lamb curry, although in the UK, beef is sometimes an option. This is a very aromatic, curried meat dish that sometimes packs a generous amount of heat, thanks to the Kashmiri chillies. The sauce is coloured deep red using Alkanet flower or paprika, and is extremely rich.
The base of the curry usually consists of cinnamon, clove, cardamon, paprika, chilli, onion, garlic, and ginger. This creates a very strong and distinctive aroma and it is certainly a curry that we would highly recommend for first-timers.
Hailing from the region of Chennai, the Madras is a hot curry that can be made with a range of meat, or paneer. In the UK, it’s most popular when made with beef.
It is made with a healthy amount of chilli powder and is the perfect curry to order if you are planning on working your way up to the even hotter curries on the menu, such as a Vindaloo or Phall.
This is a tomato-based curry and the flavour is very rich. The Madras often has a tanginess to it due to the addition of tamarind and fenugreek, and the dry-fried or roasted spices also give the dish a level of smokiness.
Related: What to order from a Thai takeaway
I hope this post has inspired your next Indian takeaway order. And if you end up with too much, check out our guide on reheating Indian food.