If you’re not familiar with Indian cuisine, there might be a few things on the table that are a little confusing. Here’s a look at three of the most common things you might find accompanying an Indian meal. Come into India Gate Restaurant to try a few!
Raita is a kind of condiment made with seasoned yogurt, and can be used as a sauce, dip, or salad. There are lots of variations on raita, but it’s commonly made with cumin and black mustard that have been fried and mixed with minced, raw vegetables. Cucumber is the most popular choice, but you’ll also see onion, carrot, pineapple, or papaya. Of course, there are literally dozens of ways you can prepare it, but if you see a pale, creamy, cold sauce on the table, you can probably use it to cool down any spiciness in your dish.
There are even more kinds of chutneys than there are raitas. Chutneys are an amazing way to invite possibility and flavor variation to any dish, and it’s not uncommon to be served several with a meal. One of the most common kinds of chutney is a fruit or vegetable relish that’s been cooked down, popularly mango, into a chunky, spreadable paste. The most popular chutney in Northern India is pudina, which is a bright green mint chutney made from pureed mint leaves, coriander, ginger, and green chilies, or some similar variation. Cilantro is also an extremely popular addition to a pudina chutney. The sweet, tangy brown chutney you might encounter is probably made with tamarind, which is a pod-based tropical fruit that looks kind of like a peanut or seedpod until it’s ground into paste.
Mukhwa is that colorful bowl of seeds you might be offered on your way out of the restaurant. It typically includes fennel, coconut, anise, and sesame seeds. The name comes from the words for mouth (mukh) and smell (vas) put together, because chewing this collection of seeds after eating will freshen your breath. You can spit it out after chewing, but swallowing will aid your digestion and provide you with valuable Omega 3 fatty acids!