Indian cuisine is full of healthy ingredients like fresh vegetables, lean protein and exotic spices, and it’s hard to go wrong when choosing Indian dishes made with these ingredients.
Indian cuisine is rich in flavor and full of healthy ingredients. Making the best choices at an Indian restaurant can be easy to do when you know just what to look for and what to avoid. Next time the powerfully exotic flavor of Indian food is what you’re craving, keep these tips in mind to order the best choices:
- Most dishes are loaded with vegetables such as spinach (“palak” or “saag”), cauliflower (“gobi”), eggplant (“baingan”), potatoes (“aloo”), onion (“pyaas”), all of which add nutrition with few calories, provided they are not doused with cream or oil.
- Spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and red chilies are common additions to Indian dishes, and they have been shown in several studies to have a positive impact on health—from helping keep blood sugar steady to reducing inflammation.
- Indian cuisine features many vegetarian sources of protein, such as tofu, garbanzo beans (“chana”), red kidney beans (“rajma”) and lentils (“daal”). These plant-based proteins not only add protein with little saturated fat, but many also add fiber, which is often lacking in our diets.
- For appetizers, opt for a cup of dal soup or some Indian bread called “naan” and raita, which is a cucumber and yogurt based dip instead of the traditional deep fried samosas.
- Steer clear of curries that are coconut (“narial”) milk based, as these tend to be higher in saturated fat. Instead, opt for vegetable based curries and stir fry dishes.
- Be wary of the menu terms “ghee” (which means clarified butter), “korma” (creamy sauce), “malai” (clotted cream), “makhani” (butter), “namak” (salt), which all have the potential to be high calorie/fat/sodium dishes.