The first time I ate at an Indian restaurant, I was as confused as a newborn baby in a topless bar. The menu had too many unfamiliar foreign words.
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame published a guide to Indian food for greenhorns. A snippet:
Let’s first consider the mild: Korma, Passanda and Muglai are the words to watch for. Liberal in their creamy mildness, these dishes, from different areas of the Indian sub-continent, will be face and bowel-savers when the chips are down.
For those who favour the dryer ,purer and not-too-hot taste of the source meat or fish, try the Tikka or Tandoori versions.
Really spicy hot stuff will be tackled head-on in the Madras or Vindaloo variations on the theme. Brave but occasionally foolish forkers, like me, will feel compelled to go for the Phal or Tindaloo, those macho show-off botty-crippling dishes which we become strangely ever-addicted to. Nothing disrupts a band sound-check like the pervasive after-effects of the Tarka Dhal (lentils and garlic).
It’s a very helpful guide to Indian restaurant menus although not necessarily for authentic Indian cuisine.