Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean eating bland, uninspiring food. The people of India have known this for years and enjoy a varied diet of vegetables, meat and pulses; all freshly cooked and packed with spices and flavours.
Many people assume that because a lot of it is fried, or because we enjoy it as ‘treat’ here in the UK, Indian food must be bad for us. But in fact, the cuisine of India has many health-giving properties that we could all benefit from adding to our western diets. Here are some examples of Indian staples and delicacies that are as delicious as they are good for us…
Originating from the south of India, the humble idli is cheap and easy to prepare, and is a versatile morsel that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even as a snack. Best of all though, this simple savoury cake is low in fat, easily digestible and contains amino acids in the dal and rice that’s used in the batter. The fermentation process of the batter also boosts the proteins and vitamin B content present in the dish.
Dhoklas are a staple snack in the state of Gujarat, and once again can be eaten at any time of day. Like idli, they are also made from a fermented batter – this time made with gram flour and then steamed – which boosts their nutritional value. Dhokla have a low glycemic index, meaning they release glucose more gradually; this makes them a great source of energy, particularly for diabetics.
Sattu is a type of flour that is used to make parathas, laddoos, lit chokhas and more. It used to be made with roasted chickpeas, but now includes other nutritionally dense ingredients such as barley and wheat. Sattu is rich in fibre and protein and is good for the digestive system.
One of the most popular breakfast cereals in northern India, Daliya is made with broken wheat or whole wheat grits. This form of complex carbohydrate– which can be served sweet or savoury –releases glucose slowly, making it a great food for diabetics, those with high cholesterol or those watching their weight.
Also known as pearl millet, bajra is particularly popular in Rajasthan, where it has been widely eaten since pre-historic times. These days it is most commonly eaten in the form of khichdis or rotis, especially in the cooler winter months.
Being a predominantly vegetarian country, dal (or lentils) make up a large part of the Indian diet. These dried pulses are packed with vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, thiamine and folic acid, iron and zinc. Lentils are also an excellent source of protein and several studies have shown that they can improve our both our heart and digestive health.
Of course it’s not just about health, but flavour too. To experience a taste of delicious Indian food – without the greasiness that can sometimes come with your standard high street curry house – head to one of London’s best Indian restaurants today.