When it comes to a lot of Southeast Asian cuisines, the question of 鈥淗ot or not?鈥 takes on a whole new spicy level that most foreigners can鈥檛 even comprehend. I consider myself a medium-spice-level connoisseur; I can order hot wings hot but I stay far away from anything with the words 鈥渄iablo,鈥 鈥渕ind-melting,鈥 鈥渆xplosion,鈥 or 鈥渄eath鈥 in the title. A solid guest on Hot Ones, I am not.

So when I booked my trip to India, I was a little hesitant about the food, considering pretty much all of my friends鈥 reviews of their experiences could be summed up in three sound bites: 鈥淎mazingly beautiful country,鈥 鈥淎bsolutely bonkers traffic,鈥 and 鈥淪pice levels off the charts!鈥 I knew I wanted to eat as much delicious Indian food as I could (give me all the naan), but after two days of ordering dishes that seemed like they might kill my tummy (I鈥檓 looking at you, spicy biryani), I needed help. After talking to some locals I was able to pull together a solid list of tasty options that let me experience all the delicious flavors and spices of the cuisine without running to the restroom every 20 minutes.

When it comes to breakfast, most travelers opt to eat at the normally included hotel buffets. It鈥檚 a great chance to experience a little bit of each type of dish and decide for yourself what you can handle, but note that in more Westernized establishments they tend to go a little easy on the spice, knowing their clientele. There are three safe options that were fairly standard at every breakfast buffet.

1. Idli is a type of savory steamed rice cake, not unlike a Chinese bao in texture. It鈥檚 made out of fermented black lentils and rice and normally served with coconut chutney, with the option to sprinkle a little or a lot of curry spice on top.

2. Dosa is similar to a pancake or crepe in appearance but it鈥檚 made with rice and black gram (a type of bean grown on the Indian subcontinent). It鈥檚 spread thin on a hot skillet and cooked until crispy. Traditionally, it鈥檚 served with sambar, a warm sometimes spicy soup, and chutney, and sometimes stuffed with a mixture of potatoes and paneer.

3. Vada looks like an unglazed donut, but it鈥檚 actually a savory snack that鈥檚 made with ingredients ranging from legumes to potatoes. They鈥檙e generally fairly mild and also substantially dense, so they make a great breakfast to power you through the day. They show up in another delicious dish called dahi vada, which is basically vadas soaked in a thick yogurt sauce 鈥 also an excellent option when you鈥檙e looking for something calming for your stomach.

Now that you鈥檝e made it past breakfast and you鈥檙e out and about exploring, you鈥檒l inevitably end up staring at a menu wondering what on earth you should order for your next meal. Breads and plain rice are always the safest, but you鈥檒l want something to sop up with that freshly baked and buttery garlic naan.

4. Butter chicken or butter paneer are generally pretty safe choices when it comes to cuisine. It鈥檚 normally a mildly spicy curry dish, as it includes lots of cream and yogurt in the preparation. Plus, if you order a side dish of yogurt, you can really control the spice level with the sauce and it makes a great dish for dipping all the breads.

5. Tikka chicken is something you might be familiar with if you frequent Indian restaurants. It normally refers to a piece of chicken or meat that鈥檚 been marinated in yogurt and spices and then grilled. The spice can sometimes be a little hot, but if you order a side of raita (a condiment made with yogurt and raw or cooked vegetables), to cool the palate, it鈥檚 absolutely perfect.

6. Aloo gobi is a wonderful alternative to all the meats, as it鈥檚 made with potato and cauliflower spiced with all the delicious Indian spices. Vegetarian dishes are absolutely incredible in India and even if you鈥檙e an avid carnivore, make sure you save room to try some of the vegetarian offerings.

7. Saag paneer consists of leafy greens (spinach, mustard greens, or collard greens). It鈥檚 normally medium to mild in flavor and served with roti, a kind of flatbread. Especially since you鈥檙e traveling in a country where fresh salads aren鈥檛 the safest to eat, you鈥檒l want to get your greens fix in for sure, and this is a terrific way to do it.

By and large some of the most appealing dishes in any country come from the streets, and India is no exception. However, whenever eating street foods always be aware of where they鈥檙e being made, as cleanliness is an issue. That said, if you come across some of these street food classics, give them a try.

8. Pani puri or dahi puri are a very common street snack and consist of a round, hollow fried crisp called a puri that鈥檚 filled with a mixture of water, chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, or chickpeas. They鈥檙e very mild and delicious; the only thing you have to be really careful about is making sure they鈥檙e made with bottled mineral water.

9. Samosas are wonderful pockets of deep-fried goodness that are generally stuffed with a variety of potatoes, peas, and onions. Now I鈥檓 going to put a big warning on these, as they really do run the gamut from spicy to mild, so be sure to ask for non-spicy ones 鈥 or if you have a taste-tester buddy let them take the first bite.

10. Gulab jamus are perhaps one of the most amazing things you鈥檒l ever eat. These sweet and sticky fried dough balls soaked in a sugared syrup are not only the perfect way to end a meal, but they really do kill the spice from any dish.

And if you do accidentally order something that鈥檚 out of your tolerance range, be sure to wash it down with a sweet mango lassi!

What are some of your favorite Indian dishes? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Nicole Iizuka / Brit + Co)