Desi food is delicious, arguably one of the most flavorful cuisines, amirite? But some of the most popular desi dishes are laden with sugar, cream, butter, and oil making for some calorie and fat-heavy dishes that could pose real health problems if not eaten in moderation.
We take you through some of our favorites dishes and offer suggestions for healthier alternatives.
These delicious classics are typically deep fried. If you get the veggie samosas, you’ll get potatoes and peas. So that means you’re eating deep-fried flour, potatoes, and peas. That’s a whopping 308 calories per medium-sized samosa, according to Fat Secret. And let’s be real, do you just eat one? I know I don’t. Since the challenge here is the consumption of deep fried carbs, change it up and, instead of frying your samosa, bake it. Click here for a solid baked aloo samosa recipe.
Desi meals aren’t complete without some pakora to nibble on while you wait for the main dish to arrive. They’re delicious and you can put away a ton without thinking. But like the samosa, pakora are deep fried batter with very little nutritional value though typically made with veggies. Five aloo pakoras are 225 calories, according to My Fitness Pal! A healthier alternative is to exercise portion control. Trader Joe’s has two pakora for 180 calories. Or you can coat your veggies in chickpea flour and then bake them. Get inspiration from Vegan Richa’s baked bhaji fritters. Click here for the recipe.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news but your beloved butter chicken packs 485 calories a cup mostly because of the oil, cream and butter. Fat Secret breaks down this dish as 64% fat! If you’re craving chicken, a healthier alternative is tandoori chicken. Half a tandoori chicken is 390 calories. Or if you need butter chicken, try making the dish with coconut milk or with cashew cheese, which will provide a creamy texture and but cut the fat. Check out Jessica in the Kitchen for a take on butter chicken that’s healthier than traditional recipes.
Giant fried puri and delicious chana. What more do you need in life? Oh wait, better health, that’s what you need and lemme tell you, chana bhutura eaten frequently will be a huge roadblock. The calorie count is 522 calories for just one serving of chana and puri. A healthier alternative is, if you can, to omit the bhutura altogether. But if you’re craving something bready to sop up chana, opt for a roti instead.
One cup of this yummy stuff comes with 319 calories. And if you’re like me, you can’t ever stop at one cup, nor escape the temptation of the rice or naan that often accompanies it. That means you can easily consume over 1,000 calories from saag paneer at a party. So how can you better combat all the cream, fat, and high carb/high calories pitfalls that often come with this dish? You could saute spinach with a little bit of sunflower oil, garlic, jeera, mustard seeds, and turmeric. It’s tasty and low calorie. You don’t need roti or rice. It’s good as is and will help you keep the calories in check. You can also make the dish with tofu and low fat milk which keep the integrity of the dish but it slashes the calories. Check out the Picky Eater Blog for a recipe for palak tofu. Click here to read.
Naan is a staple and a favorite of many desi meals. Go to any desi restaurant, and I’ll bet they have naan. It’s delicious, you can get garlic naan, plain naan, stuffed naan, or any other kind of naan you’d like to eat. Sadly one plain naan is 538 calories per piece. Say whuuuuu?! That itself is a meal, ladies and gents. An healthier alternative is eating roti instead, which is about 120 calories a pieces. Check out Indian Healthy Recipes for a delicious multigrain roti recipe.
Do you have a recipe for an healthy alternative to a dish? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org for publication consideration.