Probably called Madras curries to identify them with their home in the south of India, these are really hot dishes. South India is the home of some of the best pepper in the world! Madras curries team lots of pepper and chilli with onion, tomato, curry leaves and mustard and have a good amount of gravy. They taste lovely served with piping hot plain boiled rice and even with typically North Indian breads like Chapatis (flatbread) and Naans (leavened flatbread made baked in a tandoor or oven). If you're being adventurous and ordering a Madras curry, add milder dishes like Daals (lentils) to tone down their heat.
This name comes from the word Makkhan which means butter! These typically North Indian dishes are therefore cooked in butter and have substantial creamy gravy in which tomatoes play a predominant role. Makhni dishes are usually mild to medium hot and made with chicken, vegetables or lentils. Though they taste nice with rice dishes, Makhnis are best had with North Indian breads like Chapatis (flatbread) and Naans (leavened flatbread made baked in a tandoor or oven). Add a green salad and you're in business!
This word means cream. Malai dishes have a good amount of creamy, cream-based gravy. This gravy is mild and usually made with onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic to which spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala etc are added. Cream is added to the dish as a finishing touch. Expect the dish to be mild and team it with a hotter, relatively drier side dish. Team with Chapatis (flatbread) and Naans (leavened flatbread made baked in a tandoor or oven). Try my recipes for Malai Prawns and Malai Kofta.
This word typically means spice mix so recipes for Masala dishes can be as varied as the chefs that cook them! They can therefore range from medium to really hot but will usually have a thick, not very substantial gravy. Order "wetter" dishes like Daals and rice pilafs (pulaos) to go with a Masala dish.
Mughlai cuisine is a result of the Mughal rule in India. Food was rich and cooked with aromatic spices, nuts and dried fruits. Most Indian restaurants interpret this as mild to medium-hot cream and nut based gravies, rice dishes with lots of nuts and dried fruits and rich creamy desserts. Expect (in a good restaurant) spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg etc. Gravies are usually abundant in Mughlai dishes so they go well with rice dishes and breads alike.
The word Saag is mostly used in connection with leafy greens like spinach, fenugreek, mustard greens and dill. In India, Saag is not just cooked by itself but often combined with great success with all kinds of meat, fish and vegetarian ingredients. The greens in these dishes may be chopped fine and cooked or cooked and creamed. Spices used in Saag dishes include cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chilli, coriander and cumin among others. Saag dishes are mostly mild with a medium amount of gravy. They go really well with breads like Chapatis (flatbread) and Naans (leavened flatbread made baked in a tandoor or oven). Daals (lentils) are the perfect side dish to order with Saag-based foods. Try my recipes for Sarson Ka Saag and Chicken Saagwala.
means royal. Shahi dishes are similar to Mughlai ones in that they have mildly-flavored, rich, creamy gravies that might contain nuts and dried fruits. Shahi-style foods go well with rice dishes and all kinds of Indian breads.