Indian food has dramatically increased in global popularity since the early 2000s and by the late 2010s, has become the 4th most popular cuisine in the world. With Indian cuisine becoming more widespread, it’s a definitely good idea to get familiar with some basic Indian food terms.
India is a country located in South Asia and has the 2nd highest population of all the countries in the world. It shares two-thirds of its border with Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The remaining third of its border is a south-facing coastline that lines the Indian Ocean.
Although hundreds of languages are spoken throughout India, the most spoken language by far is Hindi.
The first thing that comes to mind when non-Indians think of Indian food is that it is very spicy. That’s because Indian cuisine is one of the most spice-heavy cuisines in the world. However, not all Indian food is hot and spicy; it just tends to use a lot of spices. One of the most used spices in Indian food is garam masala, which is simply a combination of ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper.
Complete Indian meals often consist of basmati rice, flatbread (chapati/naan/roti/paratha/dosa), meat, lentils, vegetables, salad, yogurt, and pickles (achaar). Of course, like most other countries, the dishes and ingredients vary by region.
Indian food terms (Hindi)
Expand your international dining vocabulary with these basic food-related words translated from English to Hindi.
meat – मांस (maans)
- pork – सुअर का मांस (suar ka maans)
- beef – भैस का मांस (bhais ka maans)
poultry – मुर्गी पालन (murgee paalan)
- turkey – तुर्की (turkee)
- duck – बत्तख (battakh)
- chicken – मुर्गी (murgee)
seafood – समुद्री भोजन (samudree bhojan)
- fish – मछली (machhalee)
- shrimp – झींगा (jheenga)
- oyster – सीप (seep)
- shellfish – कस्तूरा (kastoora)
meatless/no meat – कोई मांस नहीं (koee maans nahin)
- vegetables – सब्जियां (sabjiyaan)
- fruits – फल (phal)
- eggs – अंडे (ande)
- tofu – टोफू (tophoo)
- nuts – नट्स (nats)
- vegetarian – शाकाहारी (shaakaahaaree)
- vegan – शुद्ध शाकाहारी (shuddh shaakaahaaree)
drinks – पेय (pey)
- water – पानी (paanee)
- alcohol – शराब (sharaab)
- beer – बीयर (beeyar)
- wine – वाइन (vyen)
other eating/dining-related terms
- yes – हाँ (haan)
- no – नहीं न (nahin na)
- good – अच्छा न (achchha na)
- yummy – स्वादिष्ट (svaadisht)
- eat – खा (kha)
- cook – पकाना (pakaana)
- I’m hungry – मुझे भूख लगी है (mujhe bhookh lagee hai)
- I’m full – मेरा पेट भर चुका है (mera pet bhar chuka hai)
- more – अधिक (adhik)
- less – कम से (kam se)
- only – केवल (keval)
- please – कृप्या अ (krpya a)
- thank you – जी शुक्रिया (jee shukriya)
- baked – बेक किया हुआ (bek kiya hua)
- fried – तला हुआ (tala hua)
- grilled – भुना हुआ (bhuna hua)
- roasted – भुना हुआ (bhuna hua)
- steamed – उबले हुए (ubale hue)
- hot – गरम (garam)
- warm – गरम (garam)
- cold – सर्दी (sardee)
- bitter – कड़वा (kadava)
- salty – नमकीन (namakeen)
- spicy – मसालेदार (masaaledaar)
- sweet – मिठाई (mithaee)
- allergic – एलर्जी (alarjee)
- bathroom – बाथरूम (baatroom)
Watch this video to hear how letters and words sound in Hindi.
Indian food to try
- chicken vindaloo – a spicy chicken dish with a creamy tomato-based sauce
- pani puri shots/golgappa shots – stuffed pani puri placed on shot glasses
- malai kofta – vegetarian “meat”balls
- naan pizza – pizza with naan crust
- roti – Indian flatbread
- samosas – a fried/baked pastry filled with meat and/or vegetables eaten as an appetizer or snack
Interested in learning about other cuisines around the world? Discover food terms from other countries here.
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.