My girlfriend recently bought me "Curry Easy" by Madhur Jaffrey and I've been making some of the recipes from it but would like to know the Indian or traditional names for some of the recipes. All the recipes are listed like "Roasted Moong Dal with Mustard Greens" for example.

Does anyone know the proper names of these:

Cucumber salad, North Indian style (peeled + chopped cucumber with seasoning, lemon, mint leaves and chilli powder)

South Indian potato curry (potatoes, spices, curry leaves + coconut milk)

Karhai broccoli (wok-fried broccoli with asafoetida, cumin seeds + mustard seeds)

Ideally I would like a traditional/proper name for all in the book but not sure if that's possible :)

3 Answers 3


What do you mean by "traditional/proper"?

A lot of Indian food is named simply after the ingredients in it - cucumber salad would probably just be cucumber salad.

Sometimes they are named after the type of cooking method or vessel they are made in. Your Karhai broccoli is an example of that; the karhai (or karahi) is a type of pot used in Indian cooking. It's similar to a wok and usually looks something like this:Punjabi Karahi, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If you're looking for the single definitive name that goes with each recipe in that book, you won't find one. The "traditional" name for each dish would just be the recipe title translated into whichever Indian language is most prominent in the region the dish came from. But the translation isn't going to be a "proper" name because it will still be generic; there are so many regional variations on common dishes (variation in ratio of vegetables or meat, or in types and amounts of spices, etc.) and so many languages spoken in India that no dish has a single name or way of making it.

Take any dish that is a staple of Indian food and search for that dish name + "recipe". I guarantee you'll come across nearly infinite variations. (Try something like "aloo gobi" - the translation of these Hindi words is literally just "potato" ("aloo") and "cauliflower" ("gobi"). I've seen hundreds of recipes for it, and no two are exactly the same, but they do contain common ingredients.) Depending on where you are in India, they are sometimes called by English names, too; you might go to a restaurant and see "cucumber salad" on the menu with no explanation of what type of cucumber salad it is.

P.S. "Roasted Moong Dal with Mustard Greens" is a hybrid Hindi-English dish name already (another common trend in urban India). "Dal" just refers to a dish made with pulses, which are usually cooked until soupy/mushy or occasionally pureed. "Moong" is the type of bean used; you sometimes see it spelled "mung" or written "mungbean" (one word) - you can take a look at the Wikipedia page for a more exhaustive list of varieties on the nomenclature.

  • 1
    This problem is global too, not just India (Bhārat Gaṇarājya). Anyone got the recipe for "Mum's chicken soup"?
    – TFD
    Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 0:47

If you are looking at how recipes published these days (especially online), from indian authors, are titled, you will notice a pattern.

The "traditional" hindi or telugu name is only part of the recipe title. At the very least, three qualifiers are common:

  • a regional qualifier. This can refer to indian states or large regions (eg "Panjabi Aloo Gobi"), and/or to a community or tribe* (eg if a curry is described as mughal, muslim, hindu, goan christian, boori ... style). A hint about region is also implied in language and diction the recipe name is in.

  • a description of how elaborate the preparation style is - "wedding style", "hotel style", "tiffin style", "dhaba style", "home style" ....

  • a description of whether a gravy-rich or dry outcome is intended in the recipe - most can be done both ways, and there are reasons to do either way too - served with bread or served with rice? Are the other preparations on the table dry or gravy-rich?

If you are trying to match things to items commonly found in restaurant menus - be aware that some of them play fast and loose with regional styles and naming, then ... use something like google image search to find recipes ("hotel style" is often what you want for a professional level but still reasonably authentic version) that look visually similar to what you are expecting (make sure not to get led up the garden path by too-professional, heavily edited food photos). The way surface textures look on both sauces and drier items - the way oil will or will not separate out on the surface, the way sauce will level out smooth or not when left standing, the way things are browned or cut... all that tells you a lot about the preparation methods used.

Always be aware that looking for an "authentic" or "traditional" (as in, described with that keyword) recipe via google can lead to very misleading results - if marked so, it can mean someone from within the originating community has made special effort to write a canonical recipe with global readers in mind (good!), it can mean someone outside the community has made an effort to research it (good, too!), it can mean somebody is conceited or only cares about it being perceived by his readership as authentic (not good :) ).

I hope not to have offended any indian cook with my oversimplification - I am just writing out what I observed trying to deal with there being literally millions of indian recipes available, even in english language, nowadays... *Also if the term "tribe" is not OK to use, by all means tell me in the comments, I will edit it then.


Without seeing the recipe... I can only guess:

  • Kachumber salad
  • Aloo Gobi potentially for the south indian potato curry
  • Karhai broccoli probably the same name.

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