Traditional Indian food can be a healthy choice with a balanced diet of starch (steamed rice, Roti), tons of vegetables, dal (lentils), yogurt, saag etc. Unfortunately, you will also find many fat-laden Indian dishes in restaurants. Those dishes are great for festive, once in a while, occasions. However, for a regular healthy eating, here are suggestions for some lighter alternatives.
Healthy Indian Starch
When you are ordering curry or vegetable, order steamed basmati rice, which is healthier than fried variety such as Pulauo or Biryani. Make sure that your steamed rice does not come with generous serving of Ghee. Indian flatbreads, Roti or Chapatti are healthy than other fried flat bread Poori or stuffed Paratha.
Naan, the leavened oven baked flat bread is healthy as well in moderate portions. The key is to avoid extra butter or Ghee coating on your bread or rice.
Healthy Indian Appetizers
Anything fried such as Samosas or Pakoras are delicious but full of fat, starch, and salt. Instead, get thin lentil wafers, papadum or papad. Make sure to get roasted papads instead of deep fried ones. Many modern Indian restaurants now serve healthy baked alternate appetizer to fried ones too.
Healthy Indian Main Dishes
Curries are one of delicious ways to eat healthy vegetables - as long as it is not cooked in creamy sauce. Dal, which is lentil soup/curry, can be eaten by itself or usually eaten with rice or bread. Avoid eating too much dal because like any soup it is high on sodium.
Any meat dish or vegetarian dish with name such as Korma, Makhani, Malai, butter are creamy artery-clogging sauce. Most restaurants serve big portions of these curry, you can enjoy them in small portion by using it to flavor rice and flatbread, as it meant to do. Healthy meat alternates include tikka (not creamy tikka masala) and tandoori meats, which are oven-roasted.
Healthy Indian Desserts
Like any desserts, Indian desserts are sinful, high in sugar and fat. However, all Indian desserts come in comparatively small portions. Stick to the small portions.
When in doubt, ask your server about content of the dish and decide yourself rather than simply asking for subjective judgment if it is healthy. Like any food, in right portions, even unhealthy seeming Indian food can be consumed healthily. In restaurant best way to do is share dishes. Usually two dishes are enough for three people with big appetite. Another extreme way of portion control in Indian restaurants may be getting hottest side of spicy food.
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