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Sticking to Your Diet at Indian Restaurants

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

Dieters beware! Some styles of Indian cooking are vegetarian, which is great for including proper nutrition, but don’t let that lull you into thinking that these foods are low-calorie diet dishes. Plenty of fat is used in Indian cooking — usually clarified butter called ghee.

Roasting tandoori style (in a clay oven called a tandoor) is a good lowfat cooking method, but other dishes are often stewed and fried. Indian breads are many and varied, ranging from chapatti to high-fat, deep-fried poori. Often, the chef gives the breads a shimmer of butter before serving them.

Indian cuisine doesn’t focus on meat; rather, it uses carbohydrates, such as basmati rice (an aromatic long-grain variety) and lentils as its foundation. Vegetables are a part of almost every dish, and the sauces are enriched with yogurt, not cream.

Choose more of these:

  • Chutney

  • Dahl (lentils)

  • Masala (curry)

  • Matta (peas)

  • Paneer (a fresh milk cheese)

  • Pullao or pilau (rice)

  • Raita (a yogurt and cucumber condiment)

Eat less of these:

  • Chickpea batter used to deep-fry

  • Ghee (clarified butter)

  • Korma (cream sauce)

  • Molee (coconut)

  • Poori (a deep-fried bread)

  • Samosas (fried turnover appetizers)