Indian foods vary from region to region and are diverse. These foods are usually made up of a mixture of spices and fresh ingredients. Many Indian dishes are easy to cook. Some easy to cook recipes would include palak paneer, papdi chaat, naan or kofta gravies. Indian dishes are vibrant, flavourful and aromatic. Also, not all Indian foods cause bloating or other digestive issues. The fennel seeds, cumin seeds, carom seeds added to the food aid in the digestion process.

Are Indian Foods Unhealthy?

All Indian foods aren’t unhealthy. Many Indian cuisines incorporate pulses and vegetables in the gravy. Pulses found in these gravies are good sources of fibre and protein. Many restaurant menus would also contain plenty of tasty as well as nutritious vegetarian dishes. The ghee used in Indian cooking is lactose-free and also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which helps in stimulating weight loss. Many Indian foods can also be prepared by steaming, grilling or roasting. Indian foods are also rich in spices like cumin seeds, turmeric, ginger or garlic all of which are known to have medicinal properties as well. Red Dot Shop’s desi food brands use local and organic produce that showcases how healthy Indian food can be, shop for it here.

What Are Some Popular Indian Dishes?

Let us look at a few popular and healthy dishes made in India.

1. Sambar

It is a South Indian recipe consisting of stew consisting of vegetables, pulses and spices. It is a good source of protein and fibre.

2. Dhokla

It is a tasty Gujarati dish. This food is fermented which indicates that it aids in digestion and is good for your gut. It is a good breakfast option and contains low calories.

3. Poha

Poha is made up of pressed rice, nuts and vegetables. It is a good breakfast option as well and also contains lower calories.

4. Rajma Gravy

It is a popular North-Indian dish prepared with lots of spices and incorporates kidney beans. It is a good source of protein as well.

5. Tandoori Chicken

This recipe is a combination of various spices and incorporates curd for marination. It is power-packed with protein.

Nutritional Recipes

Now that you know about Indian foods, let us look at some nutritious Indian recipes.

1. Vegetable Pulao

This tasty pulao is filled with fibre and nutrients which can help in providing satiety.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 200 kcals

Carbohydrates: 27 gms

Protein: 3 gms

Fat: 5 gms

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup peas
  • ¼ cup carrots
  • ¼  cup french beans
  • ¼ cup corn
  • 1 cup long grained rice (Basmati)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2-3 cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 1 bay leaf (tejpatta)
  • 4-5 cloves (laung
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 tsp biryani masala powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Method:

  1. In a cooker, heat oil. Add cloves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Saute for a while.
  2. Add the onions and saute them till it turns translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and chillies. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the biryani masala, vegetables, salt along with rice. Mix well. 
  4. Add 2 cups of water and close the pressure cooker. Let it cook for at least 3 whistles.
  5. Let the steam escape before opening the lid of the pressure cooker. Serve hot with cucumber raita.

2. Panchmel Dal

This tasty curry contains the goodness of five dals. It is high in protein and a good source of fibre.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 400 kcals

Carbohydrates: 35 gms

Protein: 14 gms

Fat: 16 gms

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup chana dal
  • ¼ cup tuvar dal
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • ¼ cup urad dal
  • ¼ cup masoor dal
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2-3 green chillies (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • Few coriander leaves (dhaniya) (for garnishing)
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Method:

  1. In a bowl, wash and mix all the dals.
  2. In a pressure cooker, add all the dals.
  3. Add 5-6 cups of water, along with salt and turmeric powder.
  4. Pressure cook the dals for at least 3 whistles. In a pan, heat oil. Add the dry red chillies, jeera and hing. Fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add chopped onions and saute for a while. Add chillies along with the ginger-garlic paste. Mix well.
  6. Allow the steam to escape the lid before opening the pressure cooker. Remove tadka from the flame and add this tadka over the dal.
  7. Add the lemon juice over the dal and garnish with coriander. Serve hot.

3. Chicken Tandoori

This tasty dish is loaded with proteins and a treat for non-vegetarians. It is grilled and devoid of fats used for cooking.

Cooking time:  35-40 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 425 kcals

Carbohydrates: 2 gms

Protein: 30 gms

Fat: 20 gms

Ingredients:

  • 500 gms chicken
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ cup curd
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder (dhaniya)
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add curd. Add ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, salt, garam masala, pepper powder, kasuri methi, turmeric powder and coriander powder.
  2. Add oil along with lemon juice. Mix well.
  3. Make a few cuts over the chicken and place the chicken in the bowl.
  4. Cover the chicken and keep it for five to six hours to make the chicken juicy.
  5. Preheat the oven for 20 mins for 240℃. Keep a foil over the oven tray and place the wired rack over the oven tray. 
  6. Place the marinated chicken pieces over the tray. Grill the chicken for a few minutes. Flip the chicken to cook the other side as well. Grilling would depend on the size of the chicken pieces.
  7. Set the oven to broil mode for the charred effect. You can move the chicken and wired rack onto the top rack of the oven.
  8. You can add the drippings onto the chicken to keep it moist. Burn a piece of charcoal and add this charcoal piece into a small vati. Place this vati into the chicken tray to obtain a smoky aroma. Cover it for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

4. Chana Masala

This tasty gravy can be consumed with puri or rotis. It is packed with minerals, fibre and protein.

Cooking time:  40-45 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 220 kcals

Carbohydrates: 25 gms

Protein: 10 gms

Fat: 8 gms

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpeas (chole)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 medium tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp amchur powder
  • 2-3 chillies (slit finely)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (dhaniya seeds)
  • 2-3 cloves (lavang)
  • ½ cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 1 bay leaf (tejpatta)
  • Few chopped coriander leaves (dhaniya) (for garnishing)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. In a pressure cooker, add chickpeas along with salt and water. Cook for 10-12 whistles and keep it aside.
  2. In a pan, add the spices and roast them. Let the spices cool. Blend the spices in a mixer and keep them aside.
  3. In a pan, heat oil along with the ginger-garlic paste. Add the chopped onions and saute till it turns translucent.
  4. Add tomatoes to the pan as well. Add the blended spice powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder along with chilli powder. Add the slit chillies as well.
  5. Add chole, salt along with 1 ½ cups of water. Stir the chana. Let the gravy thicken a little.
  6. Add amchur powder along with lemon juice. Stir well. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.

5. Navratan Korma

This tasty gravy is made up of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is usually served as a side dish in hotels.

Cooking time:  40-45 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 300 kcals

Carbohydrates: 22 gms

Protein: 11 gms

Fat: 18 gms

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 11-12 cashews
  • ¼ cup peas
  • ¼ cup carrots
  • ¼ cup potato
  • ½ cup beans
  • 2-3 cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¾ cup paneer
  • 5-6 almonds (chopped)
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 2 tsp raisins
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 3 tsp pomegranates (for garnishing)
  • Few pineapple chunks
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking

Method:

  1. Take two cups of water. Add onions to it and boil for 5 minutes.
  2.  Let the water cool. Blend them with chillies and cashews to a paste. 
  3. In a pan, fry almonds, raisins and paneer. Keep it aside.
  4. Steam all the vegetables till they get cooked. Keep it aside.
  5. In a kadai, heat oil. Add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin. Saute for a few minutes.
  6. Add the blenderized paste and cook for a few minutes.
  7. Add all the spices in the kadai. Saute well. Add a cup of water to the mixture and bring the gravy to a boil.
  8. Add the steamed vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Add cream to the mixture and mix well. 
  9. Add the paneer and almonds. Mix well. Cook for a few minutes by covering the lid.
  10. Garnish the gravy with pineapple, pomegranate, raisins and coriander.

Key Takeaways

  1. Avoid consuming fried foods like jalebis or pakoras. You can consume them in moderation.
  2. Traditional Indian foods contain a balance of carbohydrates, fibre, protein and fats making up a balanced meal.
  3. Indian foods incorporate fresh and seasonal vegetables as well as fruits which can provide you with essential nutrients.
  4. Traditional Indian cooking uses fewer preservatives and contains a mixture of spices.
  5. All Indian foods are not spicy. While preparing Indian food, omit the chilli powder or spices to make the food less spicy.
  6. Use oil in moderation while preparing gravies. You can use healthier oils like canola oil, rice bran oil and groundnut oil as well.
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