Here are some common terms you'll see on menus in Indian restaurants.
Bhaji: A fried appetizer or meal topping. Often chopped onions that are egg-battered, deep-fried and highly spiced.
Biryani: Any dish of spiced meat or vegetables with firm cooked rice.
Ceylon: A rich style of curry including coconut milk.
Chaval: Rice. Often spelled “chawal.”
Dal: Yellow lentil purée.
Garam masala: A healthful and flavorful combination of dried, ground spices.
Ghee: Clarified butter used on breads and in most curry dishes.
Kaskmir curry: A sweet curry that often includes fruit, along with the usual ghee, cream and coconut, making it a rich dish.
Kheema: Indicates any meat that has been minced.
Kofta: Meat or vegetarian dumplings. Can be okay, but beware the sauce options.
Makhani: A dish cooked with butter and cream, one to avoid.
Malai: A dish made with cream, high in calories.
Masala: Any dish cooked with garam masala, a blend of Indian spices.
Pakora: A fritter similar to bhaji.
Paneer: A firm, whole-milk curd cheese.
Papadum: A tortilla-like lentil cracker. Nutrition depends on whether it is roasted, toasted or fried.
Raita: A condiment or side dish of yogurt, cucumber and spices.
Seekh kebab: Meat cooked on skewers. Usually made with ground red meat, bread and spices, tikka is a better choice.
Tahiri: Basmati rice with some token peas and vegetables. It’s essentially white rice with butter.
Tikka: Chunks of marinated meat cooked in the tandoor, making it a good choice, provided it’s not sauced.
Vindaloo: A hot curry from the Portuguese colony of Goa.