Popular with partygoers after a few pints of beer, great as a setting for a celebration, a good place for a first date, and home to the UK's new national dish - we can only be talking about Indian restaurants.
From Manchester's famous Curry Mile to the balti houses in Birmingham and London, there are thousands of Indian restaurants to choose from in the UK today. The Indian cuisine we enjoy here is characterised by a hot and spicy curry, but there is a lot more to Indian food than that, as we shall discover on this page.
Indian restaurants - Flavours to Savour
The main ingredient used in Indian cuisine is obviously curry powder or paste but Indians also use many other spices in their food, including cinnamon, chillies and coriander, to name but a few.
There are many different types of curries available at Indian restaurants, including balti, tikka masala, bhuna, rogan josh and korma. Some curries are actually UK Indian restaurant inventions, such as the Madras, which is a red or brown coloured, very hot curry that is rich in tomatoes. Restaurateurs introduced the Madras as a hotter version of the popular milder curries.
Indian curries are usually thick and creamy, and are usually made with chicken or lamb and vegetables. Other Indian delights well worth sampling when you head out for a curry include nan bread, pilau rice, onion bhajis, poppadums and sheek kebab.
Indian restaurants - First visit food
If you are going to an Indian restaurant for the first time then you'll want to choose a meal that reflect authentic Indian flavours. At the same time, you may only have a delicate palate and will therefore want to avoid hot and very hot curries.
For starters why not have the traditional poppadums with mango chutney, mint yogurt, and onions or an onion bhaji. If you want a mild curry then opt for a korma or tikka masala with pilau rice, and why not do things the English way by washing it all down with a pint of lager!
Get a feel for Indian restaurants
Indian restaurants pride themselves on authentic and welcoming décor, so expect to find lots of deep red and gold décor, comfy seating, and well-dressed waiters in the more traditional Indian restaurants. Modern equivalents may be less authentic, opting for a minimalist look instead but they will be light, bright, airy and comfortable.
Find Indian food in the UK
If you're looking for a top class Indian restaurant where you can choose from a range of exquisite food then you might want to check out these:
Tamarind, London - One of the first Indian restaurants to receive a Michelin star, this eatery has a glass fronted kitchen where you can see all the food preparation and Tandoori cooking taking place. The restaurant offers mainly North-Western Kashmir cuisine but the menus change from season to season.
Veeraswamy, London - Said to be the oldest Indian restaurant in Britain, this restaurant focuses on different regional dishes, which means some unusual and tasty offerings for your taste buds.
Royal Naz Indian Restaurant, Manchester - A multi-award winning eatery on Manchester's famous Curry Mile, which is popular with local celebrities.
Things to look out for at Indian restaurants in the UK
There are a few things to remember when eating in an Indian restaurant, and the first thing is that some Indian curries extremely hot and spicy, such as vindaloo, so if you do not know which ones they are make sure you ask your waiter.
Also worth bearing in mind is that some top class Indian restaurants have now been awarded a Michelin star for excellence, such as the Tamarind in London. Michelin stars are awarded by the Michelin Guide to a small number of restaurant of special gastronomical quality.
If you are heading to an Indian restaurant for the first time and want to sample as much of the cuisine as possible then why not choose an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet restaurants, which serves its dishes in a buffet-style environment fo a set price, so you can try eveything on the menu!
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