Colorful, aromatic spices are the perfect antidotes to the cold winds of winter. Food Editor Robyn Webb, MS, LN, demonstrates the lighter side of Indian cuisine, which is rich in vegetables, legumes, and fiber and low in sodium and saturated fat.
There’s no need for a tandoor, a traditional clay cooking vessel, to make this flavorful chicken. A yogurt marinade keeps the meat moist and succulent as it roasts in your oven.
A blend of yogurt and fruit offers a cool contrast to the spicy heat of the main dish and sides.
|Monica Bhide’s Indian Cauliflower|
Dressing cauliflower with traditional spices such as cumin, ginger, coriander, and turmeric creates a flavorful vegetable side dish that requires very little salt.
Lentils are a fiber-rich protein source in Indian cuisine. Enjoy this version as a side dish or serve 1-cup portions as a main dish.
The Lighter Side
Monica Bhide, food explorer and author of Modern Spice, a contemporary cookbook inspired by India, tours the elements of healthful cooking.
Spices: Aromatic spices, typically toasted or heated to release the flavorful oils, take the place of added salt. “If properly seasoned with spices, you’ll never notice there is no salt,” Bhide says. Freshness matters. Buy spices in small amounts, she advises. “If there's no aroma, those spices are dead.”
Legumes: Fiber-rich beans are a staple of Indian cuisine. Savvy Indian cooks use a pressure cooker to produce tender lentils in under 20 minutes. For diabetes-friendly meals, count the carbohydrate grams in legumes, which make a hearty meatless main dish when paired with veggies.
Vegetables: Although there’s an Indian tradition of “starch on top of starch” (think potatoes and flatbread), modern Indian cuisine boosts using cooked nonstarchy vegetables. Cauliflower, onion, okra, and nutrient-rich greens are favorites. Spiced, pickled veggies serve as condiments.
Meat: Animal protein in Indian recipes “doesn't take the central portion of the plate,” Bhide says, helping to curb saturated fat. Instead, meat is surrounded by whole grains, lentils, vegetables, and condiments. This encourages sensible portions, an array of food groups, and varied flavors and textures.