Indian food is as varied as anything else in that country; there is no easy definition of an "Indian meal". Indian food is often thought of as very spicy, but there are some simple breads, sweet deserts, and milder 'one-pot dishes' that defy the norm.
Many Indians are vegetarian, but then, some are not. There are regional specialities, different ways to serve the meal, and staple ingredients in each state. This combines to create a diverse cuisine that never becomes boring.
Like the people and the land itself, Indian cuisine varies from region to region. The ubiquitous curries known as tikka and korma can be found everywhere, but with subtle differences. The basic staples of almost every meal include rice, lentils (dahl) and some form of bread known as roti. Whenever possible, try and order a wonderful multi-course meal called a thali to ensure that you get to try a few different dishes.
From the northern Mughal states come most of the meat dishes such as the famous clay oven tandoor cooking, kebabs, rogen josh and korma dishes. The north-eastern Punjab region specialises in parathas, thick bread stuffed with all manner of tasty things, served with fattening ghee butter.
Southern India is where the sea and tropical climate play a major role in the cuisine. Coconut is found in virtually every dish, from the creamy curries to garnishes. This is where you’ll find the best dosas, those incredibly addictive rice pancakes. Some of India’s best chutneys and sambar also come from the south, often accompanying the bounty of local fresh fish and seafood
Spices (masalas) form the basis of nearly every Indian dish, and there are hundreds of them. From bitter yellow turmeric to sweet clove and cardamom, foodies will find themselves in flavour heaven no matter what dish you try. Some curries can be extremely spicy, so start mild and work up your chilli tolerance.
Although many Indians (and dishes) are vegetarian, there are still plenty of sumptuous meat dishes to try. Stick to chicken or fish unless you’re in a top-end restaurant as these meats are the most reliable (i.e. it really is chicken). Plenty of tropical fruit is available in India, just be sure you peel it before eating.
For drinks, you’ll find the milky tea known as chai everywhere you go. It’s the national drink and delicious. Yoghurt lassi is also a big favourite, but avoid ice unless you can be sure it comes from purified water .