6 Ways to Order Healthy at an Indian Restaurant

Watching your waistline? Concerned about nutrition? Here’s what to eat and what to avoid when you’re eating Indian cuisine.

Indian buffets can be an exception to the rule about avoiding all-you-can-eat restaurants, as long as you use some caution. Most of the offerings are high in quality protein. The tandoori chicken is skinless and baked in a clay oven with very little oil. The curries use a lot of spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander that are rich in antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. And many dishes are full of beans like lentils and chickpeas.

But there are still traps like samosas and kachori (deep-fried pockets of dough filled with potatoes, meat, and occasionally vegetables), and many of the curries will be loaded with cream or ghee, a clarified butter used in many Indian dishes. Do a little investigating at the restaurant before you dig in. Find out which soups and curries
are broth-based and stick with those to avoid loading up on saturated fat.

Here’s how to make healthy choices:

1. Order the roti bread. It’s typically made with whole-wheat flour or a whole-wheat blend. Skip the naan, a white-flour bread brushed with clarified butter.

2. Start with the dal, a lentil stew or curry that is very filling.

3. Use the raita, a yogurt-based sauce, for dipping your roti, chicken, and fish.

4. Try the palak paneer, a spinach curry with mild cheese.

5. Choose the mulligatawny if it’s broth-based (the creamy version is made with coconut milk, which is very high in saturated fat). It’s a stew of vegetables and lentils, sometimes with chicken or lamb added.

6. Stick with the tandoori-cooked meats. Chicken or fish tikka, cooked tandoori-style, are very lean, and the cuts have been marinated in yogurt and healthy spices.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest