Indian Food Glossary (Hindi to English)

This Indian Food Glossary is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. Please bookmark this page and check it often 🙂

If you’d like to see all of my Indian recipes, you can find them here.

Jump to a letter:

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Aam = mango
Achar or aachar = Indian pickled vegetables, made with spices and oil
Achari = pickle flavor
Adrak = ginger
Ajwain = carom seeds
Akhrot = walnuts
Aloo/Alu = potato
Amchur (Amchoor) = green mango powder (sour)
Amla = gooseberry
Anardana = pomegranate seeds
Angoor = grapes
Arbi = taro root
Atta = whole wheat flour used to make Indian flatbreads like chapati or roti
Avial = south Indian vegetable curry made with yogurt

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Badam = almond
Bagar = tempering, where you add spices to hot oil. Also known as Tadka, Vagar, Vaghar
Baingan = eggplant
Bajra = pearl millet
Besan = chickpea flour made with chana dal (chana dal are split brown chickpeas which are different from American chickpeas. In the US, chickpea flour is made with white chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Learn more about Indian lentils here)
Bharta = a mashed vegetable dish (eg baingan bharta is a mashed eggplant dish)
Bharwa or Bharwan = filled (eg. bharwan mirchi or bharwa karela)
Bhelpuri = a popular Indian street food made with puffed rice, chutney, onions, spices. Also known as Jhalmuri
Biryani = a popular well-seasoned rice dish that can be made in a variety of ways (here are all of my biryani recipes)
Bhaang = fresh cannabis leaves (used in recipes like this Indian drink)
Bhuna = a dry stir-fried dish
Bonda = crispy fried snack
Burfi = Indian fudge

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Chaat = a savory Indian snack that can be made in a variety of ways. It is often made with fried bread, potatoes, chutneys and chatpata (tangy) spices.
Chai = Indian tea
Chakra Phool = star anise
Chana/Chole = chickpeas, garbanzo beans (try this recipe)
Chana Dal = split bengal gram also known as split chickpeas (this dal comes from brown chickpeas and not from garbanzo beans – see this blog post to learn more about Indian lentils)
Chapati = whole wheat unleavened flatbread. Also known as roti or phulka
Chatpata = a tangy flavor (adjective used to describe a dish)
Chawal = rice

Cheeni = sugar, also known as shakkar/saakar
Chhoti elaichi = green cardamom (chhoti means small and green cardamom is smaller than black cardamom)
Chikoo = Sapodilla
Chilke = peel (e.g. karele chilke means the peel of a bitter melon)
Chini/Shakkar = sugar

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Dal = lentils (learn more about Indian lentils here)
Dahi = yogurt
Dalchini = cinnamon
Dhania = coriander
Dosa = a south Indian crepe made with a rice and lentil batter.
Dum = steam (eg dum aloo is a dish where potatoes are cooked slowly in steam)

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Elaichi = cardamom


Firni/Phirni = rice pudding typically made with coarsely ground rice (or rice flour)


Gajar = carrot
Garam Masala = a north Indian spice blend that translates to “warming spices”
Ghee = butter with milk solids removed (the milk solids are slightly caramelized then strained and what remains is ghee)
Gobi = cauliflower
Gosht = meat, specifically that of goat or lamb
Gud/Gur = jaggery (dark brown palm sugar)

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Haldi = turmeric
Halwa = pudding (try this recipe for carrot pudding)
Hara Dhaniya = cilantro leaves
Hari Mirch = green chili
Hing = asafoetida (spice)


Idli = steamed rice cakes
Imli = tamarind


Jaggery = dark brown palm sugar
Javitri = dried mace arils
Jeera = cumin

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Kabuli Chana = chickpeas/garbanzo beans (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Kadhi = yoghurt based gravy made with besan
Kaju = cashews
Kala namak = black salt
Kali Elaichi = black cardamom, also known as badi elaichi
Kali Mirch = black pepper
Kalonji = nigella seed, also known as black onion seeds
Karhai = Indian wok
Kela = banana
Karela = bitter melon (here are my bitter melon recipes)
Karipatta = curry leaf
Kasoori methi = dried fenugreek leaves
Keema = ground meat curry sometimes made with peas (here is my recipe for keema and keema biryani). Also known as qeema.
Kheer = a creamy milk based north Indian dessert (often called “pudding” but is more like “dessert soup”). Kheer can be made in a variety of ways but is most commonly made with rice. Also known as payasam in south India.
Khus Khus = poppy seeds
Kishmish = raisins, specifically golden raisins.  Also known as sultanas.
Kofta = meatball (can also be a vegetarian “meatball”)
Korma = a mild, creamy curry that can be made with cashews, heavy cream, or yogurt
Kulfi = Indian frozen dessert

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Lal Mirch = red chili
Laung = cloves
Lasan/Lehsun = garlic
Lassi = a yogurt-based drink that can be made either sweet or savory (eg mango lassi is very popular)
Lauki = bottle gourd
Lobia = black eyed peas (see a list of Indian lentils here)


Maa ki Dal = whole black lentils (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Malai = cream
Makhani = a rich and creamy dish made with butter or ghee (see this recipe for butter chicken or this recipe for butter chickpeas)
Masala = a mixture of spices used in Indian cooking
Masoor Dal = red lentils (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Matar = green peas (see this recipe for aloo matar)
Meetha/Meethe = sweet (adjective) or dessert (eg. meethe chawal translates to sweet rice. here is a recipe)
Methi = fenugreek (there are different forms of fenugreek and they are not interchangeable: seeds and powder, fenugreek leaves)
Mirch = chili
Mirchi = spicy
Mithai = sweet (noun)
Moong Dal = small yellow lentils (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Murgh/Murghi = chicken
Murgh Makhani = butter chicken (here is a recipe)
Mysore pak = ghee and besan based fudge

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Naan = flatbread cooked in a tandoor (a clay oven)
Namak = salt
Nariyal = coconut
Nimboo = lime



Pakora = Indian snack, fritters
Palak = spinach
Panch Phoron/Paanch Phoron = a spice blend common in Bengali cooking.  Generally consists of methi (fenugreek) seeds, rai (mustard seeds), kalonji (nigella seeds), saunf (fennel seeds), and jeera (cumin seeds)
Papad = a thin and crispy lentil crepe, generally served fried or roasted as an accompaniment to a meal
Paneer = a vegetarian protein, akin to farmer’s cheese
Paratha = flaky flatbread Poori: deep fried flatbread
Parmal = pointed gourd
Payasam = a creamy south Indian milk based dessert (often called “pudding” but is more like “dessert soup”) that can be made in a variety of ways. Also known as kheer in north India, payash in West Bengal, and Dudh Pak in Gujarat. (here is my recipe for carrot payasam)
Phool Makhana = fox nuts
Poori/Puri = deep fried puffed bread
Pulao = a seasoned rice dish, typically less seasoned than biryani. Also known as pilaf.

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Qeema = ground meat curry sometimes made with peas (here is my recipe for keema and keema biryani). Also known as keema.


Rai = mustard seeds, also called sarson
Raita = yogurt condiment that sometimes also includes vegetables
Rajma = red kidney beans (here is a recipe)
Rasam = thin and spicy broth. A south Indian soup.
Roti = whole wheat unleavened flatbread. Also known as chapati or phulka


Saag = a dish made with leafy greens (e.g. sarson ka saag is a dish made with mostly mustard greens and palak saag is a dish made with mostly spinach. Here is my recipe for saag)
Sabudana = tapioca pearls
Sabut Moong = whole mung beans/green moong (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Safed Mirch = white pepper
Sambar = a spicy south Indian lentil soup with vegetables
Samosa = an Indian snack. A triangular pastry usually stuffed with a potato and pea mixture.
Sarson = mustard greens or mustard seeds
Sarson ka tel = mustard oil
Saunf = fennel seeds (comes in two varieties – moti/badi saunf is for cooking while Lucknowi saunf is used as a digestive).
Seb = apples
Sherbet = drink
Sooji/Suji = Semolina

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Tadka = tempering, where you add spices to hot oil. Also known as bagar, chhonk, chhaunk, chhaunka, vagar, vaghar.
Tandoor = a clay oven
Tandoori = a dish cooked in a tandoor
Tej patta = Indian bay leaf
Tel = oil
Tikka = grilled pieces of meat or paneer (can be served on its own or in a sauce)
Til = sesame seeds
Tinda = apple gourd
Toor Dal = split pigeon peas, also known as arhar or tuvar (see a list of Indian lentils here)
Tulsi = holy basil
Turai = Ridged Gourd


Undhiyu = a Gujarati mixed vegetable dish


Vatana = dried white peas




Yakhni = stock/broth often used in pilaf and soups


Zarda = yellow dessert rice (here is my recipe)

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