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Healthy options for Indian cuisine

| On 31, Jan 2015

As someone who grew up on home-cooked Indian food, I never questioned whether what I was eating was healthy.

It was only later that I discovered that most people from other cultures avoid  Indian cuisine because they consider it fat and calorie-laden. It’s true that Indian curries are made with either cream or ghee and this is rather fattening, but much of every day food at home is perfectly healthy eg thosai, yogurt rice, lentils and vegetable curries.

But eating out especially in fancy restaurants can be a problem because dishes are cooked with generous amounts of butter and ghee. Ghee is essentially clarified butter (unsalted butter is simmered until the water has boiled off, the surface fat is spooned off discarding the milk solids at the bottom). Naturally, eating too much ghee is unhealthy.

As for carbs, you can’t enjoy an Indian meal without rice or flatbreads to mop up creamy gravy, but you can choose the healthier options when you next dine out.

For instance:

  1. The best choice for breads is chapatti made from wholemeal flour. It is much less greasy than prata, or even naan which is brushed with butter or ghee just before serving.
  2. If you can’t live without your daily rice fix, ask for half the usual rice portion and fill up on more veggies for added fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  3. Instead of a meat curry, opt for a dish with paneer (cottage cheese). Delicious and satisfying, you won’t miss meat unless you are thoroughly carnivorous.
  4. Crisp samosas are irresistible, but like all deep-fried snacks, so unhealthy. Consciously enjoy one or two, and STOP!
  5. Dessert? Don’t even look at ghee-and sugar rich-sweets like gulab jamun or jalebi. If you must have dessert, have a serving of kulfi (Indian ice cream). Kulfi contains less fat than vanilla ice cream. The most sensible way to finish your meal is with a cup of masala tea, preferably with less sugar. – Evy Thng
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