It seems like every time I turn around, there's a new Indian restaurant opening in the towns that surround mine. I'd like to try out these restaurants, partly to throw their owners some business, partly to change up my routine, and partly because I'm told the Indians do a wonderful job on vegetarian cooking. But I have yet to do so. Why? I know nothing about Indian food and my friends, who rarely even go to Chinese restaurants, know even less than that.
So I threw a challenge to our friend Rhonda in Australia to write a "quick start guide" to Indian food. The goal was to give folks like me something that would allow us to walk into an Indian restaurant and place our first order without going too far out on a limb (e.g., ordering something too spicy). I knew if anyone could do it, it would be Rhonda, who frequents a local Indian restaurant in her town.
She's given us great advice as well as a list of helpful links. Her advice? Start with anything with the words "korma" or "rogan josh" in the dish's title. Korma dishes, the mildest, get their creaminess from yogurt; rogan josh, while containing a smidge more spice than "korma" dishes, is still on the mild side. "Spicy" in Indian dishes may prove to be spicier than you'd counted on, even if you're accustomed to fiery Mexican or Szechuan food. Your best bet may be to start slow and give your palate a chance to get used to the heat.
You can read the full posting at Indian food: A quick guide.