Craving flavorful and aromatic Indian food but don’t know where to start on the menu? With so many delicious options to choose from, it can be tricky deciding what to order at an Indian restaurant, especially if you’re not familiar with the cuisine.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Chicken tikka masala, naan bread, samosas, and mango lassi are some top recommendations for Indian food beginners. Keep reading for a more in-depth guide on the must-try dishes at an Indian restaurant.

This article will walk you through the best items to order at an Indian restaurant if you want an amazing meal. We’ll go over popular main dishes, vegetarian options, breads, appetizers, desserts, and beverages that you should try on your next visit to your local Indian eatery.

Main Dishes

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken is a popular Indian dish that originated in the state of Punjab. It is made with succulent chicken pieces marinated in a flavorful blend of yogurt and spices, then cooked in a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.

The dish gets its name from the addition of butter or cream, which gives it a smooth and velvety texture. Butter Chicken is best enjoyed with naan bread or steamed rice. It is a must-try for anyone visiting an Indian restaurant.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is another beloved Indian dish that has gained popularity worldwide. It consists of tender pieces of marinated chicken, grilled to perfection, and then simmered in a creamy tomato-based sauce. The combination of spices gives the dish its distinctive flavor and aroma.

Chicken Tikka Masala pairs well with naan bread or rice and is sure to satisfy any craving for flavorful Indian cuisine.

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a vegetarian dish that features cubes of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) cooked in a vibrant spinach gravy. The spinach adds a beautiful green color to the dish and provides a healthy dose of nutrients.

Palak Paneer is a favorite among vegetarians and those looking for a lighter option. It can be enjoyed with naan bread or rice for a wholesome and delicious meal.

Chana Masala

Chana Masala is a popular North Indian dish made with chickpeas cooked in a spicy and tangy tomato-based sauce. It is packed with flavors and spices, making it a satisfying and hearty dish. Chana Masala is often served with naan bread or rice and can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish.

It is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans as it is rich in protein and fiber.

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer is a classic Indian dish that combines spinach (saag) and paneer (Indian cottage cheese). The spinach is cooked with a blend of spices and then mixed with cubes of paneer to create a creamy and flavorful dish.

Saag Paneer is a nutritious and delicious option for vegetarians and can be enjoyed with naan bread or rice.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is a popular Indian dish known for its bold flavors and vibrant red color. It is made by marinating chicken in a mixture of yogurt and spices, including turmeric and chili powder, and then cooking it in a tandoor (clay oven).

The high heat of the tandoor gives the chicken a smoky and charred flavor. Tandoori Chicken is often served with mint chutney and makes for a delicious and satisfying main course.

Vegetarian Dishes

Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes that are not only delicious but also packed with nutritious ingredients. Whether you are a vegetarian or simply looking to incorporate more plant-based options into your diet, Indian restaurants have got you covered.

Here are some of the best vegetarian dishes you can order at an Indian restaurant:

Chana Masala

Chana Masala is a popular North Indian dish made with chickpeas cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. The combination of spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala gives this dish a rich and aromatic taste. It is often served with rice or naan bread, making it a satisfying and filling meal.

If you’re a fan of chickpeas, you definitely shouldn’t miss out on trying Chana Masala!

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a classic Indian dish that features fresh spinach cooked with cubes of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in a creamy and spiced gravy. The vibrant green color of the spinach makes this dish visually appealing, while the creamy texture and mild flavors make it a favorite among many.

It pairs well with naan or rice and is a great way to incorporate leafy greens into your diet.

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi is a simple yet flavorful dish made with potatoes and cauliflower. The vegetables are cooked with a blend of spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander, resulting in a delicious and comforting dish.

Aloo Gobi is often enjoyed with roti or rice and can be a great option for those looking for a hearty and satisfying vegetarian meal.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a popular lentil dish that originated in the Punjab region of India. It is made with a combination of black lentils and kidney beans, slow-cooked with butter, cream, and a blend of aromatic spices. The result is a creamy and indulgent dish that pairs perfectly with naan bread or rice.

If you’re a fan of lentils, you won’t be disappointed with Dal Makhani!

Baigan Bharta

Baigan Bharta is a smoky and flavorful dish made with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices. The roasted eggplant gives this dish a unique smoky flavor, while the spices add a burst of aromatic taste.

Baigan Bharta is often enjoyed with roti or rice and is a must-try for eggplant lovers.

Navratan Korma

Navratan Korma is a rich and creamy curry made with a mix of nine different vegetables, nuts, and raisins. The velvety sauce is made with a blend of spices, yogurt, and cream, giving this dish a luxurious and indulgent taste.

Navratan Korma is often served with naan or rice and is a great option for those looking for a dish that is both flavorful and packed with a variety of vegetables.

With these delicious vegetarian options, you can explore the diverse flavors of Indian cuisine and enjoy a satisfying meal without compromising on taste. So, the next time you visit an Indian restaurant, don’t hesitate to try out these amazing vegetarian dishes!


One of the highlights of Indian cuisine is its wide variety of breads. From fluffy naan to crispy parathas, Indian breads are a must-try when dining at an Indian restaurant. Here are some popular bread options:


Naan is a classic Indian bread that is soft, fluffy, and slightly chewy. It is traditionally baked in a tandoor, a clay oven. Naan pairs well with a variety of Indian dishes and is perfect for scooping up curries or sauces.

It can be plain or stuffed with ingredients like garlic, cheese, or minced meat, adding extra flavor and texture to the bread.

Garlic Naan

Garlic naan is a variation of naan that is infused with garlic flavor. It is made by brushing the naan with garlic butter or sprinkling minced garlic on top before baking. The result is a fragrant and flavorful bread that complements spicy dishes.

Garlic naan is a popular choice for those who love the taste of garlic.


Roti is a simple and nutritious Indian bread made from whole wheat flour. It is a staple in many Indian households and is often served with dal (lentil curry) or sabzi (vegetable curry). Roti is thin and chewy, making it easy to tear and scoop up curries.

It is a healthier alternative to naan as it is made with whole grains.


Puri is a deep-fried bread that is light and puffy. It is made with wheat flour and is often served with dishes like chole (spiced chickpeas) or aloo sabzi (potato curry). Puri is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making it a delightful addition to any meal.

It is typically enjoyed during special occasions or festivals.


Paratha is a flaky and layered bread that is pan-fried with ghee or oil. It can be stuffed with various fillings like potatoes, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), or spinach, adding both flavor and texture to the bread.

Paratha is versatile and can be enjoyed with a wide range of dishes, from curries to yogurt-based dips.

When ordering bread at an Indian restaurant, consider your personal preferences and the dishes you plan to order. Naan and garlic naan are popular choices that pair well with almost any Indian dish. Roti and puri are great options for those looking for healthier alternatives or a unique texture.

Paratha offers a delightful combination of flakiness and stuffing. Whichever bread you choose, be sure to savor each bite and enjoy the wonderful flavors of Indian cuisine!



Samosas are a popular Indian appetizer that you must try when dining at an Indian restaurant. These deep-fried pastry pockets are typically filled with a savory mixture of spiced potatoes, peas, and sometimes meat.

The crispy exterior and flavorful filling make samosas a favorite among both vegetarians and meat lovers. They are often served with chutneys or yogurt for dipping, adding an extra burst of flavor to each bite.

For more information on samosas, you can visit The Spruce Eats.


Pakoras are another popular Indian appetizer that you should consider ordering. These deep-fried fritters are made by dipping vegetables or meat in a spiced chickpea flour batter and then frying them until crispy. Common choices for pakoras include onions, potatoes, and spinach.

They are often served with mint chutney or tamarind chutney, adding a tangy and refreshing element to the dish.

To learn how to make pakoras at home, you can visit BBC Good Food.

Papdi Chaat

Papdi Chaat is a delightful and flavorful appetizer that is popular in Indian cuisine. It consists of crispy fried dough wafers called papdis, topped with a combination of yogurt, chutneys, and various spices. The dish is then garnished with chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.

The contrasting textures and flavors of the crispy papdi, creamy yogurt, tangy chutneys, and aromatic spices create a harmonious blend that will leave your taste buds craving for more.

For a delicious Papdi Chaat recipe, you can visit Archana’s Kitchen.

Aloo Tikki

Aloo Tikki is a beloved Indian appetizer made from mashed potatoes mixed with various spices and herbs. The mixture is formed into patties and then shallow-fried until golden brown. The result is a crispy exterior with a soft and flavorful interior.

Aloo Tikki is often served with mint chutney and tamarind chutney, adding a burst of freshness and tanginess to the dish.

Check out this mouthwatering Aloo Tikki recipe at Cook With Manali.

Paneer Tikka

Paneer Tikka is a vegetarian appetizer that is a must-try for cheese lovers. It consists of marinated cubes of paneer (a type of Indian cottage cheese) that are skewered and grilled to perfection. The marinade is typically made with a mixture of yogurt, spices, and lemon juice, which infuses the paneer with a delectable flavor.

Paneer Tikka is often served with mint chutney and onion slices, enhancing its taste and presentation.

If you want to learn how to make Paneer Tikka at home, you can find a fantastic recipe at Veg Recipes of India.


No Indian meal is complete without indulging in some mouth-watering desserts. Indian desserts are known for their rich flavors and unique combinations of ingredients. Here are some of the best desserts you should try when dining at an Indian restaurant:

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun is a popular Indian sweet made from milk solids and soaked in a sugary syrup flavored with rose water. These deep-fried dumplings are soft, spongy, and absolutely delicious. They are often served warm, making them the perfect comfort food.

Don’t forget to savor the syrup as it adds an extra burst of sweetness to this delightful dessert.


Kheer, also known as rice pudding, is a classic Indian dessert that is loved by people of all ages. It is made by simmering rice with milk and sugar, and often flavored with cardamom, saffron, and nuts. The creamy and fragrant texture of kheer is a true delight for the taste buds.

It can be served warm or chilled, depending on your preference.


Rasmalai is a popular Bengali dessert that consists of soft and spongy cottage cheese balls soaked in a sweetened milk syrup. This delicate dessert is flavored with cardamom and garnished with pistachios or almonds.

The texture of the cottage cheese combined with the creamy milk syrup creates a melt-in-your-mouth experience that will leave you wanting more.


Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream that is denser and creamier than regular ice cream. It is made by simmering milk for hours to reduce it and then adding flavors like saffron, cardamom, or pistachio. The mixture is then frozen in molds, resulting in a rich and flavorful dessert.

Kulfi is often enjoyed on a stick, making it a perfect treat to beat the heat.


Jalebi is a popular sweet snack in India that is made by deep-frying a wheat flour batter in a spiral or pretzel shape and then soaking it in a sugar syrup. The result is a crispy and syrupy treat that is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Jalebi is often served warm and is best paired with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Next time you visit an Indian restaurant, make sure to save some room for these delectable desserts. They are the perfect way to end your meal on a sweet note!


When dining at an Indian restaurant, you’ll find a variety of refreshing and flavorful beverages to accompany your meal. These drinks not only complement the spicy and aromatic flavors of Indian cuisine, but they also provide a wonderful way to cool down and quench your thirst.

Masala Chai

One of the most popular Indian beverages is masala chai. This delightful blend of tea, milk, and spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves is a staple in Indian households. The rich and creamy texture combined with the warm and fragrant flavors make masala chai a perfect choice for tea lovers.

It is often enjoyed with a touch of sweetness from sugar or honey.

Mango Lassi

For those who prefer a fruity and creamy beverage, mango lassi is a must-try. Made with fresh mangoes, yogurt, milk, and a hint of cardamom, this smoothie-like drink is a delightful combination of sweet and tangy flavors.

The lassi is known for its refreshing taste and is often served chilled, making it a perfect choice to beat the summer heat.

Masala Soda

If you’re looking for a unique and fizzy drink, masala soda is a great option. This carbonated beverage is made by mixing soda water with a special blend of Indian spices, such as cumin, black salt, and lemon juice. The result is a refreshing and tangy drink that is both cooling and flavorful.

Masala soda is a popular choice to cleanse the palate and aid digestion.

Mango Shake

Another delicious mango-based beverage is the mango shake. Made with fresh mango pulp, milk, and sugar, this creamy and fruity drink is a favorite among mango lovers. It is often garnished with chopped nuts or a sprinkle of cardamom powder for an added crunch and flavor.

The mango shake is a great choice for those who enjoy the natural sweetness and tropical taste of mangoes.


For a tangy and refreshing drink, try jaljeera. This traditional Indian beverage is made by blending mint leaves, coriander leaves, cumin, black salt, and lemon juice with water. The result is a flavorful and digestive drink that is often served as an appetizer or a refreshing summer cooler.

The combination of spices and herbs in jaljeera provides a unique and invigorating taste.

When ordering beverages at an Indian restaurant, don’t miss out on these flavorful options. Whether you prefer a creamy and fruity lassi or a tangy and refreshing masala soda, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

So, sit back, relax, and sip on these delightful Indian drinks that will enhance your dining experience.


With so many mouthwatering dishes to choose from, deciding what to order at an Indian restaurant can be challenging. By sticking to some of the top recommendations covered here, from flavorful curries to fragrant rice dishes, fresh hot breads, crispy appetizers, sweet desserts, and refreshing beverages, you’re sure to have an amazing meal.

Be adventurous and try a few new things each time to experience the diversity of Indian cuisine. Just come hungry and get ready to enjoy all the incredible flavors an Indian restaurant has to offer!

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