Another simple yet essential part of an Indian meal, in the north at least, naan is a leavened flatbread that is kneaded with yoghurt and baked on the sides of a deep clay over – the tandoor that lends its name to the tandoori cuisine of North India. Thick and chewy, it is the perfect accompaniment for rich meaty dishes. Purists prefer it plain, though you can also bake it with garlic or with coconut and almonds.
Indian sweets can be very sweet indeed, and only the sweetest of tooths could work their way through a box of kaju barfi. Barfi is a kind of fudge made from milk that has been boiled down and condensed, and kaju barfi are creamy white chunks of temptation, topped with silver leaf (which you eat) for good measure.
Dosas are a South Indian staple, and you won’t travel far in Kerala or Karnataka before coming across one of these moreish crispy pancakes. Made from fermented rice batter, they come in a variety of forms, the most common of which is the masala dosa, where the pancake is stuffed with a spicy potato curry.
Like many of India’s most popular dishes, biriyani was brought to the Subcontinent by Muslim invaders from Central Asia and Persia. It’s a classically rich North Indian dish that marries fragrant rice, baked with saffron or turmeric and whole spices, with chunks of moist marinated meat (and often a hard-boiled egg). Pungent and hearty, and especially appetising when sealed with a crusted pastry ‘lid’ that’s cracked open at the table.
In the wide-ranging world of Indian street food, golgappa scores highly for its novelty value. Made from plain flour or semolina and fried until golden, these crispy balls (golgappa means “crisp sphere”) are traditionally filled with spiced potatoes and/or chickpeas and dipped into a bowl of water peppered with cumin, coriander and other spices. Pop it into your mouth in whole go and enjoy the hit from the spiced water, the kick from the filling and the crispiness of the gappa itself.