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The More You Know

Understanding Indian Cuisine

Tikka Masala Indian Food Dish

Indian Food is more than Butter Chicken

Not all Indian food uses ‘Curry’ and not all curry is spicy. There is so much more to Indian food than just Butter Chicken. Each region of India has its own unique and exciting combination of flavours and ingredients – each city, town, and even family prepares dishes differently. While this is part of the magic of Indian cuisine, it doesn’t tell the whole story of Indian Food.

There can be a tendency in North America to simplify exotic cuisines and assume that food from other countries is homogenous. For Indian Food this couldn’t be further from the truth. At Tahn Door we’re working to educate our customers to make informed decisions about what they are eating. At the same time, learning about the rich cultural traditions that Indian food so deeply connects to.

Another common misconception is that all Indian food is heavy, rich and unhealthy. Obviously this is untrue, as with any type of cuisine there is a wide variety of Indian food. Countless Indian dishes offer a light, healthy, and fresh experience, especially when considering ingredients that might otherwise be considered boring.

For example, Vegetarian food is often labelled as ‘lacking flavour’ (which any vegetarian will tell you is not true), but some of the most popular Indian Dishes in North America are Vegetarian! In Sikhism, a major Indian religion, Vegetarianism is widely practiced. This is reflected in part by the variety of world famous Vegetarian dishes India boasts today. Eating a Vegetarian dish from a region of the world so rich in flavours and spices, you may not find yourself asking “Where’s the meat?”. We invite you to try something new and see how wonderful these healthy, fragrant and beautifully diverse Indian dishes can be.

Chili Paste Indian Food Dish

Not All Indian Food is Hot and Spicy

The term ‘spice’ can have several different meanings. A spice can be anything that adds flavour, but doesn’t necessarily add heat, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or coriander. When talking about Indian food, most people think that spice means heat. However, It’s important to keep in mind that not all spices are spicy.

As Indian cuisine uses such a wide variety of spices in any given dish, there are many different experiences depending on the spice profile. For example, most people typically think of their mouth burning when they eat something spicy, but have you ever found yourself sweating from the heat without feeling spice in your mouth? These two different sensations are referred to as ‘mouth spice’ and ‘body spice’. 

Different spice combinations produce different flavours and effects. Spices that are not considered to have a strong ‘mouth spice’ can still produce a strong ‘body spice’ (such as garam masala) and vice versa. By giving our customers the information they need to understand the different effects of our spices, they will be able to make informed decisions about what type of spice experience they want. This leads to greater understanding and ultimately being more satisfied with their order. When you come in to order, be sure to ask our staff about the ‘mouth spice’ and ‘body spice’ of our dishes. 

At Tahn Door, we are proud to serve a variety of dishes that reflect the full spectrum of Indian flavours, spices and heat. Not all Indian people like their food hot and spicy, and the food produced by Indian culture is as vast and diverse as the country it originates from. The one thing you can be sure of, no matter what your tolerance for spice and heat is, there is always a dish at Tahn Door that is right for you.

Peeled Turmeric Indian Food Ingredient

Curry may not be what you think...

…so what is it then? In Western culture we often think of curry as a gravy like sauce that’s packed with flavour and heat, that can be overpowering for many people. The truth is that curry just means a blend of Indian spices – and that’s it. This blend of spices is as unique as the person making it, which means not all curry is spicy and often times curries are nothing alike.

Each province, region and even family has their own take on what a curry is as it is often made in house to suit the flavour profiles specific to the area. This variety and subtleties in curry and in Indian cooking may not be obvious to everyone. This can lead to common misconceptions about Indian food, as several very different tasting foods can be labelled as ‘curry’ in Western society.

We like to think of it like this: you probably wouldn’t ask an Italian chef if there’s a ‘right’ way to make marinara sauce, because each marina recipe is unique and special, much the same as curry. Calling every Indian dish a curry would be like taking all of spaghetti, lasagna and fettuccine alfredo and calling them ‘pasta’, it doesn’t accurately represent the specifics of the dish.

Share Your Thoughts!

If you have an idea about how we can better share Indian food with the world, we want to hear it!

Send us a message or leave a comment about any of the items on our menu, or your favourite Indian Cuisine facts. Have an idea for a dish? Let us know what you would like to see on the menu and help us bring Indian food into every home!

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