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Dining Out: Indian Cuisine

Characteristics:

The menu usually features rich curries, creamy sauces, a variety of intense flavors, and many vegetarian dishes. Spices play an important role.
Common Ingredients:

Rice is a staple of many dishes. A variety of breads are also usually present at every meal. Indian cuisine often emphasizes more carbs and spices, and less protein. Legumes and vegetables are commonly used. Many dishes are prepared with butter, or are fried or sautéed.
Hidden Dangers:
  • Avoid fried appetizers like Puri (fried bread), samosa, and pakoris.
  • Traditional Indian yogurt dressings are usually made with whole milk yogurt. Try to find versions made with lower fat content.
  • Ghee, a clarified butter used for basting, adds a lot to your fat.
  • Kheer, a rice pudding made with coconut milk, raisins and nuts can have over 500 calories.
  • Muglai (creamy curry sauce)
  • Coconut milk or oil dishes
  • Fried cheese appetizers
  • Watch for these words:
    • Puri (fried bread)
    • Muglai (cream sauce)
    • Ghee (clarified butter)
    • Khopre (coconut oil)
  • Pork Vindaloo Curry: 620 calories
  • Rogan Josh: 500 calories, 30g fat
  • Lamb Pilaf: 520 calories, 35g fat
  • Alu Gosht Kari: 600 calories


Healthy Finds:
  • Dals (lentil dishes) are packed with antioxidants and vegetable proteins, and are good sources of fiber.
  • Rice-based dishes, called Pilafs or Biryanis, provide complex carbs and tons of flavor.
  • Vegetarian curries are among the most popular curry dishes and some of the most nutritious.
  • One 7-inch piece of Roti (baked whole-wheat bread) has just 60 caloriess and 1gram of fat.
  • Dhakla, a popular Dal, has 111 caloriess and 5 grams of fat.
  • Basmati Rice with veggies
  • Mulligatawny Soup
  • Look for these words:
    • Dals (lentils)
    • Biryanis or Pilaf (rice-based dish)
    • Pulka, Naan, Chapati, or Roti (bread)
    • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Naan (Indian yeast bread): 79 calories and 2g fat
  • 1 large Pappadom: 50 calories and 3g fat
  • Tandoori Chicken: 260 calories, 13g fat
  • Murgh Tikka: 300 calories, 4g fat
  • Chicken Tikka: 260 calories
  • Dhansak: 105 calories

The Big Tip:

Indian food is meant to be eaten in a group and cannot be served without a combination, making it the perfect cuisine to share. Ask your friends to come along—the more people to share with, the better!
Substitution Ideas:

 Try This Skip That
Modak (steamed dumpling) Kheer (rice pudding)
Vegetable-based curry Cream-based curry
Chicken or seafood Beef or lamb
Papadum (crispy lentil wafers) Samosas (fried veggie turnover)
Ghobi Matar Tamatar  Pakora

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Member Comments

Of course, all of my favorites are on the no-no list! But I enjoy all of them only occasionally and in moderation. The lower calorie options suggested are also yummy - but sometimes a girl just needs a veggie samosa! :) Report
Good info! Report
ELRIDDICK
Thanks for sharing Report
Good article. Report
I love indian food. I feel like it would be no more "bad" for me than eating say a goopy cheeseburger. Report
Great. Report
Another thing to watch out for is portion size! Many restaurants serve you a portion that is 2-3 times larger than it should be. Report
good info Report
Lots of information here, but what's with the "low fat", "avoid ghee" mantra? That's outdated info. Full fat dairy is way healthier. Report
great article Report
Chana masala, dal soup, garlic naan, fresh salad with the lemon wedges are my favorites when I go out for this type of food. The restaurant I go to is more than happy to supply fresh veggies on the side, such as red onion, tomato wedges and fresh herbs. Report
There's also this really tasty spinach and cheese.
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Agreeing with many comments here.
THIS JUST IN: fat is a necessary nutrient!
If anyone remembers the low fat "foods" of the 90s (Snackwells, anyone?), we were constantly hungry... Report
SGFLAUTIST
I find this article very interesting. Being half Indian and having gone to this country numerous times to visit family, I find that not everything is true in this article. In India, no form of pig or cow are eaten in India, so one wouldn't see Pork Vindaloo in India. Indian food can be healthy for you as long as you are smart about how you cook the dish. Report