Why Indian Food Is Fattening, And How to Make it Healthier

Many people think that healthy takeaway food means simply avoiding a burger and fries or KFC chicken. Often, ethnic foods such as Chinese or Indian are seen as the healthy option – perhaps because they don’t come with a side order of fries and a coke.

Unfortunately, it’s a nutritional minefield out there, and things are rarely what they seem.

I am a great fan of Indian food – so here’s my take on ‘healthier options’ when eating Indian.Dairy Fat
Most curries are made with either cream or ghee. This will obviously vary from chef to chef and the menu on offer. Ghee is essentially clarified butter (unsalted butter is simmered until water has boiled off, the surface is spooned off discarding the milk solids at the bottom).

There are some that claim pure ghee has health benefits – however I suspect that most ghee used in modern Indian restaurants is probably a different version (perhaps vegetable-based) than the traditional pure butter version.

i-16f1491ad496eb59960f7a9e2a139568-garlicnaan.jpg
Garlic Naan

Fattening and Calorie Dense

A typical meal will also be accompanied with a flatbread and copious amounts of rice. Most people choose a naan (nan) bread. A naan is made from white flour, and is usually brushed with butter or ghee just before serving.

There are other breads such as roti, paratha, chappati, and all the variations that go with them. Typically a roti is made from wheat flour or a whole wheat flour blend.

Effectively you have a very calorie-dense meal with very little in the way of vegetables.

A diet like this will be fattening for most people. However there are choices you can make to eat healthier Indian food.

How to Make an Indian Takeaway Healthier

I used to get a chicken curry with naan and rice. That was enough to do me for two meals. Nowadays I’m even more choosy.

Once a fortnight I go out by myself and eat an indian meal at an incredibly leisurely pace. I have sat in the restaurant while others have come and gone. This is the anti-thesis of the fast food mentality.

I order a selection of entrees and sides:

  • A chicken tikka entree. Typically this is pieces of boneless skinless chicken marinaded in a varying array of flavors. This is not served in a sauce – it’s just the chicken.
  • Roti. Often the roti breads are a far smaller serving size than the naans and use wholemeal flour.
  • Salad. I ask for as large a serving as they will make. In most places the salads are delicious, and usually consist of a mix of cucumber, capsicum, cabbage, carrot, etc. Only once has a restaurant looked bewildered at my salad request. They ended up serving me with what looked like some quickly thawed frozen veg from a bag!
  • Sometimes I’ll get a glass of red wine.

That’s it. Due to the pace of the meal (and the level of protein) I feel completely satisfied. Other options include vegetarian curries. You just need to ask.

Never Enough
Just last week, in the time it took me to consume the above, a couple near me consumed a creamy curry and rice each, a naan each, asked for extra rice, and asked for an extra naan. An astonishing amount of food, eaten in a very short space of time (you tend to notice these things when eating alone!).

We really do need to re-learn the lost art of enjoying food.

82 Comments

Comments now closed
  1. maaz

    Not just Indian but any food that is high in carbohydrates and fats is going to be fattening. Although Indian food is the most delicious food in the world, it uses high amounts of carbohydrates and fats. And this is not just limited to restaurants, even homemade food is quite high in carbs and fats.

  2. Becca

    Jeesh! The author explained that westernized Indian restaurants are different from authentic Indian food. Just like the tex-mex Mexican food we eat here in the states is nothing like Mexican food that is eaten in Mexico. A health food store near where I live, offers the most incredible Indian food I have ever tasted. Beats the restaurant style that we are accustomed too. Fresh, little to none oils. You can taste just about every spice it’s made with. I’m trying to convince them to open a restaurant. Anyway, The author clearly states that most western Indian restaurants cater to our taste in food which is creamy style high fat foods. Indian food is one of my favorites and I enjoy the many flavors it brings.

  3. Dr. Mehta

    Article is 100% correct, most restaurants and eateries cook with bleached wheat, not so organic ghee and oil as well as quality of raw materials. Mostly for economic and taste reasons. There is no other reason why you feel better when you eat the same thing cooked at home vs outside, its the poor raw materials. Well written

  4. Adil

    I think most of you have missed the point here. This article is not written for people who are from India – whether they live there or not. It is written for people who enjoy Indian food but don’t know much about it and live in places where the Indian food that is offered and promoted in restaurants IS mostly fattening. The purpose of the article is simply to inform people who don’t understand Indian food, but enjoy it, how to enjoy it in a healthier way. The article is just trying to be helpful – nothing to take personally.

    • Haven

      Adil – you are absolutely correct. AUTHENTIC Indian FOOD is extremely healthy. Indian food served in restaurants in the west is a variation that is mainly adopted to western tastes and heavy on meat, creamy sauces and yummy yummy naan!

      Thanks Jim F for the tips on how to eat healthier in Indian restaurants in the west. I used this last night and ordered a salad with my curry and naan.

  5. Indian food eater

    This is a gross generalisation by someone who clearly knows little about Indian food beyond their local takeaway. You mentioned salad, but didn’t mention ANY of the many healthy Indian vegetable dishes?

    Indian food can be very healthy. Firstly, most curries people in India eat are water, not cream or coconut milk based. Especially in poorer communities, this isn’t affordable.

    Secondly, Indian food is majorly just daal ( lentils, slow releasing carbs, high protein)’and sautéed vegetables of a whole variety. Not to mention the array of spices used, all relatively calorie free, vitamin packed and the ability to ensure healthy food still packs a punch.

    Roti is a very healthy carbohydrate, if it is made with wholewheat flower even more so. It’s something that does not come out well if there is too much oil. My family has always made it with none.

    Indian food rarely has high calorie meats, like red meat, that you’ll find in your shepherds pies, moussakas, bolognese sauces, bacon, lasagnas, salami and chorizo. All delicious, not healthy. Nor cheese ( besides the far healthier paneer), no mozzarella topped with a heaping of Parmesan. Yes you still have your red meat curries and stuffed bread, but they’re far more rarely ate. Most Indians are fine with daal, roti and sabzi ( vegetables).

    I will agree that proportionately Indian food has a lot of carbs. But 2-3 rotis and vegetables still doesn’t get the calories too high, especially if you just have 1-2 full of the sautéed veg and a salad. For dinner today, I had a small portion boiled brown basmati rice, cooked with mixed veg, topped with streamed butternut squash and roasted peppers, onions, cauliflower and brocolli with a chicken breast. All coated in delicious Indian spices in a low fat yoghurt marinade. Sprinkled with seeds and ate with a raw spinach salad. Not a drop of oil needed, and deliciously healthy food meeting all dietary requirements.

    Whilst I agree that most Indian vegetables are cooked too far and loose some of their nutritional value in the process, this is easily amended and still does not take enough away for every Indian cuisine to be percieved as unhealthy. There could also be more fish in the every day diet, but coastal areas get a good share of omega three. Was just on Jamie Oliver. Com, and most healthy meals are Asian. I’d probably say Japanese, Chinese, Thai food etc, is healthiest. Western food can be very healthy and delicious, but it’s far easier to get the calories in given the variety people have here.

    India is such a huge country, and each corner differs greatly in terms of cuisine from one place to another. Just as much as food in Europe differs from each other. Makes sense right, big piece of land, more people, more ideas, different climate, different cuisines… So it’s not fair to even judge all Indian food as one particular way, let alone judge it only from the list on your local restaurant’s menu…

    • Asmita Bose

      Thank you for your reply. I was just thinking the same what you put beautifully in words. Today I ate small amount of red local grown rice with daal, shaag curry with sweet pumpkin, jhinge posto and fish curry with salad. All of this are made with very little oil and not overcooked. This is the type of food which people in eastern part of India generally consumes. It has all the essential nutrients that is needed for our body.

  6. Prakash

    Every country has a mix of both healthy and unhealthy dishes. Indian food in general is calorie dense because of the way it is eaten. A regular, traditional Indian meal contains 70%-80% high carbs such as white rice or roti, only 20% – 30% of the meal contains vegetables, meat or pulses. So it doesn’t matter how healthy or oil free the curry is cooked, overall calorie content of the meal still remains very high. But, ofcourse, one can change that into a healthy meal by reducing carb content and increase the content of the veggies. Unfortunately, thats not how an proper Indian meal is served or eaten.

  7. Ruby.

    Ah, a ‘fan’ of Indian food, not an Indian. Please stop spreading trash about another culture’s food when you are an uneducated moron who doesn’t know the basics about writing a factual article.

  8. Ruby.

    Your entire article itself shows that you are discussing RESTAURANT food, which is unhealthy for every food in the world, and that you are discussing how PEOPLE make the food. Nothing in this crap reflects anything of Indian food, the healthiest.

  9. Komal

    False. Indian food is the healthiest thing on the entire planet. It is the way PEOPLE make it that makes it unhealthy bullshi*. Roti is as simple as whole wheat flour and water, period. No salt or oil is needed for that and it is the most healthy carbohydrate to consume, as well as whole wheat and brown rice. It is when PEOPLE add abnormal amounts of oil and salt in the food that it becomes unhealthy, AND when they then sit around all day with zero physical activity. Life in previous eras were highly active and any toxins and unhealthy fats, which are natural in everything, would be eliminated. So change the way you deliver a message, because you’re giving a whole lot of wrong ideas and misconceptions here. Ayurvedic food is the original ‘Indian’ food and it is modern methods of using impure food that makes it unhealthy. Indian food is NOT fattening, dead animals are. And raw vegetables is also a stupid, moronic western fad that puts the body into such hard labour that it gives out. Indian food, every single spice used, is carefully designed for proper digestion, proper absorption, and overall health. Stop adding abnormal amounts of oil to the food, make sure the ghee you use IS pure, stop adding abnormal amounts of salt to the food, and you have the healthiest food on the planet.

    Learn the right facts. ‘Ethnic Indian’ food is the healthiest.

    • Tommy

      ‘”Ethnic Indian’ food is the healthiest.” lol! Never in a million years!

  10. Lekshmi

    8.Indian curry contain only these things which I list below-
    1.coconut
    2.onion
    3.tomato
    4.ginger garlic paste
    5.spinach
    6.yogurt
    7.coriander leaves
    8.mint leaves
    7.green chilli
    These are the only ingredients found in most of the curries with spices and powders mentioned above.No cream,no butter,no cheese,no cream.
    You can

  11. Lekshmi

    I am a south Indian.Our food is healthier due to many reasons.I will mention it one by one.
    1 All eat cooked food so it’s super easy for digestion.(Not half cooked or partially cooked).Mostly it is prepared in pressure cooker.Its the most healthy and easy way to cook rice and red meat.We rarely use oven.
    2.In all our dishes we add healthy powders like Turmeric , Pepper , Cumin , Coriander and spices like cinnamon stick,cardamom…etc.These are our treasures.Rarely seen in other countries.

    3.Indian food contain no unhealthy cream or sauces.These are used in other countries.We rarely use them.Since our food is spicy to make other country people to eat it restaurants use cream and sauces.

    4.We daily eat home cooked foods.Once in a while we go to restaurants as a family get-together.Mostly once in a week.It is a women’s duty to cook food daily breakfast lunch and dinner.Whatever the circumstances are … if she is working or not working it doesn’t matter.(99℅ womenin India cook food daily)
    5.About 30-40% of Indians are pure vegetarians.So more vegetarian dishes.we can make about 100 plus vegetarian dishes.Because in each states they have different dishes.
    6.From remaining 60% non vegetarians they rarely eat red meat.Almost 50℅
    non vegetarians eat only fish and chicken.So only 10℅ eat red meat.So out of 100 only 10℅ cook red meat lije beef or pork at home.And one more thing only once in a week they buy meat/fish.All eat more vegetarian dishes than non vegetarian foods.
    7.Indian dishes use coconut oil and ghee.Both are good for our health compared to butter , cheese , cream ,sauces.
    You guys have seen only restaurant foods.These foods are modified to attract you guys who cannot handle spices and masalas.Do come to our home and then comment on real Indian food.☺

    • Chris King

      I’m white but second this. There are some authentic restaurants though and they offer great food. Not all dishes are spicy so that no one can handle it or it is just me because I ate a lot of spicy stuff. Actually, eating super spicy is unhealthy. It can give you ulcers, stomach cancer, and even esophageal cancer.

  12. Rafael15

    I retired as a chef some 26 years ago just about when take-aways were kicking off (irrelevant) . Having retired to Spain I have taken up cooking Indian food as a hobby and of course to eat. As a rule I do not eat Bread and potatoes but really enjoy the variety of Indian breads and potato dishes and they are a joy to make and eat. I did discover though, that there is a great deal of oil in a lot of recipes. If you use a good, thick bottomed non-stick pan you can easily reduce the amount of oil by 3/4. if you fry things like onion bhaji the oiI does not go into the bhaji if you keep the oil level below the bhaji thickness, they seal (if the oil is hot) apply this to everything you fry and it just drains off into the (crumpled) kitchen towel. I also find that Indian food is very satisfying in its richness so a large amount is not required. Simply put. Cook your own! It is very theraputic. Consume in moderation and ENJOY!

  13. Kevin Pemberton

    Curry is not unhealthy if you leave out the ghee or cream. Curry is made of vegetables and spices and water. It’s the sundries that are fattening ie naan rice chips and usually beer

  14. Nola West

    July 22, 2016
    Hi Jim F.! My daughter, Krystal, turned me on to Indian Food & I’ll tell you – “I’m Hooked!”
    Now, Krystal is a Lax Vegetarian -lol [she love broiled or grilled chicken breast], & she orders take out to bring to me once a week. She gets 1) naan bread that’s w/ onions baked; not fried in & NO Butter [very good w/ extra sweet onions.]. 2) vegetables [green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions] in a tasty & spicy tomato sauce [not creamed] & she asks for potatoes in it. 3) spicy tomatoe creamy sauce with chicken breast pieces & potatoes. 4) rice.
    That’s it! I worry, though, that we might be eating a high-calorie diet due to the creaminess & potatoes.
    Could you please give me your thoughts &/or suggestions to make it less fattening?!?! I’d really appreciate it!
    Sincerely, Nola West

    • Amanda

      There is no such thing as “Lax Vegetarian”. That meal has nothing to do with a vegetarian diet. Chicken is meat.

  15. phoenix

    Indian food is healty im from west india and in every shaak we have TONS of veggies in it also the roti takeout is full of oil so yeah better to make indian food at home gosh these websites make me not want to live anymore

  16. B J Mistry

    Indian Food is NOT fattening, It is so good that people do not stop eating. Need to eat small portion of meal with lot of raw vegetables to fill up the tummy.

  17. Louise

    I think we should listen to the INDIAN people posting because I’m pretty sure they would know better than any American who somehow thinks they are an authority figure on the subject. Indian people grew up eating Indian food…So they know what’s authentic.

    • Komal

      Wow, I didn’t even realize the fact that this article is written by some ‘Jim’, doubtfully an Indian.

      If indeed he is a non-Indian, he is just a bullshi* propagator of false lies against Indian foods. And Indians, unfortunately being slaves of whites because of how the british invasion destroyed their sanity, will now believe this load of trash.

      I’ve already made a post so I won’t repeat it again, but Indian food is the healthiest on the planet and it is the wrong ways in which PEOPLE make them that make them ‘unhealthy’. Abnormal amounts of oil and salt. The carbohydrates in Indian food is as simple as roti, which is literally whole wheat flour and water, or brown rice. If people choose to have refined rice, use abnormal amounts of oil and salt, sit all day instead of exercising, then that is their problem. That is not how Indian food is. Traditionally and throughout, Indian food has been and will remain the healthiest. What this person needs to be saying is how PEOPLE make the food ruins it. moron person he is.

    • Ayush Timberlake

      Myself being an Indian i would like to say indian meals are worst. Eating only one type of food throughout their life. BTW I like American food…

  18. Srikala

    Florence, Lakshmi, Manjunath
    I am no expert but over the years i have realized a few things:
    1. Forget calories. Eat fresh, home cooked food as far as possible.
    I did this once for a month without expecting any wt loss. I ate basic rice+ veg/lentil curry in the afternoon and night which i cooked with 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut oil. The cooked rice would fit 1 to 1.5 servings of a bowl. I wud eat a snack mostly sweet, in the evening and breakfast as cereal with milk and tea/coffee with sugar. Surprisingly, i noticed that i lost a few kilos without doing too much exercise other than the 10min to and fro walk to the station and some yoga stretches. Just my personal experience.
    2. Always sit and eat in a relaxed way; not walking and eating. Eat when hungry.
    3. Remove processed food as far as possible; if you crave for a sweet or something eat it, but make sure your main meals are healthy and unprocessed. Eat fruits, nuts, etc.
    4. When you eat regularly like this, eventually you can feel the loss . When you touch ur tummy for e.g u feel that your are losing inches. For me, when i have eaten a lot of processed food i notice my tummy has grown fat.
    5. Exercise but start slow and build up if you have never done before; don’t start with a big bang and then quit.

    I wud say losing wt and eating healthy is a personal journey, what works for my body will not work for another. But this you would find out for urself. Pls do not blindly follow all the fad diets which are there on the internet.

    • amrit bawa

      I would argue rice is the most unhealty processed food on the planet totally unfit for human digestion. The indian diet can be healthy but it is usually cooked far too long in far too much oil to haver any health properties left. Fry the onions fry the garlic and fry all that again when you add the next ingredient and then fry again whilst waiting for the next ingredient!!!

      • Komal

        Huhlarious.
        Do you realize there are hundreds of ‘types’ of rice? You yourself mentioned it’s cooked ‘far too long’ and in ‘far too much oil’ – that’s not a reflection of Indian food, it’s a reflection of the morons making it.

  19. Srikala

    Coconut oil and unprocessed butter/ghee are not unhealthy!! That is a concept promoted by the West and studies have proven that coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world. See the book ‘The Miracle of Coconut Oil’, i forget the author’s name. Also Ayurveda says ghee calms the nerves. so you will see in South Indian meals, a little ghee is added to the rice. Yes of course if you eat too much butter,oil, etc or for that matter even too muc rice, wheat etc you will gain weight…The key is moderation but please by no means avoid coconut oil/butter. In fact since the introduction of vegetable oils diseases have increased in the modern world!!

  20. Anon

    I can tell you there is nothing healthy about Indian food, well at least what you get in restaurants in rich Western countries. Traditional Indian food is nothing like what you get in restaurants. A typical Indian meal is roti, some kind of curried or spiced vegetable(usually a dry one), a lenti soup and rice, that is typical Indian food. The kind of food you get in a curry house is not healthy at all. In fact one full plate of food from an Indian restaurant buffet has as much as 3000 calories!!!
    Chinese food in Western countries is just as bad, with a bigger emphasis on meat, deep frying, and fat. Take out Chinese in the West is horrible.
    I think in general restaurant food is not healthy, it tastes good for a reason, restaurants add in unhealthy things like fats and sugars to make you want to eat and enjoy it.
    Even Mediterranean style take aways who people assume are healthy are not.

    If you want a good healthy meal you will have to make it yourself or if you are rich get a personal chef.

    • DV.

      LOLLLL.
      Your opinion of ‘Indian food’ comes from RESTAURANTS of the west. You are a joke from the very first sentence you spewed out.

  21. josie

    pplz shud just eat rite and go out there and get ative insead of all these diets that are runing thier bodys bt then again its ok :p

  22. Pre

    You have it quite wrong. Authentic Indian food is way more balanced and nutritional than what you portray it to be in your comment here. A meal is a balance of carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre, etc. And you are completely wrong about the amount of oil used. True that some dishes do require more oil than others, but that is mostly the case in food cooked during celebrations. I’m sure it is less than the amount of cheese and cream added in Italian cuisine that seems to be a staple in America!

    • DV.

      No dishes require abnormal amounts of oil. it is the fault of the morons cooking it who want useless taste.

  23. Tiger

    I agree. The person who said that is wrong.

  24. anky

    try indian food & it will drive u crazy.
    i can garuntee u dat its much better den any american or chinese cusine.
    i will suggest all of them who have never tried our nutritious & finger licking food dat they must have it.

  25. Faisal

    Whoever said you eat either rice or bread, but not both, is quite wrong. You don’t eat them together, that’s true, but it’s very common to first have bread and meat/veggies/lentils, and then have rice with meat/veggies/lentils.

  26. Roopa

    Masalaa Chas is NOT south Indian :-). In south India its called Moru and doesnt have the masalas (jeera etc) that Masala chas has.

    • Hobbyist

      South India have neer moru. It has ginger , Hing, jeera , curry leaves and coriander leaves which is even more flavourful than chat masala . Please don’t degrade south India with your very little knowledge .

  27. Deep

    The liquid is called ‘Masala Chaas’.Its diluted yoghurt/curd with some salt,cumin,black pepper,green chillies,coriander,mint and cilantro in it.The ‘masala/spices’that I mentioned above gives it the interesting tangy flavor.Some prefer to have it plain too especiall in South India which is devoid of the spices mentioned above

    • Hobbyist

      South India have neer moru. It has ginger , Hing, jeera , curry leaves and coriander leaves which is even more flavourful than chat masala . Please don’t degrade south India with your very little knowledge .

    • Hobbyist

      Sorry previous reply was not intended to you . Very sorry

  28. Aryan

    hmmm …. Makes sense!

  29. nkb117

    i’m an indian-american who grew up with north indian home cooking, which my mum managed to make very light and healthy. i’ve grown to love tibetan food, which might be described as the love-child of indian and chinese food. it’s got very light, filling recipes, and every tibetan restaurant i’ve been to has been one which is dedicated to organic eating.

    unfortunately, for those of you who want to lose weight or learn the perfect calorie count– no such formulas. from the ayurvedic perspective, of course, your needs are based on your dosha. and from a western perspective, calories in < calories burned, but this shouldn't mean neglecting essential nutrients that your body specifically needs. the best thing to do in my opinion is visit a professional. it's easy to do a google search for local chinese or ayurvedic medical practitioners-- always ask for licenses and/or references. same goes for an allopathic nutritionist. on a personal note, when i left mum's cooking for college, i chose to live the dr. andrew weil lifestyle, which was a huge success for me. it's all about self-education and self-awareness. it also focuses on adequate nutrient intake and effectively 'troubleshoots' those nasty chocolate cravings and dining out

  30. jssam

    I wonder whether Indian food is after all healthy, but any Indian in India they would say it is healthy. The Indian is laced with heavy doze of cooking oil, and flavored with spices. There is some truth that spices are good since they help in various ailments, and help to increase blood circulation. Obesity among Indian community is high,pot belly Indian among Indian community in India is frequent site, with little regard to his health or his longevity. Many Indians would value or champion the virtue of vegetarianism but little do they realize that diet the Indian consumes lacks various amino acids and basic protein. They would assert that they have substitute plant protein is pulses, and vegetables. But the manner of cooking and heat, and subsequent warming of food(this a quite common phenomena) virtually wipes out basic nutrients in the food. Hardly any raw vegetables are consumes for yogurt raita(vegetable salad laced with yogurt. So ask can we really see the health in Indian Food, taking in consideration the life style we lead in fast moving world.

  31. bi*ch

    sup freaks i dont like u guys

  32. Haglund

    Authentic Indian food is very very healthy due to the spices (all of which have medicinal properties) and vegetables. The stuff you get served in Indian resturants is nothing like authentic and is loaded with fat. When you order curries they all contain a base sauce which is made in large batches each day. The base sauce is mostly pureed onion, garlic, ginger, and other vegetables in small quantities — the rest is made from vegetable oil. You shouldn’t eat Indian takeaway all that often because it’s very bad for you, and it’s full of salt. Excuse my spellings.

  33. Jaideep

    I live in India, have tried various type of Indian food. The best is punjabi food as it includes pulses which are healthy and it is also very tasty. Rajasthanni food does not contain much of oil is very light. Gujrati food usualy have generous quantities of sugar and is sweet. Coming to South India, where right now I am living (I am north indian) is entirely different here good quality wheat is not used and rice used also different in north i.e. Basmati is used which is difficult to digest but in south, rice used is easy to digest and can be eaten in large quantities with Sambhar, Rasam and Kozikhom. The food all over India is healthy if eaten in moderation, and is from authentic Indian and hygenic source.

  34. Anthony

    I’m a huge Indian food fan, and only recently branched out to try Afghani food. It is somewhat similar to Indian food, but not as spicy, and the naan is completely different. They do have tandoori also though, which is also yummy.

  35. Anthony

    I like indian food!

  36. kuldeep

    Above comment’s are too good but I wanting to know about nutritional factor’s in all vegetabal’s.

  37. Kumar Prasad

    Iam an indian by roots and visit this beautiful country often. I must admit that theres nothing (Absolutely nothing healthy ) in any indian restaurant. White rice, Chillies, Fried food , White flour, Vanaspati( Hydrogenated oil)White sugar, Refined products and off lately (thanks to globalization) lots of pre processed ingredients go into the making of all food ( irrespective of the geography). The best option in my opinion is to eat Fruits, nuts, dry fruits and yogurt(only fresh yogurt) and plain boiled vegetables while travelling. The yogurt available in most of the eat outs is made from processed milk and apparently a lot of urea and other chemicals go into getting a good texture . I personally believe that it is not the amount of food( quantity) but the quality of food and the late night eating habits that make indians obese .The ghee served in most places is nothing but tons of Vanaspathi . I would also like to make a comment on the famous chicken available all over . Chicken available commercially is fed with lots of hormones (female hormones) to boost their growth . Nowadays a fully mature chicken is available in about 50 days in comparison to a corn fed (organic ) chicken grown in the country side which attains its full maturity in a span of few months . Please note that all the FEMININE HORMONES that goes into the chicken !! algo goes into ones body when that chicken is consumed (god alone help when this chicken is deep fried). Even traditional Indian cooking in most of the cases (IN most of the cases) is no exception. Gone are the days when unpolished rice gruel with pure home made ghee and plain lemon pickle (wihotu chillies of course) are served. And gone are the days when chapathis are made from fresh milled wheat. I was appalled to see some commercial Whole wheat brands mixed with soya flour (Lots of research has been done on the ill effects of soya and there are a lot of people out there giving their testimonials and their bad experiences with soya. Even ayurveda which is the millenary flag ship science of India is no excepttion. The ancient Indian texts clearly mention the definition of a good lifestyle and eating habits. It is shocking to note the amount of chillies (They came from latin america and consumtion of this ingredient causes the depletion of the mucous membrane making a person vulnerable to so many modern health realted problems),refined food (white flour, white rice)that is served in the ‘AYURVEDIC’ resorts and healing centers.

    I guess the only way out is to trace the culinary,cultivation and harvesting skills of the previous age old generations and pick the best of their customs and traditions. ( This is true for any culture )

  38. Jan

    Quito said:
    I think Thai fish sauce is very high in sodium.
    […]

    Asian food in general does have lots of sodium, compared to say, Mediterranean food. But since I have low blood pressure, I love it. Bring on the fish sauce, the soy sauce, the bonito flakes…

  39. Quito

    Shea Verpucci wrote:

    Whatever you eat, eat in moderation. Drink some alchohol once in a while, include fresh fruits and vegetables in your every day diet. Eat anything “Steamed”. Stay away from anything “fried”. Stay away from “sweets” and marry a good looking Asian woman who can cook.

    Women too?

    I think Thai fish sauce is very high in sodium.

  40. Shea Verpucci

    I am an expat Indian and I have lived all over the world. The best South Indian food (health wise) comes from Kerala and Karnataka. Foods from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are more tastier (not necessarily healthier) than their bordering neighbors. That’s probably because of their liberal use of meats and oils.

    North Indian food is somewhat similar to the food you get in the Indian restaurants in the US, although not 100% authentic. Indian food in general contains a lot of healthy ingredients like garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander so on and so forth. Along with that, come the fatty substances like dahi (yoghurt), makhan (ghee) etc. They make foods tasty, but a there’s a tendency to gain weight. You will see fat people everywhere in India, once they reach 40. Although, there is a health craze in India lately, the foods habits still remain bad and there’s a lot of emphasis on sweets. Even chai comes with atleast 2 / 3 teaspoons of sugar.

    The best asian cuisine is Korean and Japanese. Most of their dishes include a generous portion of vegetables, seaweed, fish, boiled rice and very less sodium. In fact, salt is not even used in Thai cooking. They use fish sauce instead. Again, chinese food is the not the same in the US as it is in provincial China. There is no concept of “Sweet and sour” crap, that’s ubiquitous all over Chinese menus.

    Moral of the Story :
    Whatever you eat, eat in moderation. Drink some alchohol once in a while, include fresh fruits and vegetables in your every day diet. Eat anything “Steamed”. Stay away from anything “fried”. Stay away from “sweets” and marry a good looking Asian woman who can cook.

  41. Shefaly

    And as for chinese food: may I recommend Center of Science in the Public Interest’s publication (very well-researched and comprehensive) ‘Restaurant Confidential’. Thanks.

  42. Shefaly

    Very interesting discussion, especially the several reductionist comments about what is a very multi-faceted, varied and culturally nuanced cuisine.

    Most ‘Indian’ food served outside India is mughlai. The chicken curries made in butter/ ghee/ cream, as well as tandoori (tandoor = an open oven) chicken and naans are mughlai in origin.

    North and South Indian food varies widely within itself from state to state, and region to region. Many of the spices used are the same but their use varies widely creating subtle tastes. Both use a lot of lentils of different kinds as well as vegetables, although it is true that ‘rotis’ (and variants of unleavened bread) are more common in the North than in the South. It also depends on where you stop defining North! West Bengal is technically ‘north’ compared to Madras, but they eat rice and fish predominantly.. In short, generalisations will always mean disagreements.

    Both North and South Indian foods can be unhealthy in their own right: North Indians may have butter, but a lot of South Indian food is cooked in coconut oils (mostly sat fats; Proof? it freezes within minutes in a fridge)

    Desi girl: I must disagree with you on the ‘vegetarian-ness’ of South Indian food. Keralite cooking as well as Chettinad cuisine feature plenty of meats and seafoods.

    In short, if you are all really so keen on Indian food and want it healthy, then I am afraid you need a bit more research and a little less reductionism based on very limited experiences which the comments here betray. And besides the best way to control what you eat is of course, to cook it..

    Madhur Jaffrey and Atul Kochar have written pretty good books about North Indian cooking. Most South Indian cooking I know I learnt from my South Indian friends’ mothers but I am sure some books exist.

  43. H

    My friends owned a Indian restaurant in Philly. I used to wait for them some time. You learn a lot when you work at a place right :).

    Many Indian resturants add Heavy Cream in curries.. believe me its heavy (Calorie/Fat wise http://www.recipezaar.com/library/getentry.zsp?id=361). Makes the dish tasty. If you want to contain calories, ask them for dishes with out cream or if they can cook your dish with out cream.
    When getting rice as a side, ask for non buttered/oiled rice.
    Choose Chapati/Roti instead of Nan/Paratha
    If getting lassi, ask them if it is a by product of low fat milk
    When ordering a curry, ask them to put as much less oil as possible.

  44. Ramona

    Lakshmi, women usually burn nine calories per pound. So, a 100 pound (45.5 kilo) woman needs only 900 calories per day [just to breathe, beat your heart, etc.]. Obviously, this woman would be extremely malnourished (though thin) unless she planned her daily menus very closely indeed. Any exercise that you do burns more calories, so you can eat more. If you get the recommended 30 minutes a day, you can add somewhat to your ration, and not gain weight. Anyway, get a healthy body weight range for yourself from this website:

    http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/bmi_tbl.htm

    then multiply the middle number of the range by 9.

    Men, unfairly, can generally burn 11 calories per pound per day, just to breathe. But, did God create them to love chocolate? No, it was given to us!

  45. manjunath

    what to eat and what to not eat to be healty

  46. lakshmi

    i want to know perfect callaries food per day how much we have to take no bady has not given cerrect answer i am veg

  47. Florence

    please let me know how to reduce weight in a healthy manner.

    i am desperate now

  48. india

    “The north indian one has a green kind of liquid yogurt which has cilantro in it, which is my favorite.” “The north indian one has a green kind of liquid yogurt which has cilantro in it, which is my favorite.” <--- maybe its frickin CHUTNEY youre trying to describe!!

  49. india

    I’m a real indianamerican. obviously, noone has been to india. This stuff in the restaraunts…has been toned down about 555 TIMES. (they have to, non indians cant eat very spicy) Real indian food is way more spicy. Especially andhra and karnataka. And no, not all south indians eat fish. only in kerala and andhrapradesh do they eat fish. karnataka is southern, and its ALL VEGETARIAN. and you say the food is fattening? well in any restaraunt you go to, they dont exactly serve healthy food. and uh, rachel raw? youre kinda dumb. “The north indian one has a green kind of liquid yogurt which has cilantro in it, which is my favorite” <----oh uh..i dunno? maybe its frickin CHUTNEY you are talking about

  50. desi girl

    I’m an indian girl and i’m from North India. Anyone who says that all indian cooking is the same is WAY off. North indian cooking uses more wheat products (like the naan and roti)and also uses more meaty items (like chicken). South Indian cooking uses more rice in it than North Indian and is also more vegetarian style. So if you love food but want to eat healthy vegetarian food, i highly recommend South Indian cooking.

  51. health and home

    Hmmmm. Looks nice. Gotta try this also

  52. Nandita

    Hi Interesting blog there!
    I’m Indian, live in Bombay. Have lived in the US for a while and I know restaurant Indian food isn’t real Indian food. India has over 25 states and each state having several styles of cooking. The traditional styles always followed ayurvedic principles, thereby, they were extremely balanced, healthy, minimum flavouring, maintaining the true taste of the food. Sadly, the world sees only the CURRIED Indian version.
    I do admit that our traditional cuisine is surely one of the healthiest cuisines around, sadly people don’t get to taste it outside of our homes 🙂

  53. Rachel Raw

    Thai cooking is also similar to Indian cooking, and I find Thai personally more healthy.

  54. Rachel Raw

    That’s another thing. Most of these ethnic foods you find in restaurants aren’t always the kind eaten at home by these people. The Chinese restaurants, for example, make alot of foods that they usually only eat during celebrations.

  55. Rachel Raw

    There’s different types of Indian cooking. There’s North Indian cooking and South Indian cooking. The north indian cooking comes from people who live in the northern part of India. And the south Indian cooking comes from people who live in the southern part of India. North India is colder. South India is hotter. North Indian cooking consists of more fattening foods. South Indian cooking is less fattening, I think. But both use oils which make it fattening. But i think south indian cooking uses much less oil than north indian cooking. North Indian cooking is just drenched in alot of fat. NOt south indian cooking, because the climate is hotter. South Indian cooking does not use ghee or cream and is spicier. And they eat more rice based foods. They also like fish. And the south eats more meat. People think south indians don’t eat vegetables as often, which is not true. They always incorporate vegetables on the side. But I think they cook the vegetables in a way which kills the nutrients.

    Oh and South Indians do incorporate yogurt into their food. But they don’t cook WITH the yogurt. The yogurt is usually on the side. And they make different types of yogurt. There’s the more liquid type yogurt which has mustard and spices.

    The north indian one has a green kind of liquid yogurt which has cilantro in it, which is my favorite.

  56. Susanna

    Tandoori selections are often good choices for Indian as they are made with a yogurt base and then baked.

    As for making curries without frying the chilis or spices in oil… try toasting them. You can do this in a toaster oven or in a frying pan without oil. Then once toasted, add directly to your curries or grind them if desired in a coffee grinder used strickly for spices. The flavor is just as intense as frying your spices.

    As for your onions, you can use a light spray or a tiny bit of oil mixed with broth. It does not take much before the onions release their own juices.

  57. Alex

    Trying to keep to Montignac diet stage 1, not mixing oils with carbs. Would you cook vegetables without oil if you are making a bean curry? I can’t avoid frying onions or chillies in oil first, can you?

  58. Jane

    If you want authentic food of any type you have to go to a source that cooks and serves it in the ways of that region or country.

  59. peppa

    Jim,

    That’s very little food for a night of dining out, wow! 🙂

    I think it’s important to mention yogurt as a staple in Indian cuisine; many of the sauces and dips are made from yogurt. Also the health benefits of many spices (such as turmeric and coriander) are important to consider. There is nothing wrong with curries and rice as long as they’re prepared authentically and consumed in moderation.

  60. Steven

    Indian food is a great alternative especially when eaten in the right context – meaning Indians are mostly vegetarian.

    You can visit my own Interactive Fast Food browser to compare fast foods to each other.

  61. iFitandHealthy

    I love Indian food. There are some exceptions, but I think authentic version is always healthier than what we get here.

    For instance, professional cooks from China, when they arrive in US, often go to a school so that they can learn to cook all over again – “sweet and sour pork” is not found in authentic Chinese cuisine.

  62. Jim

    Most people’s experience of Indian is in the noisy food court at the local mall. The noise alone is enough to give me indigestion.

  63. Heather

    Since I only eat Indian a few times a year (unless I make it at home and control it, and then it’s more *modified* Indian) and it’s my favorite food, I just disregard Calories and such for then and go buckwild.

    It’s my enjoyment food— everything else, I will *ALWAYS* track. Indian, no way, love it and the variations too much.

    You should see me grilling the people if I go to a Thai restaurant, etc. It’s so hard to get nutritional data on ethnic food, that you’re almost restricted to cheap chains when you’re eating… just so you know exactly what and how much you’re eating. Which sucks for me, since I’d give up Chili’s or Applebees for Poonas or Thai Down any day. =/

  64. Nic

    In my experience, the vegetarian options at Indian restaurants are not only probably healthier than the meat options, but they taste better, as well. Of course, this probably varies from city to city and restaurant to restaurant.
    I always get a spinach and mushroom dosa, eat half, and take the other half home. It comes with lentil soup too. Lots of veggies, no meat…it’s very good!

  65. Regina Wilshire

    There is definitely a difference between “authentic” Indian food and that perverted (sorry, lack of a better word) to accomodate American tastes. Having traveled to the sub-continent and spoiled with the “real” thing, it’s frustrating here in the US to get decent Indian food!

    The breads are typically, and supposed to be made from whole-wheat flour or flours from barley, millet, chickpea – if you’re going to an establishment using white flour, they’re cutting corners for cost saving. It’s also unheard of to eat both the bread and rice with the meal – it’s one or the other, not both.

    Vegetables, from my experience, are always part of the traditional Indian meal – they’re either incorporated into the main dish or within a selection of side dishes with spinach, eggplant, onions, carrots and peas featured prominently. Most restaurants in the US offer them as side dishes, a la carte – but they are supposed to be part of the meal!

    Lastly, and very important to highlight, is that even those dishes that are cream-sauce/ghee based are powerhouses nutritionally – the spices especially boost the nutrient-density of almost any Indian main dish. I have one chicken dish recipe I got while overseas, and when I ran it through a nutrient calculator, I was shocked it provided almost all nutrients for a day in one serving….and yes, it has cream, full-fat yogurt and butter in it. This is something I’ve noted in many of the recipes I have that are “authentic” Indian – they’re rich with nutrients and that’s often from the spices and natural fats used in copious amounts!

    It’s definitely time consuming, but in almost any good Indian/Pakistani restaurant you can get your food prepared traditionally….you just have to ask for it to be authentic, as they’d eat it. But, you also have to like it spicy – because that’s what you’re going to get!

  66. Dietography.com

    I agree – we seem to be obsessed with scoffing down as much food as we can in a short period of time. Take you time with food, you’ll enjoy it more and you won’t get indigestion. 🙂