Here, Eat This

Here, Eat This: A Beginner's Guide to Indian Cuisine

Say you've decided to be spontaneous and embark on a new culinary adventure, sampling a brand-new cuisine for the very first time. Good for you! You deserve a virtual high five.

But what do you order? This is a common concern among people who've either decided to try something new or are outright afraid of trying something new. You don't want your first foray into a confusing new cuisine to be inedible. I didn't know menudo was filled with cow stomachs! you may cry, or How was I supposed to know that five chile peppers on the menu meant that I was going to turn inside out from pain?

That's where our beginner's guides come in. When I'm showing a friend a new cuisine for the first time, I try to order the most straightforward yet representative dishes possible for them. I want them to have a good first experience, but also sample food that's just different enough to pique their interest in future dinners.

If you want to jump in head-first -- again, good for you! Otherwise, give the dishes below a try if you're venturing out for your first Indian meal.

Note: For ease of explanation, the dishes below are sketched out in broad, accessible language. This is not a dissertation. And with so many regions in India -- and South Asia, for that matter -- this is by no means comprehensive, nor should you expect to find every dish here listed on every Indian menu.

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Katharine Shilcutt