Most of my non-Indian friends are familiar with chicken tikka masala. Honestly, I don't understand the hype. Don't get me wrong — I love me some chicken tikka masala, but there is way more out there in terms of Indian delicacies. I have created a list of 15 of my favorites to show everyone what Indian food is really about. 

1. Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is simple, but one of the most popular things to order at an Indian restaurant. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and tons of lovely spices, and is then grilled or baked in a tandoor (or clay oven) to perfection. 

2. Dosa

Sarah Arora
Dosa is one of the most crispy and flavorful South Indian delicacies. The crispy pancake is tangy and complements the spicy potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers that can often be found inside. It is often served with sambar (lentil-based stew) and chutney. 

3. Biryani

Biryani is an ancient rice dish that still continues to steal the show. There are many different varieties of this spicy rice dish, from chicken to fish to veggie. I like mine with some raita (or savory yogurt). Chicken biryani is the one food that I would bring to a desert island — that's how unreal it is. 

4. Gulab Jamun

You can think of gulab jamun as donut holes in a rich syrup. This classic Indian dessert can be eaten hot and steamy, out of the fridge, or even covered in coconut. 

5. Pani Puri

sauce, rice, meat, vegetable
Sarah Arora

Pani Puri is one of the most popular Indian street snacks. In North India, it is known as golgappa. It is basically a mini puri (round bread) fried to a crisp that is often stuffed with spicy mint-flavored water, potatoes, onions, and chutney. It's finger food that is simply irresistible. 

6. Samosa

Samosa is probably the most well-known Indian appetizer. It's a flaky pastry often filled with a spicy potato mixture. They are often enjoyed with mint and tamarind chutneys. 

7. Chicken 65

Chicken 65 is a fiery, deep-fried chicken dish originating from Chennai, India. It is often eaten as an appetizer. Its intense flavor comes from chili peppers, garlic, cardamom, and cloves. It is also dyed red to give it a bit more attitude. 

8. Jalebi

Jalebi, aka Zulbia, is a dessert made by deep-frying batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in a sugary syrup. It's essentially an Indian funnel cake

9. Naan 

pizza, bread, cheese
Sarah Arora

This is one of the most popular Indian breads. Its fluffy texture and rich, buttery flavor goes well with all sauces, curries, and vegetable dishes. 

10. Aloo Paratha

Sunday mornings are paratha days in many Indian households. There are many types of parathas, but aloo (or potato) is the most popular. Aloo paratha is starch heaven, as it is fluffy bread stuffed with potatoes.

11. Palak Paneer

Palak paneer is a way to take spinach to the next level. This dish is a spinach-based tomato gravy sauce with paneer cheese. It is very popular among vegetarians. 

12. Dal Makhni

Dal makhni is a comforting lentil soup. The main ingredients are whole black lentils and red kidney beans. It is finished with lots of butter and cream to give you that feeling of comfort. 

13. Idli Sambar

Idli are South Indian savory cakes made of rice and lentils. Idli are almost always served with sambar, the same lentil-based vegetable stew that can be found alongside dosa (see #2).

14. Gobi Manchurian

Gobi (cauliflower) manchurian (mun-choo-ree-un) is an Indo-Chinese dish. Chinese cooking techniques are used to create this spicy fried cauliflower dish that suits Indian tastes. This dish is super spicy and garlicky. 

15. Chole Bhature

Chole bhature is a mouthwatering treat originating from Punjab in Northwestern India. It is puffy fried bread served with chole or chana masala (spicy chickpeas). 

India has a whole world of delicacies to choose from. Next time you're at an Indian restaurant, ditch the chicken tikka masala, and spice it up a bit.