Curry without a worry

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 16 March 2009.
Tagged: eating out, fat, healthy eating, take-away, vegetarian

Curry without a worry

Do you love a good curry? Do you start salivating at the thought of all that spicy Indian fare? Well, it's not surprising. Indian food is one of the most colourful, spicy and richly flavoured of cuisines.

Curry pros and cons...

On the plus side, nutritionists love it because Indian chefs make vegetables, lentils and chick peas taste so good - it's one of the best cuisines to choose if you're vegetarian. And many dishes are quite low in salt, as the heat from chilli and the flavour of the spices provide heaps of flavour.

On the minus side, many dishes are cooked in ghee (clarified butter) and so are high in saturated fat. The desserts can also be a problem as they tend to be both high in fat and very high in sugar

My beef with Indian food though has to do with the way we eat it in Australia. I always find it too heavy. We tend to overdo the meat or chicken portions and skimp on the vegetables and we end up leaving the table feeling absolutely stuffed. I've put together some tips to help make a night out at the local Indian restaurant less heavy so you can leave the table without having to undo your belt a notch!

Curry without a worry!

  • Start with kebabs from the tandoor oven - cubes of chicken or lamb marinated in spices and dry-cooked in the clay oven. Avoid those ever-present deep-fried entrees like vegetable samosas, prawn pakoras and onion bhajias
  • Order an Indian meal banquet style. It's the simplest way to avoid ‘curry overload'. You get a taste three of four dishes without overdoing just one. You can enjoy one hot, one mild, a lentil dhal plus some vegetables and fragrant basmati rice.
  • For mains, order a mix of chilli-hot vindaloos, curries with yoghurt sauce, rogan josh (lamb or goat marinated in spicy tomato-onion sauce) or milder kormas and Kashmiri-style chicken tikka.
  • Look for dishes on the menu that say "cooked with spices and fresh spinach" or "curry with onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs and spices".
  • Say "No!" to butter chicken. Steer away from those dishes that are prepared in coconut or finished with cream. Remember that Indians love to use ghee which is full of saturated fat - bad for your cholesterol - so the less oily the dish, the better.
  • Lash out on those wonderful side dishes that provide cooling contrasts and round out the meal - yoghurt and cucumber raita, mango chutney, pickle, tomato and onion, banana and coconut
  • Say "No!" to pappadams - at home, you can puff them in the microwave without a drop of oil, but in restaurants, sadly they are still deep-fried. Which means loads of fat and calories.
  • And watch those breads. Order a simple chapatti, which is an unleavened bread baked in a griddle oven and so is the lowest in fat. Naan and paratha (layered with butter) contain more fat (and more fattening-power).
  • Sip a fresh lime juice drink to cool the mouth or a plain lassi which is made from yoghurt. Plain water doesn't take the heat away. Light beer or a dry apple cider work well with curries. Forget wine which gets ‘lost' with the intensity of the spices.
  • Say "No!" to dessert unless it's fresh fruit
Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Nutrition for Life 2020 Edition is a fresh new update on all the things you've read about or heard in the last year. Think insects, collagen, vegan eating, Keto dieting, vitamin B12, fast food and cafe culture.  It has plenty of colour pictures and is easy to dip in and out of. Grab your copy NOW!