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Is it possible to eat healthy in an Indian Restaurant?

Some tips to eating healthy in an Indian restaurant.

It is just a delight to eat in many Indian restaurants.  With their moist and wonderful curries and naans, paranthas and more.  It is definitely tempting and irresistible.  But after the meal, for me, guilt sets in and I have to fight the sleepy and slightly drugged feeling I get.  I wish I could go back in time and avoid the buffet and go a la carte sharing my portions with my partner.  Visions of me on the treadmill flash before me and I know I will be paying for the meal in more ways than one.

Over time I have come up with some suggestions for myself.

~  I never go to a restaurant when I am very hungry as I will surely end up in the buffet line and help myself to everything.
~  I remember the wonderful meals I have enjoyed in India that were low fat, well balanced, fresh tasting and just mesmerized my senses.  I take cues from those meals and put 2 small portions of a high fat items on my plate.   Then I try to go for the steamed vegetables avoiding any oil and lifting just the vegetable on my plate.  I then pile on the great tasting accompaniments which are low fat but add dimension to the meal like the salad, yogurt salad or raita, green chutney, sweet chutney and I let my waiter know to roast my papad instead of frying it in oil.
~  I try to remember that Malai means cream and Makhani is made in butter and avoid those items completely. Instead, I go for grilled dishes like tandoori jhinga or paneer tikka.
~  In the south Indian restaurant I have more idlis than dosas and ask them to make the dosa with as little oil as possible or I may be returning my dosa if I see it having excess oil.  I also fill up on rasam before the meal which naturally does not leave much room for the tempting goodies
~  After my meal I steel myself to go for the masala chai or filter coffee instead of a sweet, cream filled kulfi-faluda or the gulab jamun.   At times when the craving for gulab jamun hits me I will go to restaurant to only have the sweet dish.
~  I love the whole wheat tandoori roti over naan and I ask them not to butter them.  Naans have so much oil and white flour that I avoid them altogether - this is not a biggie for me as I genuinely relish the taste of a whole wheat roti.  If I am in a mood of a parantha then I just order parantha  and one dal/garbanzo dish (they are lower fat dishes) with a raita and salad just like we do in India.

Of course there are times I go to pig out and am good and ready to deal with the consequences and have decided to go all out that meal.

So, if you are worried about your weight but still can't resist the lure of eating out just get to this article before you venture out to an Indian restaurant - a reminder to eat well while taking some precautions.

Kavita Mehta

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This work is dedicated to my mother Shanta who taught me the tenants of Ayurvedic Cuisine and Knowledge.


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1990 to 2001 - Kavita Mehta.  All Rights Reserved.
Kavita has been giving classes on Indian Cuisine in Minneapolis for the past 10 years.  She now shares her work on her website for all to enjoy.


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