3 Must-Try North Indian Dishes in Seattle

Table top view of authentic Indian food. Indian Food

In Greater Seattle, you’ll find excellent Indian shefs, and today, we’re diving into North Indian cuisine with North Indian cuisine specifically.

Northern Indian food tends to lean into more subtle and nuanced flavors and uses more moderate spices in its cooking. It’s also thicker and relies more on yogurt and dairy as opposed to the southern tendency towards coconut milk. Dishes like Indian unleavened bread and mild curries are plentiful in the style of Northern cooking. Moreover, the predominant spice mix is the blend garam masala, which consists of aromatic spices like cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves, and nutmeg. These flavors provide North Indian cuisine with its signature nuanced flavor profiles.

Aloo Samosa

Aloo Samosas are an irresistible savory fried pastry and a must-have when it comes to North Indian cuisine! The aloo samosa is far more than a humble street food — it’s a historic symbol of Northern Indian cuisine that dates back centuries ago. The dish was first referenced by a Persian historian in the 11th century and was brought over to India through trade & cultural expansion. While some accounts credit merchants for bringing samosas to India, it’s also said that Middle Eastern chefs introduced the snack after migrating to the country during the Delhi Sultanate rule. Shortly after its introduction, samosas earned the blessings of Indian royalty!

The process of making samosas is quite simple, and there’s plenty of room for creativity & customization. You can form the samosa dough yourself using maida (all-purpose flour), ajwain (carom seeds), oil, & salt. Afterward, fill the samosas with the ingredients of your liking, including vegetables, herbs, & spices like different chilis, seeds, & garam masala. After the samosas are shaped & formed — a traditional cook will deep-fry or bake the samosas. The delicious crispy samosa is often served with chutney, a savory Indian condiment typically made of tropical or acidic fruits, to help balance the strong flavor profiles of curries & other North Indian dishes.

Throughout the years, samosas have taken on a history of their own within India as more chefs introduce new creative fillings & spices. You’ll notice that in Seattle, many North Indian shefs will vary slightly in their samosa recipes, but one thing’s for sure – you won’t regret ordering this dish! If you would like to try aloo samosas in Seattle, Shef Premprakash’s is a local favorite — serving potato and green bean samosas, roti bread, and his famous mouthwatering Daal Makhani. Check out the homemade samosas made by shefs in your Seattle community.

Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice and Naan Bread -Photographed on Hasselblad H1-22mb Camera

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Murgh Makhani is one of the most beloved dishes of North Indian cuisine. Popularized in the West as butter chicken, this humble dish has become a popular staple in North Indian restaurants all over Seattle. The origins of butter chicken date back to 1947 — when North Indian chef Kundan Lal Gujral, invented the dish by adding tomato puree to his classic curry recipe.

The word makhani translates to butter, in reference to the abundance of ghee used in the recipe. Ghee is a clarified butter and an essential ingredient used in many Indian dishes. The main ingredients in this savory chicken dish are yogurt, ghee (clarified butter), and a variety of aromatic spices. The main ingredient, ghee, has a higher smoking point than regular butter which makes it the perfect ingredient for the bold curries in North Indian cuisine. Moreover, ghee is known to provide a slightly nuttier flavor than its unclarified counterpart, adding to the complex & nuanced flavor profiles that North Indian cuisine is famous for.

Making murgh makhani is quite simple. To prepare, marinade slices of fresh chicken in a whole-milk yogurt marinade along with your favorite spices from a garam masala blend. Lightly fry the marinated fresh chicken in a shallow pool of ghee, and the result is a comforting aromatic dish, best served with a side of Naan bread. A classic! It’s obvious to see why many Seattle locals & tourists alike, search for butter chicken in the city! It’s a go-to order and comfort food among so many North Indian communities in the city. You can find some of the best murgh makhani in Seattle from Spice Waala in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where they’re famous for their butter chicken that packs on the spice.

Baati - the traditional Indian (Rajasthan) ball-shaped roti (unleavened bread) cooked over charcoal ambers (ash).

Rajasthani Baati

Baati is a popular unleavened bread, famous in the North Indian state of Rajasthani. This baked bread is coveted for its high nutritional content & stable shelf life. The origins of baati date back to the dry-desert regions of Rajasthani, where water is an essential resource to the communities — which lends the reason why baati requires very little water for its traditional recipe & preparation.

Legend has it that Bappa Rawal, founder of the Mewar kingdom, first prepared baati around 700 CE. At the time, this unleavened bread was a preferred wartime meal, as Rajput soldiers would break pieces of dough into small balls before cooking them in the shallow layers of hot sand. Throughout the years, other communities and civilizations in India added ingredients & revolutionized baati baking techniques with innovation. It’s legends and stories like these that have transformed baati into the culturally significant dish we know and love today.

One can make stuffed baati with a simple mixture of wheat flour, baking soda, & ghee. How it works

  1. Gently mix your ingredients into a stiff and heavy ball of dough.
  2. Rest your unleavened dough for at least an hour before breaking off smaller pieces and shaping them into spheres.
  3. As an optional step, add your preferred stuffing like vegetables and spices before baking your baati in a 400°F degree oven!

The final result is an aromatic ball of dough that pairs well with any North Indian dish. When exploring Seattle, Rajasthani Thali of Issaquah is a local favorite. In this authentic North Indian restaurant, they serve authentic stuffed baati & other famous Rajasthani dishes that will leave you satisfied with your experience through the rich North Indian cuisine.

If you’re looking for more exceptionally cooked and prepared Indian dishes in the Seattle metro area… check out our list of delicious dishes in Seattle!

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