A guide to trying curry for the first time

“Indian cuisine is utterly delicious, with the aromas of fresh herbs and spices sending your taste buds into a frenzy before the dishes even emerge from the kitchen. Served with a multitude of sensational side dishes including a wide range of rice options and breads which go perfectly with curry, Indian restaurants are in high demand. But what should you do if you’ve never enjoyed fine dining at an Indian restaurant in London before or are having a curry for the first time? Here are some useful tips.

Don’t Assume All Dishes are Spicy

Curry can be spicy. Order a Vindaloo or a Jalfrezi, for instance, and you’ll certainly need a glass of cold water or a Cobra beer nearby. But don’t presume that all dishes will set your mouth on fire. Even though Indian food contains a medley of wonderful spices such as cumin, garam masala, ginger, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds and such like, many dishes are flavoursome rather than spicy. That said, you don’t want to make a mistake, so study the menu carefully as most dishes will be labelled with a spice rating. If they’re not, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter if a dish you like the look of is spicy or not. While some people love hot food, others prefer something milder.

Order an Array of Starters

Indian menus are notoriously long, but don’t let that put you off. Start by checking out the starters. Poppadoms are a popular option and are often accompanied with mint sauce and various chutneys as well as a chopped onion relish. You’ll also find samosas which are fried treats packed with vegetables or meat, and bhajis which are onions mixed with spices and herbs and then deep fried. Most high-end restaurants provide a description of each starter to help you decide, but don’t hesitate to order an array of starters so you can try several dishes. Some people like their starters to come out first, others like to eat them with their main meal.

Think Carefully About Your Main

If you like foods without much sauce, then check out the Tandoori options on the menu. Meats such as lamb and chicken will have been beautifully cooked in a hot tandoori oven until tender and are usually served with vegetables. The tandoori mixed grill is always a popular option as it includes a host of different marinated meats. If you like your food with more sauce, then the curry options are a go-to. Mild curries include chicken korma whereas chicken madras is a little on the hot side. Love lentils? Then a chicken dhansak could be the right choice for you. This is a spicy option. Chicken tikka masala and butter chicken are good options for curry newbies as they’re really flavoursome but relatively mild.

Rice or Bread?

Most Indian restaurants require you to order rice and bread separately and there are always lots of different options. A biryani is a rice dish that can be enjoyed alone. There are vegetarian, meat and fish options available. If you just want rice as an accompaniment to your main meal, however, you can go for pilau rice, plain rice, fried rice or other options. Naan bread is an Indian bread that resembles a thick flatbread. Varieties include a coconut naan known as Peshwari, keema naan which comes with fresh mincemeat, cheese naan, garlic naan, plain naan or stuffed naan. You might also decide to order an Indian flatbread called chapati.

Enjoy a Royal Albert Hall pre-theatre dinner at Little India, perfectly located in Kensington. Treat yourself to a fine dining experience and explore Indian cuisine cooked perfectly.”