“Curry” isn’t really a specific thing. There is no synonym anywhere in the Indian subcontinent that groups together the hundreds of dishes that now fall under what many Australians define as curry. This massively simplified designation was a misunderstanding on the part of colonisers that spread around the Western world. And in any case, Indian cuisine is far more than curry.
You could say curry is to Indian food what Shakespeare is to theatre: elegantly crafted and universally acclaimed, but with a tendency to hog the spotlight. Indian cuisine features culinary riches so diverse, it hardly makes sense to lump it together as “Indian cuisine” at all.
On Saturday June 27, Uber Eats is celebrating Indian food and its many iterations, as part of its Your Local Food Fest. Running from June 18 to 30, Your Local Food Fest is offering daily promotions, specials and deals on 13 different cuisines over 13 days, as well as celebrating the venues and talent behind them. All promotions are being funded by Uber Eats to encourage diners to support local businesses.
We put together a guide to some great Indian options to search for beyond the basics.
Dum biryani (pressure-cooked meat and rice)
Almost every culture where rice is a staple has a first-rate mixed rice dish – nasi lemak, pilaf, paella, bibimbap. Biryani is the subcontinent’s contender for best on earth, and dum biryani is the Hyderabadi heavyweight. Unlike the usual biryani, where rice and meat are cooked separately and mixed, in dum biryani the ingredients are slow-cooked simultaneously, layered on top of one another in a dough-sealed pot, so the flavors intermingle.
Pav bhaji (white bread with mashed vegetable curry)
Here’s something relatively new to Australia’s shores: Mumbai street food. India’s largest city has a chaotic and diverse street-food scene, and pav bhaji is one of its most famous exports. It’s simply a soft white bread roll, buttered and stuffed with a hot curry thick with mashed veg. That’s the basic version. Flourishes include toppings of shredded cheese, hunks of cheese or plantains; curry sans curry powder; fresh chilli; fried bread; or extra spicy everything.
Uttapam (fermented rice crepe)
A South Indian style dosa (or crepe made with fermented rice flour) cooked with a thick batter that can be brittle and thin or doughy and crisp. There are countless variations, some including onions, tomatoes, chilli or coconut in the batter pre-fry, others with those extras on top, perhaps with some fresh herbs and capsicum, too. Either way, you’ll usually see a side of sambar (a thin, slightly sour lentil stew) and chutney. It’s not particularly common in Australia, but look out for restaurants advertising “southern cuisine” for a chance.
Chicken 65 (deep-fried chilli chicken)
A deep-fried chicken dish with a mysterious name. Like pav bhaji, it’s in the fast-food category of Indian cuisine. But while pav bhaji is a storied meal for Mumbai workers between shifts, Chicken 65 is more your modern day, cross-class fast food, found in family-run diners, classy establishments and massive national chains alike. First, the chicken is marinated in a load of multicoloured spices for anywhere between 10 minutes and many hours. Then it’s battered, deep fried, and refried with gravy, capsicum, curry leaves and more spices, making the final product both saucy and crunchy, sour and spicy.
Haleem (slow-cooked beef and lentils)
A porridge-like lentil and meat stew found all over the subcontinent, the Middle East and Central Asia, particularly for the fast-breaking iftar meal during Ramadan. That’s thanks to the Mogal empire, which spread Mughlai cuisine throughout the region. This dish varies from country to country, but the Indian version (largely exclusive to the north) takes mutton or beef, cracked wheat, lentils, an enormous amount of ghee and several hours of cooking. The porridge comparison is no exaggeration. It’s often cooked long enough for the meat to completely dissolve into the lentil and wheat mash.
On Saturday June 27, Uber Eats celebrates Indian cuisine as part of its Your Local Food Fest. Running from June 18 to 30, Your Local Food Fest is offering daily promotions, specials and deals on 13 different cuisines over 13 days, as well as celebrating the venues and talent behind them. Keep an eye out for all the specials and promotions happening in your city.
Uber Eats is funding the promotions – restaurant partners will still take home the same amount they would on a normal day of trading, with Uber covering the difference between the total order value and what the diner pays. There are promotions and offers for every day of the campaign, with Uber Eats picking up the tab on all of them.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Uber Eats.