Articles on south indian cuisine

Why South Indians Swear by Curd Rice

Ms. Nisha Singh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
The fire-extinguisherFreshly made curd is loaded with good bacteria that help your body absorb more nutrients and aid digestion. Curd helps you digest spicy food without the burning sensation. No wonder you were given curd rice to eat whenever you had a stomach upset as a kid! The edible cosmeticCurd makes for the most delicious midnight snack or a diet breakfast. Treat it like an alternative to junk food and have it with fruits or cornflakes. Curd’s low calorie count keeps your metabolism healthy and keeps you feeling full for long. It also has anti-aging and slimming properties. Now isn’t that a double bonus?The Versatile HeroFresh curd is bland in taste making it the most versatile base for sweet or savoury dishes. So whether you are making paneer or cucumber raita, make sure you add a dollop of curd.Beat the heat this summer with sweet lassi or salty chaas!The Bone BuilderCurd has one of the largest quantities of calcium and vitamin D amongst vegetarian foods. So if you want to keep your bones strong even after you’re on the other side of thirty,having curd daily is a must.  The Coolest Side DishEver wondered why we Indians consume curd with fried or greasy food like aloo parathas, jalebis and murrukus? The reason behind this is that curd helps the body to clear the greasy food down your throat and reduces the effect of cholesterol-increasing foods on your body.Having curd however is not always beneficial for all*. If you have Asthma, or respiratory problems,you must avoid having chilled curd. If you have acidity issues then make sure the curd is fresh and not sour.Now does it surprise you to know why a typical South Indian meal is incomplete without ‘curd rice’? Keep in mind these hidden benefits and begin your journey towards fitness with that spoonful of creamy goodness!*Consult your dietician to know how much curd you can include in your diet based on your health.

Healthy South Indian Snacks

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
South Indian foods are known for their simple preparation methods and high nutritional value. These foods are usually made from simple and healthy ingredients. A lot of rice and lentil is involved in the preparation of these dishes and we already know that rice and lentils are super healthy foods. The flavouring includes but is not limited to coconut and curry leaves which leave a tantalizing taste in our palates. The cooking methods involved are more towards the healthy side as they usually use steaming, sautéing, stewing or pan-grilling for most of their preparations. A recent study conducted by the researchers of college of home science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai have found that out of the four metro cities, Chennai was found to be the most nutritionally balanced when it comes to traditional breakfast habits.The thing to be wary of when watching calories is the addition of coconut in the form of oil, milk or grated plain coconut, adding ghee, peanuts or using deep-fried preparation methods can increase the fat content and overall calories of the dishes.Now, let’s look at some of the healthy south Indian snack foods and analyse their nutritional facts.1.Idli These are steamed cakes made from seasoned rice-lentil batter. As these are steamed, and the overall use of oil is minimal, they are low on calories and high on nutrition. It packs a good blend of carbohydrates and proteins. Adding sprouts or vegetables to batter can increase the nutritional value. Avoid coconut chutney; instead have mint or tomato chutney. These are perfect for breakfast with sambar or as an evening snack with chutney.- 1 medium Idli has 39 calories, 2 gm protein, 8 gm fiber, zero saturated fat and zero cholesterol.2.Upma It is one of the common and staple breakfast options. It is made by dry roasting semolina and cooking with sautéed vegetables. It is light on the bowel and is quite filling as well. Semolina is a refined grain but adding vegetables adds fiber and makes it a wholesome meal. - 1 cup home-made vegetable upma contains about 280 calories, 11 gm protein, 59 gm carbohydrates, 6 gm fat, and zero cholesterol.3.Adai This is a popular south Indian snack. Batter is made with rice and a mix of 2-3 whole pulses with vegetables, curry leaves and spices. This mixture is then cooked on a non-stick pan just like pancakes. Nutritionally it serves as a balanced source of carbohydrates, proteins and fiber. - 1 medium Adai pancake has 165 calories, 2.5 gm fat, 15 gm carbohydrates and 1 gm protein.4.Rasam It is a light, moderately spicy soup prepared by making a base of tomato, tamarind pulp, black pepper, spices and adding steamed vegetables and lentils as per choice. It is best for winters and monsoons and is also beneficial in cold, cough and fever. It is good for bowel health and aids in digestion. This can also be consumed with steamed rice as a spicy curry. - 1 cup of Rasam can contain 45-60 calories, 2-3gms fat, 4-6gms carbohydrates, and 1-2 gms protein depending upon the vegetables or lentils added.5.Sundal This is an easy to prepare, healthy and nutritious snack. The dish is prepared by lightly sautéing pre-boiled legumes with green chilies, mustard seeds, and coriander in 1 tsp oil. Grated coconut is also a part of this preparation, which is high in calories, so, it is advisable to skip the same to keep the calorific value to a healthy range. Sundal is a good source of soluble fiber and lean protein. It is a filling snack and can be included as a mid-afternoon or evening meal. - 1 cup of chickpea sundal contains 280 calories with 4gms fat, 49gms carbohydrates and 15gms protein.

Are Idli and Dosa Healthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Idli and dosa are probably the most popular South Indian dishes. But how healthy are they? Idli: Idli is a steamed cake made from fermented batter of rice and black lentils. It is made in a specialized mold and served with different types of chutney made from tomato, tamarind, coconut and Sambhar, which is made by adding vegetable to red gram dal. Each plain idli has approximately 39 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams dietary fiber, 8 grams carbohydrates and no fat. Dosa: Dosa is a kind of a flat pancake made from fermented batter of rice and black lentils. It is made on a hot griddle (tava) greased with oil. It is also served with different types of chutney made from tomato, tamarind, coconut and sambhar, which is made by adding vegetable to red gram dal. Each plain dosa contains approximately 120 calories, 2 grams protein, 1 gram dietary fiber, 17 grams carbohydrates and 3 grams fat. Idli and Dosa are not unhealthy, but the problem is that no one restricts themselves to 1 or 2 servings. People tend to overeat idlis and dosas. Also, different varieties like masala dosa, butter idlis, fried idlis, etc are higher in calories because of higher oil content and overeating will obviously pile up the calories. They are served with different varieties of chutney, some of which are high in calories like coconut chutney. I piece of coconut (approximately 45 grams) contains 159 calories and 15 grams of fat. However there are nutritional benefits of coconut and you need to keep a check on the amount you are consuming to minimize calorie intake.

Are Indian Pickles Healthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Indian food is incomplete without pickles. The little pieces of lime and mango marinated with oil, salt and other spices are served at all meals. Pickles have always been a favourite for Indians and are even mentioned in our Vedic Texts! The sweet & sour taste of pickles makes them a favourite. Being so popular, pickles are used in India’s staple diet but the tangy lime pickles can be quite harmful to the body. Surprised? Read more to know why pickles are not healthy for us:Pickles have low nutritional valuePickles have low nutritional value because of the pickling process. During the process of pickling, fruits or vegetables are diced or chopped and then dried out. During the drying out process they are coated in salt and left out to dry in the sunlight. This is to ensure that no water content is left in the fruit or vegetables. But the negative point of this process is that drying in sunlight leads to further loss of nutrients.Read to know why fruits and vegetables are not fattening?Indian pickles have high sodium contentIn Indian pickles, a high amount of salt is added for seasoning and preparation. Excessive use of salt in pickles increases the sodium content in our diet which leads to ill health effects like water retention, abdominal bloating, high blood pressure and an increase in the work load for our kidneys. A high salt diet also reduces the calcium absorption which leads to low bone density.Get to know more about how to reduce water weight.Indian pickles contain lot of oilOil is used in pickles to preserve them. Basically oil acts as a barrier to prevent the contact of moisture with pickles which prevents pickles from being invaded by fungus, mold and bacteria. The oils used in pickles have trans fats. Trans fats gets added to the oil during hydrogenation (passage of hydrogen gas to the oil). Trans fats increases the shelf life of the pickle. Trans fats even increases the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and reduce the HDL cholesterol(good cholesterol).Read to know more about 7 cholesterol lowering foods to stay healthy. They also increase the level of triglycerides. So, it is always advisable to moderate your consumption of Indian pickles.

Are Gulab Jamuns Healthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Gulab jamun is a milk-solid -based dessert, similar to a dumpling dipped in sugar solution. Like the laddu, it is amongst the most recognised sweets from India and is consumed in every corner of the country. Though the round shape and the name ‘gulab jamun’ is the most commonly used, it is made in different sizes and shapes and sold with different names in different regions of India. But the base ingredients and preparation is the same. It is made mainly from milk solids, freshly curdled milk. Gulab jamun is often served at weddings and festive occasions. How Healthy is Gulab Jamun ?A plate of 2 gulab jamuns has approximately 300 calories. It only provides saturated fat and sugar. It has absolutely no nutrition and benefit. Since it is cooked in sugar and even served in sugar syrup, it is a dangerous food for diabetics and will adversely affect any weight loss plan. It will spike your blood sugar levels, slow your metabolism, make you crave for even more unhealthy food, is packed with saturated fat, simple carbohydrates and empty calories. Try to eat as few as possible. Or even better, completely avoid them. Following are the ingredients which are used in preparation of this sweet:Refined flour (for dough)Sugar (for soaking)Oil (for frying)Milk Solids (for dough)Approximate Calorie contentCalories - 150 KcalFat - 8 gCholesterol - 10 mgSodium - 40 mgCarbohydrates - 16.5 gFiber - 0gProtein - 2 gAs you can see, it has absolutely nothing to offer in terms of nutrition and is nothing short of a junk food, leading to weight gain and blood sugar spikes.If you’re a gulab jamun fan, here are some tips to help you avoid them:• Drink plenty of water before heading to the dessert counter at weddings or parties, where gulab jamuns and other sugar heavy desserts are a common sight.• If you are being served dry fruits, choose the dry fruits over gulab jamuns and other unhealthy desserts.• Exercise regularly. Regular exercise will help control your cravings for gulab jamuns and other unhealthy foods.• Since gulab jamuns will be consumed post meal in most cases, try to eat a high fibre, balanced meal to minimise your post meal sweet cravings.

Five Most Unhealthy South Indian Snacks

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
South Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in India. This cuisine is prepared from the most natural ingredients available with minimum use of processed goods. Unfortunately, it’s not the ingredients that can make south Indian food unhealthy but the way it is cooked it can negate its health benefits and add empty calories with almost no nutrition benefits to it.Read more about healthy south Indian snacks.Most South Indian snacks are deep fried and if you are consuming them every day then they can be causing your health some serious damage in the long run. We have picked up some of the unhealthiest South Indian snacks to show you what make them bad for your health.1. MurukkuPopularly known as chakli, it's a crispy snack eaten with evening tea in many Indian households. Urad dal is mixed with rice flour and a host of other spices. There are varieties of murukku made. They are circular coils, which are deep fried until golden brown in color. They are high in cholesterol which leads to obesity and heart problem.Picture">Picture credit:Flickr.comNutrition Facts: 1 piece Murukku contains 78 calories, 4 gm fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 10 gm carbohydrates and 2 gm protein.2. PakorasPakoras are made by deep frying your preferred variety of vegetables/rice/potato - in a mixture of garlic, besan, and salt. They are served along with a sweet and spicy dip. Pakoras increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol from the body leading to obesity and coronary diseases.Nutrition Facts:1 serving (28 gm) contains 76 calories, 4 gm fat, 8 gm carbohydrate, and 2 gm protein.3. VadaVadas are crunchy and extremely flavorful due to the range of spices added. They are crispy lentil-based fritters. There are several versions of vada. They are deep fried until golden brown in color.Picture">Picture credit:pixabay.comNutrition Facts: 1 piece (33 gm) can contain 80 calories, 3 gm fat, 25 gm carbohydrates and 5 gm protein.4. BondaThe bonda is fried and crisp outside and soft inside. This is very famous in Indian cuisine. In North, this is called as batata vada. The process of making a spicy bonda involves deep-frying potato (or other vegetables) filling dipped in gram flour batter.Get more information on Potato a true friend.Nutrition Facts: 1 piece (30 gm) contains about 70 calories, 1 gm fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 13 gm carbohydrates and 3 gm proteins.5. SevThey are a crispy snack made up of rice and besan flour. They are fried till they become crispy. They are very high in calories and fat.Read to know health benefits of brown rice.Nutrition Facts: 1 cup (35 gm) can contain about 200 calories, 14 gm fat, 14 gm carbohydrates, and 3 gm proteins.

How Healthy Is Besan (Gram-Flour)?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Gram flour, more popularly known as besan is a highly nutritions food which provides us with lots of health benefits. Owing to it’s high protein content it can be easily be consumed by vegetarians to fulfil their protein needs. It not only is useful inside but also outside the body. From time immemorial besan has been used as a home made face pack to remove tan and to lighten the skin. Being such a versatile item, besan has found a permanent place in our kitchens. All of us have had the pleasure of tasting the different yummy dishes made with besan as it is a favourite ingredient for indian home made healthy snacks option. Now if we were to tell you that eating besan not only supplies you with a truckload of health benefits but also helps you lose weight along the way? Yes, that is correct. Besan has lesser calories than whole wheat flour. Being nutritionally dense they promote weight loss as they contain lower levels of fat as compared to their non-vegetarian protein counterparts. According to various studies adding protein & fiber to your diet may help control cravings, as they take longer to digest than carbohydrates, helping you feel fuller for longer and on fewer calories, which could help you lose weight. Besan is also rich in fiber, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, vitamin B-6 and thiamine.1 bowl of cooked chickpeas can fulfil approximately 20 % of your daily protein requirement.The health benefits of gram flour/besan are as follows:1. Helps Lower Cholesterol: Gram flour contains healthy unsaturated fats which help in lowering the cholesterol level of the body. 2. Controls Diabetes: Owing to its low glycemic index, it is a great food for diabetics. Use it in your rotis, paranthas as a replacement for flour. Glycemic index of chickpea is just 10. 3. Helps improve health of the heart: Besan has high soluble fiber content which is beneficial for the health of the heart. It is also endorsed by the Heart Care Foundation. 4. Healthy alternative for Gluten: Since besan does not contain gluten, it is a great substitute to wheat and other gluten containing grains, for those people who are allergic to gluten. 5. Helps getting rid of iron deficiency: Being rich in iron, consumption of besan on a daily basis can help your body recover from iron deficiencies like anaemia. 6. Useful in pregnancy: Gram flour is rich in folate, a vitamin which takes care of the foetus’ brain and spinal cord development and ensures a healthy well developed baby. 7. Helps during fatigue: Gram flour is a good source of the vitamin Thiamin which helps the body in converting food into energy. 8. Helps regulate mood and appetite: Besan is rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is an important component involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin plays an important in mood and appetite regulation. 9. Helps regulate blood pressure: The magnesium content of besan helps in maintaining vascular health and it also helps in the regulation of blood pressure. 10.Helps in strengthening of bones: The phosphorous in gram flour combines with calcium in the body to help in the formation of bones. Here are some easy ways to add chickpea to your diet: Dhokla: Popular snack in India Dhokla is healthy, filling and tasty. The cooking procedure requires fermentation of the flour which actually enhances its nutritive value. Two medium pieces of steamed, home-made dhokla contain about 45 calories. Chila: The nutty flavour and taste of Besan or chickpea flour makes it a tasty breakfast option. Besan flour is naturally higher in protein than wheat-based flours. Make the batter for Besan pancake or chila with curd or milk; add vegetables and pan-grill with minimal oil. Have it with a glass of low fat milk or curd. Chaat: Chickpea chaat is easy to prepare. Take boiled chickpea; add raw, chopped onion & tomatoes. Sprinkle some black pepper, salt and squeeze fresh lime on top. It is the freshest & healthiest food you can snack on. A bowl of chickpea chaat contains approximately 120 calories. Chickpea Salad: Here is a simple recipe of a Mediterranean chickpea salad. Add finely chopped raw red bell peppers, onions, cucumber and tomatoes to a bowl of pre-boiled chickpeas. For dressing use vinegar, lime, yogurt, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them together and sprinkle feta cheese on topSpicy Chickpea Soup: Make this instant spicy chickpea soup at home. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker and sauté garlic, onion till it turn pinkish in colour. Add pre-boiled chickpeas, tomatoes, salt, cardamom powder, cumin seeds, 3 cups of hot water and wait for a single whistle. Serve it hot with coriander leaves. A bowl of this soup contains approximately 160 calories.Now that we have given you all the nutrition facts and delicious recipes, just go ahead and involve as much gram flour as you can in your daily diet.

Which Is Healthier, Rice or Chapati?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
No Indian meal is complete without rice or chapati or both. These staple elements of Indian cuisine are either a part of breakfast, lunch or dinner or all three.Of late, the growing fitness fad has raised questions on nutritional value of all the edibles, including rice and chapati.Let’s dissect the pros and cons to make your life choices easier and read more know which rice is best for losing weight?Both food items have similar carbohydrate levels and calorific value, but different nutritional value because chapati contains more proteins and fibres than rice.Rice is easier to digest because of its starch content, whereas roti digests slowly. However, due to slow digestion roti keeps you full for longer, which is a big plus for weight watchers.VitaminsBoth rice and chapati provide Folate, a water-soluble B-vitamin. Rice is a better source of Folate than chapati.MineralsEach serving of chapatis provides you with calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium, whereas rice provides the same amount of iron but less phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Rice doesn’t contain any calcium.VerdictChapatis contain more fibre, protein, micronutrients and sodium. Rice doesn’t contain any sodium. If you are watching your sodium intake, then rice will be a better option.Whole wheat and multi-grain chapatis are the most preferred variants of chapatis, whereas brown rice is the most preferred.Read more to know about health benefits of brown rice. Both wheat and rice have a similar glycemic index, which means that they raise the blood sugar level to the same extent.Get more information on healthy blood sugar level.As long as you restrict the quantity, it does not matter what you eat. If 2 portions of cereals as 1 chapati and 1 small bowl of rice are consumed, it is definitely alright.So, don’t just avoid rice, simply watch the portion size

Is Eating Papad Making Your Body Unhealthy?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
We are well aware of the flavour and munch that papad brings to our daily plate of boring food. The satisfaction of eating the same old dal-rice doubles up when accompanied with papad. It’s not just the crunch or the wafer like texture or the extra flavour; it is all combined into one. Papads are extremely popular equally in the northern and southern parts of India. So we think it is safe to say that the unified Indian palate relishes the taste of papad and when given a choice they will always go for papad than not.The ingredients usually used to prepare different kinds of papads range from rice, flour, lentils, potatoes, chickpeas or black gram and various spices, salt and peanut oil. All of the ingredients are ground together and the dough is made into flat circular breads which then is left out to dry in the sun. This dish is rich in protein and fiber. This dish is then either fried in oil or dry roasted. While when looked broadly at the ingredients they seem good for health but when you observe closely you will find that it is something definitely not meant for uncontrolled consumptionHere are 6 reasons why you should watch how many papads you chomp down with your meal.1. Papad is a hidden source of salt / sodiumOne of the main ingredients of the dough of papad is salt. It is used in medium quantities to make the papad tastier and it acts as a preservative as well. Indian food is usually known for the copious amount of salt and spices that are added to it. Now when you consume more salt than required by the body from the combination of the salt in our staple food and the salt in papad we end up with a high level of salt in our blood. Salt is basically sodium and such high content of sodium causes high blood pressure, water retention, abdominal bloating, increased thirst, diabetes etc.Read more about tips to reduce bloating and water retention.2. Spicy papads are not goodSome papads have a variety of spices added to them in varying quantities ranging from medium to very high. Having spices in general is not bad for health but like all other things, when consumed in excess can be bad for health and since most people consume multiple papads in one sitting, it can cause acidity and other digestive problems.Get more information on health benefits of indian spices.3. Papad causes constipationIf the papads are consumed in excess, the dough of papad once in the stomach may stick to the intestinal lining and cause constipation or gastric issues.Read and follow these home remedies for constipation.4. Quality of oil used in papad / Fried PapadUsually when papads are fried repeatedly using the same oil, the reused oil becomes rich in trans-fat or if the quality of the oil to begin with is not good then it can have other adverse effects on your health. More often than not most of the papads available in the market are prepared in low quality oil with little to no quality control. This may increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body causing heart problem, diabetes etc. 5. Unhygienic preparation methods of papadsPapads need to be left out in the open for drying and they might be kept on dirty and unhygienic surfaces, leading to further chances of infection for the consumer. 6. All dry roasted papads are not very healthy.A recent study shows that when papads are dry roasted, fried or microwave roasted, acrylamide is formed due to the presence of sodium benzoate. Acrylamide is a probable carcinogen. Studies show that the formation of acrylamide is more in case the papads are roasted and the least when they are microwave roasted. Hence, try and opt for microwave roasted over flame roasted.All of these reasons might seem intimidating in the beginning, but if you truly care about your body you need to be careful about what you ingest. Papads are harmless little tasty snacks but only when chosen mindfully. The right choice in the type of papad along with how it is prepared can make a world of difference when your health is in question.

7 Indian Foods for Quick Weight Loss

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Indian cuisine is rich, diverse and balanced. From the spices that are used to cook it to the different vegetables available through the year not only makes the diet packed with essential nutrition but also provides huge variety.Unlike American or European where large part of their meals consist of pre-packaged cereals or breads an average Indian household is brimming with wide variety of delicious food options like cheela, dalia, poha, upma, stuffed roti and many more options.As you enjoy the wide variety of Indian food available here are some quick options that can be easily made, are very healthy and can help you lose weight.Read about 52 effortless ways to lose weight.Some healthy Indian Diet Options for weight LossKhicdi: Dal (SplitPulses) and rice cooked together and generally eaten with a combination of curd. This indian diet is simple with least spices except salt, turmeric and some herbs for aroma. It contains protein from dal, carbohydrates from rice and is easy to digest and light for the stomach.Besan ka cheela made of gram flour is usually eaten in combination with curd is a instant, nutritious, low calorie, protein rich recipe ideal for breakfast and snack time. Cheela can be a part of weight loss diet since it is low in calories and also a part of muscle building diet since it is high in protein. Make sure its made in minimal oil and cooked on a non-stick.Dhokla is a snack from Gujarat made with a fermented batter of gram, It is one of the few non-fried item. This steamed snack is a good combination of carbohydrate and protein. The steaming process also preserves its nutrient content and less consumption of oil.Kathi Roll comes in a large number of variants. The innovations tend to be in two areas – the fillings or the wrap. Common variants on the filling are egg, potato, paneer, mixed vegetables and curried chicken or mutton. To make it healthy use wheat flour wraps with fillings like mixed vegetables, paneer, chicken, sprouts etc. Most of the khathi rolls made by street vendors are extremely unhealthy and loaded in oil. avoid them. If you are eating out and cant avoid pick the rolls that are made in romali roti.Chola/chickpea chaat: Boiled cholas flavoured with salt, red chilly, pepper and fresh lemon juice along with raw onions, cucumber and tomatoes. A complete meal by itself as a bowl only has 280 calories, is filling and is packed with nutrition!Moong Dal/Sprout Chaat: Mostly served as a breakfast dish is rich in vitamin C. Easy to prepare and can be eaten raw or slightly cooked in a non-stick is half a tea spoon of oil. You can notch up the health quotient by adding seasonal fresh vegetables to it or simply add onions, tomatoes, cucumber and a dash of lime juice. Takes less than time minutes to prepare, builds your immunity and keeps you full for longer.Tandoori chicken: Currently touted as national dish of Britian is extremely popular world over. With a low calorie count of 100 calories per 60 gms it is a very good source of protein.People tend to add a large serving of oil while grilling it add unnecessary calories to it. Instead of grilling try baking it in the oven for healthier results. You can even add tandoori chicken to your salad by replacing the regular grilled chicken with this. A brand new salad dish at not extra calories. Your taste-buds will love it :)Remember you need to add more variations every week or two to get more weight loss results.