8 "Indian" Dishes No One Eats in India
Indian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the United States. It consistently ranks among the top 10 most popular types of food from overseas, according to Parade, and is often among the top five most popular cuisines in many parts of America, according to Chef's Pencil. Here's the sticky widget: those "Indian" foods you love so well? Many of them may not be all that Indian at all.
Many dishes are treated as arising from a given cuisine when the origin can be traced far from the culture with which they're associated. Some dishes are indeed brought along by emigres but change and evolve over the years. Other "foreign" foods are created both in and for the countries in which they gain popularity. Still, other dishes are hybrids or fusions of traditional foods and new spins. Given all the above, here are eight so-called "Indian" dishes they don't eat in India.
Plus, check out 6 "Mexican" Dishes No One Eats in Mexico.
Rajma dal is, according to The Spruce Eats, a tasty Indian vegetarian curry dish that's great over rice and served with pickled vegetables. However, according to BuzzFeed, "there's no such thing as 'Rajma Dal,' in India." There's a similar dish, but it's just called "rajma," and it does not use the kidney beans usually found in the Westernized take on the meal.
Chicken Tikka Masala
You will find chicken tikka masala on the menu at many restaurants in India, but if you take a close look at your surroundings, you'll find that said restaurants predominately cater to tourists. This is not an Indian dish, having actually been created in Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1970s, according to India Times. That said, it's delicious stuff, so enjoy it no matter where you find it.
Lamb Vindaloo with Potatoes
You will find vindaloo dishes in India. You will find dishes featuring lamb meat there, too. And you may even find lamb vindaloo served at some restaurants and in some homes. But the origins of the dish are Portuguese, not traditionally Indian, and the dish served in America with added potatoes is entirely inauthentic.
Created in the 1950s in New Delhi, butter chicken is another of those tourist trap dishes that you'll find in restaurants in busy cities and resort towns everywhere, but will hardly ever see in a restaurant catering to locals or prepared in private homes, via The India Trip. This is not to say it's not a tasty food that is popular around much of the globe.
Samosas are popular all over India, but the type of samosa you may know and love is likely quite different from those eaten there. If your preferred samosa has meat inside that flaky, delightful crust, then it's not the genuine article. According to The Better India, a traditional samosa is a vegetarian affair, with peas, onions, chilies, and spices playing the lead roles, ingredient-wise.
Though you can find recipes for Jaipur vegetables spread across the internet and you can buy a bag of mixed, spiced veggies labeled "Jaipur Vegetables" from Trader Joe's, there's really no such dish known as such in India at all, says BuzzFeed. This is the equivalent of someone loading a bunch of Southwestern veggies and spices into a bag and calling it "Santa Fe Vegetables." It sort of makes sense, in other words, but it's not authentic at all.
Curry is a dish created with myriad spices and seasonings, but to be clear it is a type of dish, not a specific dish at all, via Delish. If you have ever simply ordered "the curry," it was the invention of a chef, not the flavor of a county's cuisine. According to Love Food, the dish you get when you ask for curry has little to do with classic Indian food, where each region and in fact even each family may have its own unique take on the food.
Palak paneer is eaten and enjoyed in India, and the dish has probably been around since the late 1800s. However, the version of palak paneer you eat in America is unlike what you would be served in India. Diners outside of India tend to get a palak paneer with a hefty dose of heavy cream, an ingredient not on the menu in Indian dishes.
A previous version of this article was originally published on Mar 18, 2022.