Here are three heart healthy Indian recipes that even beginners of Indian cuisine (also known as “curry” in some countries) can try.
If you were on a world tour searching for heart-healthy cuisine, you’d make sure to hit the Mediterranean and Japan, but not even dream of India. Normally, you would be spot on. Indian food is usually rich and oily. However, there are many varieties of veggies and legumes to make up up for it. There are antioxidant loaded and fibre-rich foods that fight off illness and disease. You too can easily turn Indian food into healthy eating with a few changes. There is another myth about desi food is that heart healthy Indian recipes must be vegetarian. Granted, there is hardly any meat, at least red meat, in most Indian recipes, especially heart-healthy ones, but you can cook non-vegetarian Indian recipes that are healthy as well.
1. CHICKPEA CURRY
Chickpeas are not only a great source of fibre and protein, studies reveal beans can reduce the risk of heart disease and even cancer. Most vegetarians in India eat some of the tastiest heart healthy Indian recipes made from beans. Traditionally, split Indian chickpea (called chana dal) and garbanzo beans (chole) are used, but canned garbanzo will work just as well. The dish cooks quickly in a pressure cooker and makes a yummy, filling side dish for lunch or dinner.
- 2T (tablespoons) rice bran oil or flaxseed oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped.
- 1/4 tsp red chilli powder.
- 1 tsp coriander powder.
- 1 tsp finely grated garlic.
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger.
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
- 1 chopped tomato.
- 1 1/2 cups dillweed, finely chopped.
- 500 gm of channa (soaked in warm water overnight) or 1 can chickpeas.
- 1/4 cup water.
- 1/4 tsp salt.
Method: Saute the onion in heated oil. Add the dry organic spices, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook till soft. Add 1 cup chopped dillweed, drained chickpeas, water, salt and simmer 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining dillweed.
2. SHREDDED CARROT RAITA
This healthy raita salad is cool and refreshing in your mouth. It helps balance the rest of the spicy Indian food on the table with its sweetness and crunch. And it is cancer-fighting too! Be sure to pick small to medium sized carrots because they have the most flavour and are the sweetest. It is versatile because it works nicely as a salad, condiment or dip for kebabs.
- 2 Tblsp raisins
- 1 ½ cups low-fat plain yoghurt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 Tblsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 2 cups of grated carrots (small sized)
- 6 walnut halves, coarsely chopped
Method: Soak raisins for 30 minutes or up to overnight. Whisk yoghurt and the dry ingredients and half a tablespoon of the mint in medium bowl. Add a little water if the consistency is too thick. Drain raisins and add to yoghurt mixture along with carrots and walnuts. Stir well and sprinkle with the remaining chopped mint. Refrigerate and serve cold.
3. EASY CHICKEN CURRY
Curry in Indian food implies it is the main dish. Main dishes come with a nice spicy sauce, good enough to eat with Indian flatbread (rotis and naan) or rice. But there is no such thing as “curry powder”. Try this protein-packed non-vegetarian dish. It is our favourite chicken based heart healthy Indian recipes. Serve hot over brown rice seasoned with julienned ginger.
- 4 Tblsp sunflower oil or canola oil
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 tsp finely grated garlic (about 4 large cloves)
- 1 ½ tsp ground cayenne or red pepper
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds, finely ground
- 1 Tblsp + 1 cup hot water
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 3 Lb skinless chicken breasts and drumsticks
- 1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt and sugar to taste
Method: Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and saute onion 10 minutes or until caramelized. Combine garlic, dry organic spices with 1 tablespoon hot water to make a thick paste. Add to onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes on reduced heat. Add chicken and turn to coat with spicy tomato paste for about 10 minutes. Bring to the boil with the rest of the hot water. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or till chicken is fully cooked. Add vinegar, salt and sugar and simmer 1 minute.
Spice it up
The secret to successful Indian cooking lies in the spice, or rather, the spice combination. No single spice can make a dish taste amazing, which is why many people go for a mixed curry powder. Instead of a store-bought masala powder or curry powder, we recommend you start by stocking your spice rack with these five basic spices and buy them separately. Find organic spices online, such as turmeric, red pepper, cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds. Use them to spice up your heart healthy Indian recipes as often as you want because spices not only give flavour but also multiple health benefits. But we will provide more info about that in a future blog post.