Yeah man...tabla sneaks its way into a lot of stuff. Like, you'll be watching a movie with a jangly soundtrack and all the sudden be like, wtf, is that tabla in this?! It's pretty versatile.
But yeah, Indian is its whole own thing man. My two cents is that they are as comfortable with rhythm as we are with melody and harmony. So in other words, it's fairly normal for Western music to have pretty complex harmonies and melodic movements, but to us it's intuitive...it just feels right. But we rarely venture outside of of 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4. Indian music, on the other hand, tends to be pretty linear melodically, and has almost no harmony (save for the droning), but rhythmically gets very complicated very quickly, to the point that without serious training, you can't really count it. But to Indians, those rhythms are much more intuitive and natural.
That said, I admit to knowing very little! I'm just an outsider looking in and appreciate it. If you're interested at all, I would recommend Derek Trucks...he's a great gateway to go from Blues to Indian, haha. I don't know why but this forum doesn't like me posting the youtube link, but check out his song "Sahib Teri Bandi" live on YouTube.
Also, Ali Akbar Khan is where a lot of people start.