If you are a keen cooking enthusiast and spend a considerable amount of your free time in the kitchen, then it is likely that you enjoy experimenting with different spices, flavours and dishes. There is simply no better way to educate yourself on the use of different spices and the impact they have on a dish than through trying your hand at creating your own traditional Indian cuisine.
Indian cuisine and spices that ignite your taste buds come hand in hand, however often involve a lot of oil, frying and essentially, unhealthy cooking methods. Luckily, with the idea of switching fatty, sugary and salt-filled meals for something a little kinder to your body becoming increasingly popular, chefs have uncovered various ways to make Indian cooking methods healthier.
6 Easy Indian Cooking Methods For A Healthier Diet
You don’t have to be a top chef to be able to cook with healthy alternatives, merely a few substitutes here and there will cut down your daily fat, salt and sugar intake dramatically. Opting for healthy alternatives are likely to add a few extra minutes to your cooking and preparation time, but we can guarantee that your body will thank you for it.
So, to kickstart your healthy eating while still enjoying a range of mouth-watering Indian dishes, keep reading for our six top tips!
Substitute Butter and Cream
Many different sauces used in popular curry dishes involve a tremendous amount of butter and cream, which is incredibly bad for your diet. A familiar cooking ingredient regularly used in Indian dishes is lentils, commonly used to make dhal. Dhal is created using pulsed lentils, which can be made into the thickness consistency of your choice and loved by many due to its creamy taste, perfectly complimenting a roti or chapati. The smooth, creamy taste lentils introduce when blended make them an excellent replacement for cream or butter.
Lentils have various health benefits as they are extremely low in calories and include next to no fat. For more information on the many health benefits of lentils, take a look at this Mind Body Green article!
You simply cannot enjoy a tasty curry without the accompaniment of a delicious samosa; however, unfortunately, this much-loved side dish can be very unhealthy. Samosas are slathered in oil and then fried until crispy, which uncovers a number of different health problems. We are all aware of the health risks associated with fried fast food; however, foods such as samosas are often left out of the equation. Regularly eating fried foods dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Fried foods, in fact, make you four to six times more likely to experience one of the mentioned issues in the future.
Eating foods that have been heavily cooked in oil puts your digestive system under immense strain. Your digestive system cannot break down the fat as quickly as it would do so normally, making you feel sluggish, bloated and uncomfortable.
Luckily, you do not have to entirely banish samosas from your diet, instead, cook them at home and bake rather than fry. Baking samosas only take around 30 – 50 minutes at high heat and turn a delicious golden brown colour. For a yummy vegetable baked samosa to try at home, take a look at this Jamie Oliver recipe!
Use Wholemeal Flour
If you love to make your own chapatis and naan bread from scratch, then why not consider swapping plain flour for wholemeal flour?
Wholemeal flour has considerably more nutritional value than plain flour due to their preparation methods. When making plain flour, grains will undergo heavy processing meaning most of its nutrients are lost before it even makes itself to the shelves of supermarkets. Whereas, no processing is involved in making wholemeal flour meaning it is packed with fibre and vitamins, making it the perfect combination for helping to lower cholesterol.
Slowly Cook Tomatoes
Many tasty sauces popular in Indian cuisine, such as masala and jalfrezi, are cooked with a base of tomatoes. Although tomatoes are technically a fruit which makes them healthy, when added to savoury food, they become very acidic which means sugar is often added to sweeten them up.
To avoid the need for adding sugar, cook tomatoes slow in a pan for around 20 to 30 minutes on low heat. Cooking slowly reduces acidity meaning that there will be no need for you to add sugar because the tomatoes will remain sweet.
Use Brown Basmati Rice
Similarly to the process in which plain flour is made, white rice, again, loses almost all of its nutrients in the process of creation. Bran and wheat germ and the top nutrients found in rice, however, are removed when white rice is made to ensure that it has a longer shelf life. Bran consists of over 40% fibre which contributes towards a healthy digestive system and stops bowel blockage. Wheat germ is excellent for boosting your immune system and keeps your cardiovascular system in working order, making the combination of the two incredibly beneficial to the body. Both bran and germ are kept in brown basmati rice meaning it has more antioxidants, is fantastic for keeping you healthy, but absolutely no change in taste.
Opt For Vegetable Dishes
It is thought that over 300 million people worldwide are vegetarian meaning that there is now a whole host of healthy meat substitutes that you can experiment with. Although a balanced diet involving meat is excellent for the body, consuming over the recommended intake of meat each week can cause long-term kidney damage due to the high percentage of protein found in meat.
Having a few meat dishes will cause no harm, but why not try something new and try cooking a vegetable-based curry involving all of your favourite veggie alternatives. Alternatively, you could opt for a meat substitute such as tofu, halloumi or even mushrooms.
For ten flavoursome vegetable curry dishes, head over to BBC Good Food!
Experiment With Healthy Alternatives!
Here at our Indian Restaurant in Milton Keynes, we love to experiment with new flavours, spices and ingredients. If you’re aiming to have a slightly healthier diet during a visit to Kakori, do not hesitate to make a special request to our chef who can tailor dishes to your requirements.
Making small changes to your cooking style can make a world of difference, you’ll not only feel healthier, but your body will most definitely thank you in the long run!