The Indian Versions of Popular Foods Around the World


Trying different cuisines and foods is an adventure of sorts. People are often skeptical about trying new dishes which they haven’t heard of or are unfamiliar with. While many dishes may have originated in the country itself it’s often compared to a dish more popularly known around the world…and thought of as that country’s take on the popular dish. It helps people relate to unfamiliar dishes and encourages them to try new things.

For example- If I asked a tourist visiting India for the first time to try a Vada Pav…they might be hesitant to try it, not knowing exactly what it is. But if I were to describe a Vada Pav as the Indian version of a Burger, some thing most people are familiar with…they’d more easily give it a try.

So comparing local foods with the more popular dishes is a great way of learning about new dishes.

Here’s a list of Indian dishes that can be easily described as the the Indian version of some very popular dishes from around the world:

Wada-Pav is the Indian version of a Burger

The Wada-pav also spelled Vada pav (pronounced WUH-dah POW)is an Indian vegetarian fast food commonly eaten in Maharashtra, India, and is one of the most popular fast foods of Mumbai. While the all American Hamburger also known as a Burger is one of the most foods of all times, the Indian Wada Pav is virtually unheard of in other countries, but is often called an Indian Burger.

Unlike it’s American counterpart which uses a ground meat (mainly beef or pork)patty, the Indian Wada Pav is purely vegetarian and the patty is made of spiced potatoes either mashed or diced, coated with a gram flour batter and deep fried. It is served in a Bun called Pav and served with a mint chutney and fried green chilies.

Dosa is the Indian version of a Crepe

A crêpe which is a type of very thin, cooked pancake usually made from wheat flour from France is quite popular around the world. Similar to a crepe, Dosa is a popular Indian Dish from the South of India and is made from a rice and lentil batter.

Unlike french crepes which are like a thin pancake, the texture of an Indian dosa is a bit crisp and wafer like. Dosa’s like crepes are often stuffed with a variety of fillings making them a very versatile snack or even a meal. The fillings used in Dosa’s are almost always savory whereas in the case a crepe can be filled with various sweet items making them a common dessert dish.

Uttapam is the Indian version of a Pancake or Pizza

Similar to how a Pancake is a thicker type of crepe, an Uttapam also called Uttapa is a thicker type of Dosa.

Pancakes are made from a batter made of flour,eggs, sugar, milk or buttermilk and some contain a raising agent, usually baking powder. Uttapams are made from a rice and lentil batter which is fermented. Instead of making it like a crispy crepe or dosa, uttapam is thick and not filled.Instead it is topped with ingredients of choice most commonly tomatoes or an onion-chilli mix and cooked right into the batter like a Pizza. It can sometimes topped with vegetables along with cheese or just cheese which is a popular topping.

It is cooked on a pan or griddle like a pancake and not baked like a pizza.

Kulfi is the Indian Version of Ice-cream

While Ice cream is the probably the World’s most popular dessert, India has another version of it called Kulfi. Unlike the Western ice creams, which are whipped and filled with air, kulfi is not whipped, which results in a solid and dense frozen dessert.

While traditional ice cream is made using dairy products such as milk and cream, combined with flavorings and sweeteners like sugar…Kulfi is prepared from evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream along with sugar. The mixture is boiled and thickened before it is cooled, put in moulds and frozen.

Like Ice cream, Kufi comes in lots of flavours and often dried fruits, saffron, nuts and cardamom are added as flavourings.

Papad the Indian version of a Tortilla

The Indian Papad or Papadum as it’s also known can best be described as a type of Tortilla. They are referred to as thin flat breads.

While the tortilla is varies in different countries the mexican version made from maize(corn) or wheat flour the Indian version is typically it is made from lentil, chickpea, black gram or rice flour.The dough of a Papad is shaped into a thin, round flat breads and then dried (traditionally in the sun) and can be cooked by deep-frying, roasting over an open flame, toasting, or microwaving, depending on the desired texture.

Papadums are typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India. It is also eaten as an appetizer or a snack and can be eaten with various toppings such as chopped onions, chutney or other dips and condiments.

Papads are also sometimes referred to as crackers.

Paneer is the Indian version of Tofu

Tofu or bean curd (the literal translation), is a food of Chinese origin, made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. The production of Tofu is like that of cheese except that its is made from soy beans and not actual milk.

Paneer on the other hand is an actual cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid and drained in a muslin cloth or cheeseclothand excess water is pressed out resulting in a unaged, non-melting, unsalted cottage cheese with a similar texture and consistency as Tofu.

Panneer like Tofu has a mild or very little flavor or smell on its own, so it can be used in a lot ways both in savory or sweet dishes, and is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. Paneer is one of the few types of cheese indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, and is widely used in Indian cuisine and even some Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisines.

Tandoori is the Indian version of Barbecue/ Barbeque

Barbecue/ Barbeque is the method of cooking over heat and hot gases of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal…this in turn has given rise to a the term barbecue as a noun which refers to foods cooked by this method.

In exactly the same way, an Indian Tandoor which is a cylindrical (almost bee-hive shaped) clay oven used in the Indian and other places like the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and Bangladesh has become synonymous with the food that is prepared in it called Tandoori dishes or Tandoori Cuisine.

The tandoor cooks by a combination of heat from smoldering embers in the bottom from burning charcoal or wood and heat which has been retained by the thick clay walls. The Tandoor is used for cooking certain types of Indian food, such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, kebabs and bread varieties like tandoori roti and naan. Marinated meats are lowered into the oven on long metal skewers and cooked in this smoky and extremely hot environment until done. Breads are cooked by being stuck to the inside of the oven.

Lassi is the Indian version of Milkshakes

A milkshake is a sweet, cold beverage which is made from milk, ice cream or iced milk, and flavorings or sweeteners such as fruit syrup or chocolate sauce. Their a popular beverage around the world and can be made in a huge number of flavours.

Similarly in India Lassi which is a chilled yogurt based beverage is very popular. Traditionally Lassi is savory and is made by blending yogurt with water, salt, and spices until frothy. But Sweet lassi is just as popular, flavored with sugar, rosewater and/or mango, strawberry, pineapple, lychee or other any fruit juice.

Lassi’s are a healthier alternative to Milkshakes which contain ice creams and sugar.