Healthy Recipes From Around the World - India
By the wlr team
When we think of Indian cooking, the food that immediately springs to mind is the curry with its aromatic spices and fiery taste, along with flavoursome rice and flat breads.
However Indian cuisine is more than just Chicken Tikka Masala, it is as diverse as the people who inhabit the continent and is the result of a melting pot of local customs, religious beliefs, regional ingredients and climatic differences.
If you’re looking to expand your curry repertoire or just want to learn how to cook healthy Indian food, WLR can help. Browse our Recipe Database by ingredients or calories, and choose from hundreds of recipes that are simple, easy and delicious. Try it free for 24 hours!
What is Healthy Indian Cooking?
The diverse climate of the region, ranging from tropical to alpine, has resulted in a broad spectrum of ingredients being available while in many cases food has become indicative of religious and social identity, with varying taboos and preferences dictating the favoured ingredients. Vegetarian dishes naturally feature prominently.
Spices in particular have played a major part in the cuisine of India, and the types used were again dictated by climate, availability and religion (where they would have been selected originally for their medicinal properties). However, curries need not be instantly hot; you can get very satisfactory spiced dishes that do not use hot chillies in the recipe. Today many of the spices used in curry are familiar to us for their heat: chillies providing instant heat, while ginger adds a slow mellow burn.
The very nature of Indian foods means that they are packed full of vitamins and healthy fibre, while at the same time the array of vegetarian choices makes them a low saturated fat option, as long as they are cooked without the lashings of clarified butter (ghee) and cream so favoured in the UK variations. Nothing adds calories to your diet faster than a takeaway curry, as these have been updated to cater for our Western love of creamy sauces and deep fried accompaniments, so opting for our home-made versions can save your waistline and your wallet!
Healthy Indian Food Ideas
Chicken Saag is a spinach based poultry dish rich in phytonutrients which have been suggested to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase muscle synthesis so helping burn fat! The spinach will provide iron, vitamin C and fibre, while the chicken provides a low fat protein source and essential vitamins and minerals. The calcium in the low fat yoghurt may also help facilitate fat burning.
Chana Daal and Squash Curry will boost your fibre intake and could help lower cholesterol. Lentils are said to aid in the management of blood-sugar levels thus preventing hunger pangs and the urge to eat more, and also provide good amounts of B-vitamins and protein. Squash delivers dietary fibre, and provides significant amounts of potassium, vitamin B6, and folate; all great for keeping you healthy. In addition, the orange colour of squash indicates a far more potent powerhouse of nutrients: carotenoids, and beta carotene in particular. These have been implicated in the prevention of heart disease and certain cancers.
And if this was not enough, squash may also have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content which could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Our Chicken Tikka recipe is a lower fat version of the familiar Masala, and can be enjoyed with a crisp green salad and onion. As with Chicken Saag you will get protein and vitamins from the chicken while the spices are alleged to have antiseptic, anti inflammatory and cholesterol lowering properties. Chilli in particular is used in many supplements to increase metabolism and speed up fat burning.
Benefits of Healthy Indian Cooking at a glance:
Has been shown to lower cholesterol, to have antibiotic properties, to assist in the removal of excess mucus, and to stop platelets in blood from sticking together and creating blockages. Garlic has been used effectively against fungal, yeast, bacterial, and viral infections.
Has been used medicinally to strengthen and warm the whole body. Traditional uses include: as a digestive aid, an analgesic, an antiseptic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties.
The seeds, which are often ground, aid digestion and also relieve flatulence, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
All parts of the plant can be added to your healthy Indian food. This herb has been attributed with aphrodisiac properties and has been used to ease migraines and for intestinal complaints.
The slow mellow burn of ginger is familiar in most curries. Although the shoots, leaves, and flowers are eaten in many dishes, it is the rhizome which is most familiar to us, and has been proven through clinical trials to be effective against nausea. Ginger is said to treat indigestion and flatulence and to reduce fever.
The hot constituent of this fruit is a substance called capsaicin. It has been used as a pain reliever for centuries as well as an aid to increase circulation. It is also suggested that the consumption of hot peppers stimulates the body to produce endorphins which not only speed up metabolism but could be a contributory factor to our enjoyment of a good curry as the ‘high’ produced is addictive!
Cooking Healthy Indian For Yourself:
Why not have a go at healthy Indian food yourself:
- Why not try some Indian Style Tofu
- Or one of our Low Fat Indian Curries
- Find out more about the Calorie Content of Indian Foods
If you want to keep track of your healthy Indian food, WLR can help! Use your online Food Diary to quickly log your recipes and see how many calories you have left each day to lose weight! Try it free for 24 hours.
WLR has been on a culinary adventure to bring you healthy alternatives to international cuisine: