What would the name for a list of foods that are not specific to cuisine, cooking technique or ingredient?

This is a question about how to precisely categorize foods using plain English. A curry is a generic name of a dish that has the following, very broad characteristics:

Cuisine: Indian, Thai, Japanese

Cooking technique: stewed, slow cooked

Characteristics: spiced, wet,

Ingredients: spices, a protein, vegetables, stock

As we can see, it can't be categorized by features like its ingredients, cuisine etc. There are lots of dishes that have these broad definitions (soup, salad, burger, cake etc). "Dish" is too unspecific, as under the heading of curry there are korma, pathia etc and these are dishes in their own right. What should I call a list of these broad, cuisine-spanning names?


2 Answers 2


They are simply dishes. Some dishes may be specific to certain cuisines, or otherwise identifiable in your categories, but based on the examples you give, dish seems to be the simplest word encompassing all of them.

grocery (list), as mentioned in a comment is not a valid description, as it would apply only to people who buy these dishes in a ready-made version. When talking about cooking, grocery refers to ingredients, not the finished product.

  • Thanks for you answer, but I don't think dish works as it is too unspecific. Within the category of dish there is korma, madras ect so it needs to be less specific please. May 21, 2015 at 10:35
  • 1
    @ZiggyBracey: If dish is too unspecific, but you ask for something less specific, I don't understand what you mean ;)
    – oerkelens
    May 21, 2015 at 10:41
  • @ZiggyBracey Agreed with oerkelen's confusion. Also, can you describe the distinction you're drawing between korma and madras? I'm not very familiar with those foods, but I think korma is the dish and madras merely a sauce? If it's just a sauce, then it's not a dish. Perhaps you're looking for something a bit more emphatic? Prepared dish, perhaps?
    – Dan Bron
    May 21, 2015 at 10:45
  • @DanBron Sorry for being unclear! :D Korma and madras are two types of curry that have different ingredients and flavors. They fall equally under the heading of curry because they adhere to the other characteristics I listed above. A sauce would be a component of a curry so ranked underneath dish. What I'm looking for is the name of a categorization ranked above dish. if that makes sense. May 21, 2015 at 10:54
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    If you talk about "the dishes that this restaurant offers", yes, dish functions at the korma level. But you can also use it in "there were so many different dishes at the buffet: soups, salads, curries, roasts... and so many more dishes that I cannot even remember!"
    – oerkelens
    May 22, 2015 at 9:39

You should make your question more clear. Where are you planning to use this list?

I'd simply call the list refreshments

If you're looking for something really fancy, try comestibles

An item of food:

a fridge groaning with comestibles


EDIT: Thanks for updating your question. After reading it, I think you want to describe something like curry, but your beef with calling it, say, 'of Indian cuisine', is that curry isn't exclusive to any one cuisine.

I hate to suggest neologisms, but I think your best bet here is cross-cuisine.

As in: Tandoori is definitely Indian, but curry is cross-cuisine.

  • With refreshment, I think of something to drink, not something to eat. Comestibles applies to (eatable) ingredients, not (exclusively) to fully-prepared dishes.
    – oerkelens
    May 21, 2015 at 10:28
  • @oerkelens: Agree with the 2nd point. Disagree with the 1st. Can't speak for BrE and AmE, but InE speakers will be sorely disappointed if promised refreshments and offered just (non-alcoholic) drinks.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 21, 2015 at 10:33
  • Well, I get your point, but I doubt you can actually disagree with the statement that I think of something to drink ;) But it's good to know that food can be included in refreshments, at least in some cases :)
    – oerkelens
    May 21, 2015 at 10:44
  • @oerkelens: No I can't :). And if you ever host a social gathering in India, I advise you to include food in refreshments in ALL cases.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 21, 2015 at 10:46
  • I will keep it in mind :) So far I have only had the pleasure of being a guest at such events.
    – oerkelens
    May 21, 2015 at 11:52

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