Monday, November 23, 2009

The taxonomy of Indian restaurant menus.

A friend wanted some suggestions of good Indian restaurants and that got me thinking... on a tangent as always.. about how some of these Indian restaurants make their menus exotic, hard-bind them in leather and emboss with gold lettering. Some of them even go 'French' on you and forget to add the pricing but helpfully include grand descriptions of the items on the menu. Like the masala dosa becomes:

"Light, crispy, golden-brown crepe stuffed with a mashed potato-onion curry. Served with sambar (hot lentil and vegetable soup) and fresh coconut chutney."

The palak paneer might become:

"Home-made cottage cheese cubes served in a rich and creamy spinach, onion, almond gravy."

If that's the state of the humble palak, what of the more shahi ones? Like the biryani:

"Saffron rice and marinated vegetables slow-cooked in a tandoor oven with fresh herbs and spices, garnished with nuts and served with a cool yogurt and cucumber sauce."

I can go to these restaurants just to read their menu although I personally prefer restaurants with the walking-talking-menu-cum-sweaty-waiter-guy who rattles off like:


And then there are the wannabe-McD restaurants where the menu is comprised of pictures on the wall. You pick a combo from the pictures. The pictures have back-lighting.

Then there are the restaurants with the usual menus. A4 sized sheets, laminated to withstand wear and tear.

May be I need to classify my favorite restaurants based on menu-types. :)

What are your favorites based on menu-types?


  1. "idli,ravaidli,vada,masalvada,thairvada,masaldosa,ravadosa,oniondosa,uthappam,onionuthappam,pongal,parotta,kesaribath,bisibelebath,masalabath,bagalabath,tea,coffee,mysorepak,badamhalwa,jamun,icecream"

    er could you repeat pl. i'll ask the waiter...

    and he'll go..


    er did you say you had idly?

    i have dyslexia for the spoken word


  2. Lol at the head starts spinning when they do that! I love the swanky menus with the exotic descriptions! Hey, I'm an expensive wife, okay?! And I can't stand the back-lit fastfood ones!

  3. Definitely the 'idli,ravaidli,vada,masalvada,thairvada,masaldosa,ravadosa,oniondosa,uthappam,onionuthappam,pongal,parotta,kesaribath,bisibelebath,masalabath,bagalabath,tea,coffee,mysorepak,badamhalwa,jamun,icecream'...but like MIM I cant go beyond Idli :):) Infact I also like the Fastfood joints (Unlike Starry!)(Occupational Hazards of being the mother of a 17-month!!!)

  4. I'm in my own world but recently came across this placard placed by the drink-menu in an Indian restaurant. It had a list of Hindi/Punjabi phrases and the translation in English. After the usual 'hello', 'good night', 'water please'...they had
    Happy Holidays = Chutya Mubarak!!!
    instead of ChuTTiyan Mubarak. I just needed an excuse to tell the world!! :))

  5. I like the picture menus. They always get me with their sumptuous looking dishes.

    The thing with human waiters is - I get this feeling that I am parading stuff in front of them that they probably cant afford to eat:(

  6. mim: May be the picture menus are better for you.
    starry: expensive exotic wife, eh? ;)
    Rs'mom: Same here.
    Guddi: LOL! I knew you would have an anecdote.. :)
    TPL: Why? We only eat as much as we can right and don't parade?

  7. I like menus that say "No extra chutney" - straightfoward and no frills.

    I also like places that have no menus at all. You simply know what to order. Or if one day you feel like eating something different, you talk to the owner and get it done for you!

  8. I like places where they just have a board and no special menu cards ... and of course they custom make your order :)
    But the waiter chattering definitely has its charm and to me that is comfort food :)

  9. Not about wasting food, but abt having them fetch stuff which they probably dont get to eat. I shush my guilt with a heavy tip.

  10. :)

    LOL @ Guddi's chuttya mubarak! thats crazy hilarious stuff!

    me, i like different stuff at different times. sometimes the fancy lettering and crazy descriptions and sometimes tattered menu that you dont need to read because you know just what you like out there! :)